Currently, I have been conducting a "Sheriff's Returnable for Charity" fundraiser, which includes the collecting of empty beer or pop cans or bottles. These returnables will be stored until the return can ban is lifted and then taken back to the store. The proceeds will be used for local charities.

As the cans and bottles come in, it has made me come to the realization that the county real loves it's beer. I would bet to say that we are all drinking more due to this lock down.

In this edition of the "Sheriff's Corner," I discuss beer, and some of the laws relating to alcohol in general.

PROHIBITION

Prohibition is the legal prevention of the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcoholic beverages in the U.S. from 1920 to 1933 under the terms of the 18th Amendment.

The increase of the illegal production and sale of liquor (or bootlegging), the establishment of "speakeasies" (illegal drinking spots) and the rise in gang violence led to the support for Prohibition by the end of the 1920s.

Prohibition actually had the opposite affect which increased the production of illegal spirits and beer, which ultimately led to the 21st Amendment which repealed Prohibition on Dec. 5, 1933.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission was established right after Prohibition's repeal. MLCC controls all alcohol sales, serving and alcohol traffic within Michigan.

The MLCC board consists of five members who are appointed by the Governor which no more than three members can be of the same political party. Three members are in charge of purchasing, licensing, enforcement and merchandising. The two other commissioners deal with licensing or related alcohol violations.

The MLCC Licensing Division deals with the licensing of bars, restaurants, hotels, convenience stores, brewpubs, grocery stores, distilleries and related businesses.

TYPES OF ALCOHOL

As we have many forms and variety of alcoholic beverages, many wonder exactly what is the difference. I have compiled a list of the most common alcoholic forms below:

• Beer: The main ingredient is malt (barley, wheat etc). Beer making process is known as brewing and the most common process involves fermentation of malted barley.

• Wine: The main ingredients are fruits (majorly grapes). The making process involves the fermentation of fruit juices (crushed grapes).

• Liquor: An alcoholic drink that is distilled from grains or plants, such as rum, vodka, gin or whiskey.

• Brandy: Brandy is basically made by the distillation of wine.

• Whiskey: Is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash (wheat, barley etc.) and matured in oak casks for a certain period of time.

• Rum: Is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from molasses (sugarcane juice).

• Vodka: Is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash (wheat, barley and potato).

• Bourbon: Is a type of whiskey in which the raw material contains at least 51% corn.

• Stout: It is a type of beer made by top and warm fermentation of a heavily roasted malt.

• Scotch: Is a type of whiskey made and matured in Scotland in oak casks for at least three years.

• Champagne: It is a type of sparkling wine which comes from the champagne district of France which involves secondary fermentation of wine to create carbonation.

• Tequila: Comes from Mexico and is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented agave fruit (similar to pineapple).

• Gin: Is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash with juniper berries.

• Moonshine: Any kind of alcohol, usually whisky or rum, that is made in secret to avoid high taxes or outright bans on alcoholic drinks.

ALCOHOL PROOF

According to legend, the concept of "proof" comes from soldiers in the British Royal Navy, who (back in the 18th century) had to douse their gunpowder in rum as a test of its potency. If the wet gunpowder still ignited, it was "proof" the alcohol content was high enough, 57% alcohol by volume.

Alcohol proof is a measure of the content of ethanol (alcohol) in an alcoholic beverage. The term was originally used in England and was equal to about 1.821 times the alcohol by volume. In the U.S., alcohol proof is defined as twice the percentage of alcohol by volume.

The proof system in the United States was established about 1848 -- 50% alcohol by volume was defined as 100 proof.

The U.S. permits the listing of proof on the label of alcohol, but it doesn't actually require it. It is more of a tradition to list it on the label.

TAXING OF ALCOHOL

Do you ever wonder why the price of liquor is so high? Well, you can blame it on the many taxes you have to pay on it, not just at the state level, but the federal level, as well.

Michigan collects special excise taxes (also know as a "sin" tax) on the sale of all alcohol, which is divided into three groups: beer, wine, and liquor.

• Beer: The Michigan excise tax on beer is $0.20 per gallon, lower then 56% of the other 50 states. Michigan's beer excise tax is ranked #28 out of the 50 states.

• Wine: The Michigan excise tax on Wine is $0.51 per gallon, lower then 68% of the other 50 states. Michigan's excise tax on wine is ranked #34 out of the 50 states.

• Liquor: The Michigan excise tax on liquor is $11.90 per gallon, one of the highest liquor taxes in the country. Michigan's excise tax on Spirits is ranked #9 out of the 50 states.

As mentioned above, the price of all alcohol sold in Michigan includes Federal alcohol excise taxes, which are also collected from the brewer or distillery which is then passed onto the consumer in the beverage's price.

• Beer: $18 per 31-gallon barrel, or $0.05 per 12-ounce can.

• Wine: $1.07 to $3.40 per gallon, or $0.21 to $0.67 per 750ml bottle, depending on alcohol content.

• Liquor: $13.50 per proof-gallon, or $2.14 per 750ml 80-proof bottle.

DRIVING AND ALCOHOL

Alcohol affects everyone differently. The common phrase that one says when they are pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving is having drank "a couple of beers." This is usually a way smaller amount than what they have actually consumed.

As the term DUI is a slang term that people use for drunk driving, the actual definition is different. The two main categories of drunk driving are operating while under the influence of alcohol (OWI) and operating while visibly impaired (OWVI) by alcohol.

It is illegal for a driver to have a bodily alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater if over age 21 or .02 or greater if under 21. Michigan also has a high-BAC law with higher penalties for someone caught driving with a BAC of .17 or higher.

Keep in mind that drivers can be arrested at any BAC level if they show signs of impairment while driving a motor vehicle. This means you may not be over the legal limit, but still shouldn't be driving hence OWVI.

From 2017-18, Michigan's rate of drunk driving fatalities fell 16%, from a rate of 3.5 deaths per 100,000 to just 2.94 per 100,000. In 2018, nearly 25% of all fatal crashes involved the use of alcohol.

Nothing is wrong with having a drink, but we need to be responsible. Have a friend drive you or stay at home. It's not worth the risk to endanger other drivers when taking to the road after drinking.

This information is provided to you for clarification of specific laws and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law. If you have any questions on any specific topic, you may always email me your questions to rmartin@co.lake.mi.us.

The earliest confirmed barley beer was discovered in Iran, where parts of a jug, from between 5,400 and 5,000 years ago was found to be coated with beerstone, a by-product of the brewing process.

Beer rapidly took hold as one of the worlds favorite - and safest - ways to drink. This was due to water not always being potable in some areas, and beer which was sanitized by heat, would have been safer to drink.

Beer arrived in old America with the first European colonists. Legend says that the Pilgrims ran out of beer, and needed to make more, so the first permanent structures they built were breweries.

As beer is a popular drink and past time for most, I wondered what brands are the most popular by sales.

Listed below, I have compiled the most recent list of popular beer sales in the U.S. This will not be a surprise to most.

1. Bud Light (Market share 13.24%)

2. Coors Light (Market share 6.82%)

3. Miller Lite (Market share 6.02%)

4. Budweiser (Market share 5.14%)

5. Michelob Ultra (Market share 4.97%)

6. Corona Extra (Market share 3.95%)

7. Modelo Especial (Market share: 3.56%)

8. Natural Light (Market share: 3.24%)

9. Busch Light (Market share: 3.07%)

10. Busch (Market share: 1.87%)