If you or a friend live in Alabama and have bought one of those beer-making kits online — they run about $39.95 — and have brewed up a batch, you have committed a felony.
When powerful prohibitionists once roamed the halls on Goat Hill, the “drys” had the votes to outlaw the buying, selling and making of alcoholic beverages. Time passed and most of those laws fell by the wayside, leaving Alabama and Mississippi as the only states where home brewing is illegal.
Granted, the law did not stop the practice. There are those who can remember when most of Alabama’s “dry” grocery stores would display malt, sugar and yeast together, convenient for the home brewer. Today, this once-fugitive enterprise has become a pastime for many who treat home-brewing much like cooking — recreation enjoyed for the fun and creativity.
Yet, by law, those folks are still felons.
Past efforts to change or even repeal the homebrew law have failed. Now Rep. Mac McCutcheon, R-Huntsville, has filed a bill that would legalize home brewing of beer, wine and cider for non-commercial use.
McCutcheon’s concern comes from the fact that many of the people he represents, government workers who are in science and technology fields, like to experiment with home brewing. If they were arrested, they could lose their government-issued security clearance. He and others also point out that home brewing is how many people in the rapidly growing “craft beer” industry got their start. Making home brewing a crime stifles this enterprise and is a job killer.
The bill addresses many of the concerns of those who in the past have opposed home-brewing. It limits the amount that can be legally made, clarifies restrictions on transporting home brew to brewing competitions, and continues to prohibit people in dry counties from making their own.
Opponents of home brewing generally oppose the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages no matter how they are made. Their opposition is based primarily on religious grounds, though social concerns rank high, as well.
Supporters of home brewing cite the economic benefits and point out that there is little evidence to suggest that home brewers make their product to sell or to get drunk. With legal beer and wine readily available (distilling whiskey would still be outlawed), people who want to “tie one on” would hardly take the time and go to the expense to brew at home.
Although this page is not ignorant of the dangers that accompany alcohol consumption, we believe that changing the law so that home brewing would be legalized and better regulated is a good idea. McCutcheon’s bill is sound legislation and should be passed.