Places not to live if you like to get pickled
The 21st amendment ended prohibition against alcohol, unless, a local law exists that restricts its sale, transportation, or use (section 2 of the amendment). Basically, local laws around alcohol supersede federal laws (this however, is most assuredly NOT the case with the many state laws passed relaxing rules around drug use—specifically marijuana—as the DEA likes to remind everyone). As a result, there are some bizarre differences across the U.S. in the legality of alcohol, the weirdest, arguably, is the existence of the “dry” county or town.
Dry counties and towns are entire counties or specific towns that forbid the sale, and usually the production, marketing, transportation etc… of alcohol. In half of the counties in Mississippi, even driving across these places with a beer in your car (unopened of course) is illegal. The law stands even if you do not plan to stop. In some Alaskan communities, possession of beer is also crime. You read this paragraph right. In some places in America, it is illegal to have a beer in your possession.
To make things more confusing, some counties are “moist” which has multiple meanings including: they restrict the sale of alcohol to restaurants, bars, or “private clubs”; you can buy low alcohol content beer but not hard spirits; there’s a cap on the ABV of beer sold (sorry Avery). There are also wet towns inside dry counties; although I’ve yet to come across dry neighborhoods (towns seem to be the finest scale).
Getting wet or dry
Either a location has traditionally been dry and no one ever cared enough to change it, or it’s come up for a vote at some point and the majority of residents have voted to make it dry. Arguments for banning or maintaining a ban on alcohol include creating a “family atmosphere”, reducing crime, and maintaining property values. Considering most dry counties are in Bible-belt states, one has to acknowledge the religious ties as well.
Some towns and counties have voted to change from dry to wet or moist. In 2005, Rockport, Massachusetts residents voted in a majority to allow restaurants to sell liquor, but still ban bars and liquor stores. Sometimes the alcohol issue has come up multiple times and towns have switched back and forth along the wet to dry continuum.
Communities going from dry to wet or moist usually do so to encourage tourism (as the case in Rockport), to increase revenue, or to just make life easier for residents.
Where are the dry counties?
The greatest number of dry counties can be found in Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi.
Don’t miss anything
New articles are out regularly and new videos come out every week. Make sure you subscribe!
Credits and Links
I live in Denver, Colorado. This blog is everything about beer, wine, cider, mead and other spirits.
I am a avid homebrewer and winemaker. I’ve been making my own beer and wine for many years. I started making beer when I was in college (mostly because the drinking age in the United States is 21). My first few beers were horrible. The beers are much better now, and I often supply my neighborhood with free beer! It is a great hobby!