Home Brewing May Become Legal in Alabama
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Alabama's alcohol laws are changing again.
Legislation was approved in the Alabama Senate legalizing home brewing of beer, wine and mead.
Republican Sen. Larry Dixon of Montgomery sponsored the bill, even though he said he was not a home brewer.
"There are home-brewing clubs around the state," Dixon said. "It's their hobby. They don't have a legal way to get their product to their tastings and their shows where they judge the best beer."
Dixon said home-brewing clubs brought this issue to his attention.
"It was an Auburn club that contacted me and asked me if I would introduce this legislation," Dixon said. "These are good tax-paying citizens that have a hobby that involves making a home-brew beer and some of them even make mead."
John Little, founder of the Auburn Brew Club, said this is a big step toward getting home brewing legalized in Alabama.
"We are one of three states where home brewing and the home-brewing hobby is not legal," Little said.
Part of the bill would allow home brewers to transport products to shows and competitions. "It says they can take up to 20 gallons to a tasting, a showing or a judging and it has to be done in a wet county and in a facility that has an ABC on-premises license," Dixon said.
The bill limits the amount of product for transportation, but a federal law has been in place limiting how much an individual can brew at home.
"There's a federal law that regulates it at 240 gallons a year," Dixon said.
Andrew Smith, junior in biochemistry, said he had never heard of the Auburn Brew Club, but as a home brewer he was interested.
Smith, president of Theta Xi fraternity, has been brewing beer for close to a year.
"I like a lot of the heavier and higher alcohol brews," Smith said. "Not because it gets you drunk quicker, but because you get a lot better taste and it's a lot more full bodied."
Smith said he would like the chance to have some of his brews judged by professionals.
"My brew is for personal consumption," Smith said. "If I have a couple friends over, they'll drink some."
Smith suggested a company in Birmingham for anybody interested in starting to brew at home.
"There's a place called AlaBrew," Smith said. "They're amazing. They know what they're talking about and have been doing it all their lives."
Smith also said homebrewing is easier than people think, but can be time consuming.
"I couldn't believe how simple it was when I started," Smith said. "You have a five-gallon bucket, you have either a pre-made kit or your ingredients, you follow the recipe."
Little said the Auburn Brew Club has a Web site that chronicles the attempts to legalize home brewing in Alabama.
"There are two articles in particular," Little said. "One is called Alabama Home Brewing Legalization Part One, and then there's a part two. Those are two really good overviews of what's been happening so far."