“CALCohol” a useful tool?

Oftentimes, when you order a microbrew, one serving is equivalent to two light beers.

It’s a sometimes confusing guessing game that the State of Iowa wants to clear up.

But, not everyone’s convinced a new website is the way to go.

A sign hangs on the wall at Bent River Brewing Company in Moline that displays the alcohol content of all of their beers.

“Our beer is a little stronger than a Bud Light, Miller Light,” said Steve Cogdill, General Manager. “We want customers to know how much alcohol is in there, so they can control themselves if they have to.”

The growing popularity of microbrews, in part, prompted the state to create a website, activated this week, called CALCohol.

You enter in the proof or percentage of whatever type of alcohol you’re drinking, the number of ounces or liters you’re served and then it calculates the number of total standard drinks consumed. 

Some people mistakenly think it might tell  you whether or not you might be over the legal blood alcohol limit of .08.   

“If this was put out by the state and I had a big case against them, I’d use this against them,” said Steve Hanna, a local DUI attorney.

Hanna says the website, as far as he can tell, is not very reliable.

“If I can’t figure it out, how’s a layperson, especially after a few drinks, sitting at the bar, going to figure this out,” said Hanna.

Bent River management says their servers likely won’t use the website to determine serving sizes.

“We get so busy, it’d be impossible to calculate for every customer,” he said.

But, Cogdill says, it’s not a bad thing for customers who want to make sure they’re not drinking too much.

“The more tools they have to do that, probably the better off they’re going to be.”

The best tool, both say, is for drinkers to rely on their better judgement.

The website host, the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Commission, isn’t worried about it being used as a defense in drunk-driving cases because, they say, it’s not a BAC calculator, which takes into account a  person’s weight.

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