A bit of beer news broke this week that was largely overlooked but which I think deserves special mention: Oklahoma passed legislation which makes it legal to homebrew beer in that state. As noted on RealBeer’s Beer Therapy blog:
House Bill 2348 officially legalized the home production of beer for personal use in Oklahoma. Home production of wine and cider for personal use was already legal in Oklahoma. The passage of HB 2348 leaves Alabama and Mississippi as the only remaining states where the homebrewing hobby is not yet legal. The U.S. government made homebrewing legal on a federal level in 1979.
Previously, Oklahoma law did allow for the production of wine and cider in the home, but not beer. So to celebrate both American Craft Beer Week and Oklahoma’s legalization of homebrewing, let’s raise a beer in toast.
There are a couple of other interesting points to note in the excerpt above, too. First is the note about the Federal legality of homebrewing: while it’s true that it was legalized by President Jimmy Carter at the Federal level (technically, it’s an exemption from taxation on beer brewed at home), it is still left up to the individual states to regulate homebrewing—which is why there are still a last few holdouts like Alabama and Mississippi.
And speaking of those two states, let’s take a look at the current state of affairs (no pun intended) for homebrewing (looking them up on the Homebrewers Association “Legalization” page):
- Alabama: the “possession of illegally manufactured alcoholic beverages” is prohibited.
The state of Alabama has both Wet and Dry counties and municipalities. The state maintains a tight control on all alcoholic beverage sale, manufacture, possession, etc… Alabama case law illustrates a historical trend in which the court has held homebrew to be a prohibited liquor. Up until the 1950s certain individuals have been convicted for the unlawful possession of prohibited liquor.
- Mississippi: allows for the home production of wine, but not for beer.
Individuals interested in having beer statutorily recognized in Mississippi should seek to have §67-3-11 amended to include the term “beer” or “malt beverage”. Two recent attempts to allow the home production of beer have failed.
Alcohol production laws are Byzantine at best, and while homebrewing beer is legal in the other 48 states, reading through some of the issues surrounding them do reveal some oddities.
Kentucky, for example: they default to the Federal law, but has no specific state statute allowing for it. And “homemade beer cannot be gifted or shared” which is vague enough to be worrisome.
Oregon has an interesting provision: “the holder of a brewery-public house license or a brewery license may allow patrons to brew malt beverages not to exceed 14 percent alcoholic content by volume if the brewing is conducted under the direct supervision of the licensee or employees of the licensee.” I am not aware of anyone taking advantage of this at any of our breweries though…
Idaho: “Any person shall have the privilege of manufacturing wine or brewing beer from native grown products for the personal use of himself, family, and guests.” Presumably “native” refers to being grown in Idaho.
If you’re a homebrewer, you should take the time to read up on the beer laws of your state—and if you live in Alabama or Mississippi, well, don’t tell anyone.
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