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‘We’re changing something’: can alcohol boost the Bible belt’s economy?

When some residents in the area around Chickamauga, Georgia wish to imbibe, they will drive 15 minutes into nearby Chattanooga, thinking that distance will give them anonymity to drink in public. Grown adults, 40 years old or so, will not drink in front of their parents.

Customers ask Skip Welsh, the co-founder of Phantom Horse Brewing Co in Rock Spring, to put their beer into a Styrofoam or red solo cup. They don’t want anyone to know what they are drinking.

In the heart of the Bible belt, alcohol is still steeped in stigma.

For years, blue laws and a cultural condemnation of alcohol has kept much of the rural south dry, or at least sipping light beer. Yet there is a growing embrace of alcohol in this corner of the country.

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