Rep. Mac McCutcheon, R-Capshaw, filed legislation last week that would allow Alabamians to manufacture limited amounts of beer, wine, cider and mead for personal or noncommercial uses.
“What this bill is all about is just allowing people in this state to have the hobby of homebrewing,” McCutcheon said Monday. “This is all about a hobby.”
Under the legislation, homebrewers would be able to make up to 15 gallons of the approved beverages every three months. McCutcheon said that would meet most homebrewers’ needs.
“When homebrewers brew beverages, it’s normally done in five gallon quantities,” he said.
The legislation would allow transportation of the alcohol to festivals and tasting contests. Personal production of liquor – including whiskey, bourbon, rum and vodka – would be forbidden and punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.
Alabama and Mississippi are the only two states that forbid homebrewing, according to the American Homebrewers Association. State law makes unlicensed manufacturing of alcohol a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to a $1,000 and the possibility of jail time. McCutcheon said law was excessive.
“Many of these people are professional people,” he said. “They work, (and) they have their integrity.”
Homebrewing advocates have tried to ease restrictions on personal beer manufacturing since the late 90s and have introduced a bill in each legislative session since 2009.
McCutcheon sponsored a version of the legislation in the 2011 Regular Session, which was defeated in a 47-26 vote. Six of the bill’s 22 co-sponsors voting against it and six more abstained or were absent for the vote. The legislation later won the “Shroud Award,” given by House staff to the “deadest” bill in the session.
McCutcheon said supporters “bent over backwards” to address concerns raised by opponents last year. It lowers the amount of alcohol that can be brewed by an individual from 100 gallons to 15, and forbids those convicted of a felony from participating in homebrewing.
An attempt to reach Alabama Homebrewing, the group pushing the bill, was unsuccessful Monday. Stuart Carter, a spokesman for Free the Hops, which has successfully fought several Alabama alcohol restrictions in recent years, said they “fully support” the homebrewing legislation.
– posted by Brian Lyman