The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

March 27, 2013

Alabama last state to prohibit home brewing


In Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant recently signed legislation allowing home brewers to make quite a lot of beer each year_100 gallons for households with one person who is over 21-years-old and 200 gallons if there are two or more people over 21-years-old.

That left Alabama alone in banning home brewing, according to the American Homebrewers Association. It estimates there are 1 million home brewers nationwide, with about 5,000 of them in Alabama. That has happened even though Alabama law prohibits an individual from owning the equipment to make alcohol.

The state's liquor control agency, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, has cracked down on the retail sale of home brewing equipment, but not on people who do it quietly in their homes. At least eight counties — Mobile, Montgomery, Jefferson, Madison, Tuscaloosa, Lee, Russell and Houston — have home brewing clubs.

ABC Board Director Mac Gipson said he's fine with the legislation because it contains strict limits to make sure people are only doing home brewing as a hobby.

Those limits are making no more than 15 gallons per three-month period. A home brewer could take his beer or wine to tastings and competitions, but couldn't sell it. Convicted felons couldn't participate in home brewing, and no one could do it in parts of the state where alcohol sales are illegal.

If the House and Senate approve the bill, it will be up to Gov. Robert Bentley to decide whether to let it become law. In the last two years, he has permitted new laws allowing the sale of beer in larger containers and encouraging the development of brew pubs and small breweries in Alabama.

Bentley said the home brewing bill is not a concern.

"I don't have any problem with it as long as they are not selling it. But I'm not going to do it because I don't drink," he said.

That gives Warren hope that the legislation may not go flat for the fifth year.

"We are as optimistic as we have ever been," he said.

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