The 18th amendment was enacted in 1919, and made the sale, production & transportation of alcoholic beverages illegal in the United states for 14 years. Until in 1933, the 21st amendment was established to repeal prohibition. You would assume that with prohibition repealed, Americans could once again exercise their right to brew their own beer, right?
Unfortunately, It would take another 46 years for the federal government to finally address this oversight and legalize Americans right to homebrew beer again.
We’ve come along way…
Beer lovers and brewers had to fight for nearly a century to regain their right to brew after prohibition. Even though Homebrewing was made legal by the United States government in 1979, states still reserved the right to regulate the production of beer & spirits in whatever way they saw fit, leaving the the last state to finally make HomeBrewing legal as recently as July of 2013!
With each state able to adopt it’s own set of standards, we have been left with a varied landscape of all different levels of regulation and control of the production, transportation and consumption of homebrewed beverages. With more conservative states prone to adopt strict regulations on the % ABV beer that you are able to produce and even limiting the ability for homebrewers to transport their beer or consume it outside of the residence it was brewed.
These types of overtly conservative laws make it difficult, if not impossible for any meaningful homebrewering community to survive in states where such archaic laws still exist. In a society where beer and spirits have become synonymous with social gatherings and celebrations of all kinds – It’s a shame that homebrewers are being isolated from competitions, tastings and the social interaction and community that these types of events encourage.
If you happen to live in one of these more restrictive states that still prohibit transportation and severly regulate production & consumption, I encourage you to seek out the resources available @ the HomeBrewers Association to educate yourself and find out how you can contribute to change your local state laws so that you can enjoy the same freedom that fellow homebrewers already exercise in so many other states.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can I Sell My HomeBrewed Beer?
Yes and No….
You must contact your states alcoholic beverage control commission and apply for a commercial brewery/winery license if you wish to sell any alcoholic beverages. The applications for such a permit typically detail a number of stringent requirements which must be met to qualify as a full fledged brewery/winery. So while it is legally possible, it’s not really feasible for most homebrewers.
**For more details, please contact your states ABC agency and ask for a brewery/winery permit application.
Is There A Limit To How Much Beer I Can Make?
The federal government has placed a limit of 100 gallons produced annually for “personal use”, and 200 gallons for households with 2 or more adults of drinking age.
Fun Fact! – 100 gallons averages out to about 1,000 bottles of beer per year, or 2.7 beers per day.
Do I Need A Permit to HomeBrew?
As of July, 2013 – It is legal in every state to brew your own beer for personal use. (no permit required) However it should be noted, that individual state laws may still restrict things like the transportation and amount of alcohol that can be contained in home made beer, wine, mead & cider.
**Please check your state laws for more information.
Do I Need A Permit to Distill Liqour?
You are required to obtain a permit to operate a distillery of any scale, even if it’s for home consumption & personal use. Generally speaking though, in actual practice permits are usually only granted if the distiller is seeking to open a commercial distillery.
What's the Highest ABV Beer I Can Brew?
While there are no Federal limitations in place, many states will place a restriction on the allowable ABV percentage of beer, typically ranging from 12% – 15% depending on the state.
**Please look up your state laws for exact figures.
Disclaimer: The above information regarding the rules and regulations in place by the US Federal government in regards to brewing beer & alcohol and all information related to the distribution & consumption thereof are to the best of my knowledge. While I have researched the topic thoroughly, I encourage you to seek additional validation where issues of legality are at stake.