The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

March 27, 2013

Alabama last state to prohibit home brewing

— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — With Mississippi legalizing home brewing, Alabama is now the only state that doesn't allow citizens to craft small amounts of beer or wine at home for their own use.

Home-brewing enthusiasts have been trying since 2009 to get the Alabama Legislature to legalize what several thousand people are already doing illegally. But they have always met with strong opposition.

"There is always a concern by lawmakers about voting in favor of alcohol bills," said Brant Warren of Huntsville, a member of Right to Brew.

This legislative session might be different. A bill by Republican Rep. Mac McCutchen of Capshaw is tentatively scheduled for consideration by the House when lawmakers return from spring break on April 2. McCutcheon got a similar bill approved by the House late in the 2012 session, but it died in the Senate because time was limited. McCutcheon said he's optimistic the House will pass it next week and get it to the Senate with plenty of time for consideration.

"With 49 states and the federal government allowing it, why should we in Alabama restrict a person from pursuing a hobby?" he said.

A church-based group, the Alabama Citizen Action Program, is leading the opposition. Executive Director Joe Godfrey said alcohol is "a mind-altering, addictive drug," and it will be harmful to children to see their parents making alcohol.

"Pre-teens typically get their first taste of alcohol in the home. While a parent may miss a can from a six-pack of beer in the refrigerator, will that parent miss 'swigs' of home-brewed beer taken from gallon jugs stored in the house?" he asked.

Godfrey said the bill is part of an Alabama trend over the last few years to make alcohol more available by approving alcohol sales in more towns, allowing Sunday sales in more cities, and approving the sale of beer with higher alcohol content.

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