US home beer brewers seek changes to alcohol laws

on 23/03/12 at 11:28 am

Beer

About the only thing Kevin Flynn enjoys more than drinking his home-brewed beer is sharing it with fellow beer club members at festivals and tasting competitions. So Flynn and his buddies were shocked to discover that Wisconsin law prohibits sharing homemade suds anywhere outside the brewer’s home.

The law could “pretty much be the end of competitions in Wisconsin,” he lamented. “At least legal ones.”

An explosion of interest in home brewing is forcing lawmakers across the country to review long-forgotten alcohol laws, some of which date back to Prohibition. Although the old rules have rarely been enforced, beer enthusiasts fear they could criminalize the rapidly growing hobby and kill scores of annual tasting events that bring tourists to small towns and cities.

In Wisconsin, Flynn and other home brewers may soon be off the hook. The state Legislature last week passed a bill to allow them to transport homemade beer and wine and to share it with other adults. Brewers will still not be permitted to sell anything they make, and they will remain exempt from permit requirements and taxes.

The proposal now heads to Gov. Scott Walker, who plans to sign it into law.

At least 17 states have ambiguous laws on whether home brewers can transport beer or wine outside the home, according to the American Homebrewers Association in Boulder, Colorado.

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