Basic Brewing Radio is one of the regular Podcasts I listen to. Usually James, the host, interviews homebrewers who have done interesting brewing experiments. Sometimes he interviews beer industry people. This particular episode is different. He basically gave us a recording of the Alabama State House debate of a bill that will hopefully make homebrewing legal in the last of the 50 states. If you don’t mind feeling dirty, I suggest you listen to it. There is constant fear mongering from people who seem to think Lucifer himself invented alcohol, where every other statement out of their mouth is an invocation about how they are good Christians who represent good Christian communities, despite wanting to do some very un-Jesus like controlling of your life. I imagine that if you could go back in time to late 1917 and early 1918, you would probably hear very similar arguments in the state house debates on whether to ratify the 18th Amendment.
Work has taken me to Alabama and Tennessee many times over the last year, and I have become vastly aware of the quagmire of laws regarding alcohol, not the least of them being the strange creature known as a dry county. Unheard of in the Midwest. A dry county does not prohibit procession of alcohol, as similar laws prohibit possession of other drugs, but it does prohibit the sale of alcohol in the county. It’s strange, because the people I meet down there don’t seem to think of alcohol as the devils juice, so I wonder how out of touch these politicians are.
Does the current law stop people from homebrewing? One of the politicians in the audio who decided to support this bill this year even pointed out that they are probably already brewing anyway. Mississippi has had at least one homebrew club since before their homebrew legalization bill passed two weeks ago. Why not Alabama? During national prohibition many of the former breweries that survived prohibition did it by selling malt syrup. Baking uses malt syrup, but probably the most popular (and “unofficial”) use was for homebrewing beer.
The bill did pass the house by a good margin and now moves to the Senate. It is not a perfect bill. The federal limit for homebrewing is 100 gallons a year (200 if more than one adult lives in the house), but this bill would allow 60 gallons a year (15 gallons every 3 months), and none in dry counties. At least it is progress. It only took 34 years for it to get this far in Alabama.
Now if the US could just end the ridiculous quagmire of regulations required to open a brewery, and the draconian double dipping tax system that first taxes the brewery per a barrel, and then taxes the cosumer with the increased liquor sales tax when he or she buys the beer, we could really live in a beertopia.
Mother’s in the kitchen, washing out the jugs;
Sister’s in the pantry, bottling the suds;
Father’s in the cellar, mixing up the hops;
Johnny’s on the porch, watching for the cops