When you hear about people who brew their own beer it can easily conjure up prohibition images of speakeasies and moonshine distilleries. Perhaps it’s the puritanical past of American liquor laws that make many of us wonder about the legality of homemade beer in the USA. In an attempt to put your mind at ease, let’s discuss the laws surrounding homemade beer to get the liquor flowing freely again!
For those of you interested in a little history you might remember that the 18th amendment to the US Constitution made home brewing beer illegal. Passed in 1919 the bill was enough to cause the prohibition era and also erupt an underground thriving black market of homemade brew. When President Carter signed H.R. 1337 in 1978 it officially ended the restrictions of the 18th amendment and allowed citizens to brew homemade beer without fear of taxation.
The official statute that outlines federal laws regarding home brewing is United States Code of Federal Regulations Title 27, Part 25, Subpart L, Section 25.205 and Section 25.206. It’s an interesting document to read as it outlines how much beer an individual or family of two adults can produce in a year as well as what they can do with the beverage once it is made. In general, you can rest safe and sound that brewing beer for personal use is completely legal.
Even though the federal government legalizes home brewing, individual states still have a say as to any specific laws. The only state left to completely ban home brewing is Alabama. Mississippi was also on this list until March 2013. So, unless you live in Alabama it’s best to research the legality of homemade beer in your specific state.
If you currently live in Alabama, or you strongly believe in the legalization of homemade beer in the USA, you can take action steps to let political leaders know you want the laws to be changed. In Alabama be sure to reference homebrew legalization bills HB9 and SB171 in any correspondence as both have passed committee hearings and will soon come before the full House and Senate.
You may be reading this and wondering why the legality of homemade beer in the USA is so important. What’s at stake if this right is limited? Some of the arguments against home brewers revolve around taxes and underage drinking. The reality is that there are not enough home brewers to even put a dint on the amount of taxes received from the sale of beer. It’s almost a non-issue to think that home brewers cause any type of financial crisis. Those accusing home brewers of promoting underage drinking typically don’t understand the slow, steady process of brewing a batch of beer. If minors are set on finding alcohol chances are they won’t wait three weeks until the supply is ready!
For most of you, rest assured that you are safe and protected under US law to brew your own beer at home. If you still have questions after reading this article then do your homework to make sure you understand any expectations when making homemade beer.