It’s been a long road for home brewers who have lived in states where the hobby has been illegal. But when July 1 comes, that will no longer be of concern.
The last remaining states have finally come to their senses and will now allow their citizens to brew their own beer at home. On May 9, after a five-year battle, Alabama legalized the practice. The last state will be Mississippi, where it will be legal beginning on July 1.
So, why have states been preventing home brewing?
One snag was the good old morality issue. In Alabama, for example, Republican Rep. Arthur Payne stated, “We’re just completely opening up the whole state to alcohol— every family, every home, every block.” Maybe this was the same reason that Utah and Oklahoma didn’t allow home brewing until 2009 and 2010. Honestly, that argument doesn’t seem all that valid. In the past, guys named George Washington and Thomas Jefferson made their own brew. They turned out alright, as did the young country they helped establish.
Of course, there are some valid concerns.
States need to have some restrictions on the amount of beer produced and how home brewers can distribute their product. After-all, we don’t want to have a 21st-century version of moonshiners on our hands. There’s also the question on whether or not home brewers are trying to bypass paying for licenses that commercial brewers have to. But, that’s probably not the case.
James Spencer, the host of a popular podcast about home brewing, stated that “the spirit of home is not to make it to sell,’ but rather, “the spirit of home brewing is to make it to share.”
It’s obvious that home brewing is growing in popularity. Just take a look at the number of public festivals and competitions that honor the hobby. Furthermore, the American Homebrewers Association now has 37,000 members, up from 8,700 in 2005. It’s also been estimated that about a million Americans brew their own beer at least once a year. And there’s also been an increase in the number of home brew supply stores. Because the hobby is continuing to grow, states had no other option but to make it legal. It wouldn’t make sense for respected members of the community to get busted because they were making their own beer.
Besides the possibility of some positive economic impacts, and our individual right to home brew, there’s one reason why us beer lovers should be celebrating the fact that all 50 states will now allow home brewing.
“Most craft brewing came out of home brewing,” Jim Koch, founder of Samuel Adams, said. If you don’t recall, breweries like Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada began as home brewing operations before expanding into well-known and respected businesses.
Who knows. Maybe the next great craft beer will be coming out of a kitchen in Alabama or Mississippi.