This year's regular session of the Alabama Legislature convenes on Tuesday, February 5, and the folks at Right to Brew will once again fight the good fight for homebrew legalization in our fine state.
Right to Brew is a grassroots organization of homebrewers whose mission is "to legalize homebrewing and home winemaking in the state of Alabama, so that the thousands of homebrewers here may enjoy their hobby without fear of prosecution". The goal of their Homebrew Legalization Bill (House Bill 9 and Senate Bill 171) is simple: make the act of homebrewing legal for Alabama residents of legal drinking age. Homebrewing is a completely legal activity in 48 U.S. states, but Alabama and Mississippi continue to classify it as a hobby worthy of a felony. With homebrewing remaining as an illegal practice, an integral part of our beer culture must remain underground for fear of prosecution and possibly losing one's job. Homebrewers are not criminals; they are hobbyists that engage in a practice that is no more dangerous than boiling water. According to the American Homebrewers Association your average homebrewer is “someone who is well educated and has a job in a technical or professional field. Homebrewers tend to be married and fit in the middle to upper-middle class income range”. Homebrewing is simply an artistic release that gives the brewer the satisfaction of creating something of their own.
Past attempts at homebrew legalization in Alabama have had their share of victories and bitter defeats. Right to Brew members believe that the bill they have prepared for this year's session may just be the one that finally earns them legalization. The facts of this year's Homebrew Legalization Bill are as follows:
- If passed, this bill would legalize the homebrewing of beer, cider, and wine for non-commercial use.
- Only people of legal drinking age can legally engage in homebrewing.
- Homebrewers would be permitted to produce up to 15 gallons of beer, cider, or wine each quarter for personal use. That is a total of 60 gallons per year of any homebrewed product.
- Homebrewers would be allowed to transport their products to participate in competitions.
- Homebrewers cannot sell their products.
- Distilling of spirits (or "moonshining") will remain an illegal activity. Homebrewing IS NOT distilling and homebrew IS NOT moonshine.
- Homebrewing would remain illegal in dry counties and dry areas of the state.
These terms are incredibly reasonable and still provide the regulation that so many opposing legislators have asked for in the past. If you wish to get involved in making homebrew a legal reality in Alabama, your mission is simple. All that is asked of you is to simply call, write or email your local representatives informing them that you support the Homebrew Legalization Bill (HB9 and SB171). If you do not know who your local representatives are or are unaware of their contact information, you can locate that information by clicking here.
We need the Homebrew Legalization Bill to pass so our homebrewers can exist openly in a beer culture, share their creations, compete in homebrew competitions, and hopefully one day grow to open breweries of their own. The Alabama beer community can never really be whole until homebrew is legalized. This is truly a matter where there is power in numbers. The more supporters that make those phone calls and write those emails, the greater chance homebrewing will achieve legalization. Please make your voice heard and help our homebrewers gain the right the majority of the country already enjoys. Prost!