Legality of Home Brewing

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Many people that are considering home brewing are concerned about the legality of this process. When we think of home brewing, Prohibition[1] comes to mind. This was a dismal period in the hearts of the many beer drinkers. It lasted far too long for their liking and took many years to get beer back on the market as strong as it was prior to Prohibition. The laws have changed a lot throughout the years, differently in many states and countries. Although home brewing is legal in most areas, you should check the legality in your state or country before you begin this fun process.


For many years after the Prohibition, home brewing was still illegal in certain areas of the United States in spite of the fact that Prohibition was repealed in 1933.


In 1978, in the U.S., an Act or bill was passed in Congress regarding home brewing during President Jimmy Carter’s tenure in office. Many people mistakenly believe his bill allowed the home brewing of beer and wine, which was at that time still illegal. The bill that was actually passed made certain amounts of home brewed beer for personal use exempt from taxation. To further understand this bill and other bills regarding home brewing, you can check your local statutes.

[1] The time period from 1920-33 when the 18th Amendment restricted any alcoholic beverages to be manufactured, transported or sold anywhere in the United States


The U.S. Constitutions have given each individual state the right to dictate the laws that will be in effect regarding the manufacture of home brewed beer or other alcoholic substances. Do not assume what is legal in one state will be legal in the next state. You don’t want to see a new hobby of yours turn into a nightmare of legal issues.


Alabama, for one, clearly states that it is illegal in all counties to have any equipment or apparatus used to manufacture any kind of alcoholic beverages. It’s also illegal there to have any illegally manufactured beverages brought into the state or transported inside the state.


Most of the states in the United States, however, do permit home brewing. There are some restrictions to the amounts of beer and the age of the person brewing. Most of these laws allow no more than 100 gallons of home brew per person per household and the person must be over the age of 21.


The maximum they can brew per year is 200 gallons. People that brew their own beers are restricted from selling it because the federal government taxes alcohol through excise taxes. Most Western countries have the same home brewing laws.


In Michigan, for instance, it’s perfectly legal to brew your beer if you are over 21 years of age but only up to 100 gallons. You can give your home brew to other people, but you cannot sell it. The 100 gallons, incidentally, can be broken down into 20 5-gallon batches of brew. Many home brewers like making smaller amounts at one time so they can experiment with different flavors, colors and varieties.


Kentucky, on the other hand, prohibits anyone from having in their possession any apparatus used in the manufacture of any alcoholic beverage including home brew. While they are more concerned with illegal distilling, their laws can also be extended to the home brewing of beer.


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