Home Brew Bill to go before legislature - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Home Brew Bill to go before legislature

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STATEWIDE -

In all but two states, Mississippi and Alabama, home-brewing of beer and wine is legal. 

Proposed legislation would put Alabama with the majority of states.

One representative filed a bill to legalize home brewing of beer, wine and cider for non-commercial use.

Opponents say a bill like this opens the door to more alcohol abuse in our society.

Proponents, on the other hand, consider home brewing a hobby. They say responsible people do it everywhere.

"It's amazing to me, the amount of people who have expressed interest in this, state-wide. Some estimates say we could have as much as 5,000 people in the state of Alabama who want to home brew," says republican representative Mac McCutcheon.

McCutcheon wants to make it possible for people to brew their own.

"We're bringing the bill back up again, we've made amendments to it," he says.

House Bill Nine, otherwise known as the "Home Brew Bill", would allow people 21 and older to brew up to 15 gallons of beer, cider, wine or mead for personal use every three months. Fifteen gallons is about same capacity as a keg.

Home brewers couldn't sell their product, but they could transport it to competitions.              

Distilling whiskey would still be illegal. Also, if you live in a dry county, you couldn't brew your own.
 
"I think we've addressed every issue that we've got. And it just boils down to the issue now, of will the legislature vote to pass it," McCutcheon says."

One of the bill's strongest opponents is the Alabama Citizens' Action Program.

Executive director Joe Godfrey  says the state's alcohol laws are getting too lenient. He points to a recent change that allows for large format bottles to be sold.

Godfrey believes even small-scale brewing is bad for society.

"We are opposed to all alcohol liberalization bills," says Godfrey. "Alcohol is a mind bending, addictive drug. It has an addictive nature to it. It destroys families, it destroys lives, it's bad for our culture and our society and it's been proven over and over again."

McCutcheon says, "I think at the end of the day, there needs to be an understanding with abuse of a substance rather than with the substance itself."

The bill got a big endorsement when local distributor Birmingham Budweiser came on board.

Danner Kline, craft beer manager for Birmingham Budweiser says the bill will support growth in the local craft beer industry.

"People should have the right to do what they want in their own home," says Kline.

Alabama has seen a rise in the number of locally-owned craft beer companies,  including Birmingham's Good People Brewing Company.

Jason Malone, a brewer for Good People says it's a matter of freedom.

If it wasn't for home brewing, our brewery would not be in existence. Because that's where we learned our craft," says Malone. "We're all for the expansion of liberty, not the reduction. So if it worked for us, I think it should work for other folks as well."

For more information about the Right to Brew movement, click here.

For more information on the Alabama Citizens' Action Program, click here.

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