Alabama Right to Brew

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.

Listen to the Episode Here.

Alabama Right to Brew

I guess those politicians don’t dare too much.

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

Wisconsin Homebrew Laws

After prohibition of alcohol ended in 1933, they forgot to legalize homebrewing. Maybe “forgot” isn’t the correct word because there are all sorts of wrong with the regulations that allow somebody to brew and sell beer, but that’s another post. In 1979, Jimmy Carter signed a law that made making wine and beer in your home legal. Although federally it is legal, it is largely up to the states to regulate alcohol, and various states have different restrictions

I bet she threw the best party after the repeal.

The state of Wisconsin “forgot” to make it legal to transport home made beer and wine outside the home. Without this provision how are homebrewers to enter their beer into competitions? How are they to bring it to homebrew meetings? Most importantly how are they going to bring it over to a buddys house to watch the Packers lose to the Bears (it could happen)?

It didn’t really stop anybody since apparently nobody had even heard of that part of the law. It doesn’t even seem to be on the American Homebrewers Associations list of state homebrew laws. Nevertheless, it looks like the government of Wisconsin is actually headed in the right direction. A bill that passed the Wisconsin State Senate on Valentines Day would make transporting homemade beer and wine legal.

There is still strangely enough two states that don’t allow homebrewing, and several others where it is ambiguous (as is the way of governments). Maybe one day these states will stop fearing us terrible homebrewers.