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Homebrew? Not in Alabama or Mississippi.
June 13, 2011 8:38 PM   Subscribe

Think making beer at home is legal? Depends where your home is.

In 1978, US President Carter signed H.R. 1337, which, among other things, provided an exemption from excise taxes on up to 100 gallons of homemade wine and beer annually. It was still up to the individual states to decide whether or not to allow their citizens to brew.

33 years later, homebrewing is a very popular hobby, legal almost all states.

Except Mississippi and Alabama.

On April 26, 2011, the Alabama Homebrewing Legalization Bill (H.R. 266) was defeated in the House of Representatives 47-27.

You can hear debate excerpts here.
posted by Marky (70 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
1337. Heh.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:41 PM on June 13, 2011 [19 favorites]


Except Mississippi and Alabama.

Yeah, well, nearly half of Mississippi Republicans think interracial marriage should be illegal and in Alabama it's still illegal to sell vibrators.

Just sayin'.
posted by emjaybee at 8:50 PM on June 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Not quite "at home" brewing, but stepping up to craft-scale, it looks like lobbyists for the larger companies are trying to pull a fast one on the little guys in Wisconsin.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:51 PM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


On April 26, the 2011 Alabama Homebrewing Legalization Bill was defeated in the House of Representatives.

I'd be very curious to know which special interests are behind this. I can't imagine a prohibition on homebrewing is just because it doesn't sit well with an Alabama legislator's moral compass.
posted by crapmatic at 8:54 PM on June 13, 2011


How about outside the US?
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:54 PM on June 13, 2011


I just think the moonshiners of Mississippi and Alabama don't want competition from legal homebrew beer.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:57 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine a prohibition on homebrewing is just because it doesn't sit well with an Alabama legislator's moral compass.

Are you very well acquainted with any Southern Baptists? The county in which Jack Daniel's is distilled is still dry; it took a special act of the Tennessee state legislature to allow them to sell commemorative bottles of their own product at their distillery.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:58 PM on June 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


How about outside the US?

International Waters: "The Land the Law Forgot"

that's where they held the Tyson-Secretariat fight
posted by jpdoane at 9:05 PM on June 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


But you do have to wonder why the same people who are adamant that government should do as little as possible and we have the right to keep all the Uzis we want next to our pillows are usually the first in line to put a stop to laws like this. It's socialism and totalitarian for the government to provide health care to its citizens, but apparently it's just perfect if government agents kick in your front door because you whipped up a couple bottles of a legal and popular substance made from a few simple ingredients.
posted by zachlipton at 9:08 PM on June 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


Move to New Zealand.
posted by New England Cultist at 9:10 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


You hardly ever saw Granddaddy down here, he only came to town about twice a year. He'd buy a hundred pounds of yeast and some copper line. Everybody knew that he made moonshine.

Now the revenue man wanted Granddaddy bad, he headed up the holler with everything he had. It's before my time but I've been told: he never came back from Copperhead Road.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:11 PM on June 13, 2011 [21 favorites]


Ahh, the mighty Mississipi. The old miss. The old man. Deeeeep riber...my home is over Jordan.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:11 PM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


We've been trying to change the law in Texas for years to allow vistors to craft brewers to take home a small amount of beer; a six pack or two. This year it was Anheuser-Busch that scuttled the effort that had gone further than it ever had.

It makes no sense, wineries allow you to buy wine and this wouldn't be enough volume to threaten the powerful distributors, but every year we get thwarted. This is a small change that would help local businesses, but not gonna see that from Rick Perry.
posted by beowulf573 at 9:17 PM on June 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


For crying out loud, Mississippi legalized gambling in the 90s. There's just not as many greased palms in this fight.

There is only one brewery in Mississippi (Lazy Magnolia) and though they are making inroads as far as Florida, they are stymied by the crappy distribution laws -- they can't sell beer in their own brewery, for instance. Most of Mississippi really doesn't care and would rather drink Bud Light. Politicians don't want to risk pissing off the Bible-thumpers north of I-10.

BTW, good luck finding anyone in Mississippi who would actually prosecute a homebrewer unless they were selling.

Also: If you're passing thru Hattiesburg -- visit the Keg & Barrel, the only beer oasis in the state (even though everything must be under 5% ABV by law)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:26 PM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


1. Earlier this week I was in a Williams-Sonoma store in Birmingham. On display in their front window was a home-brewing kit complete with everything you need to make a terrible, expensive IPA.

2. Down the street from my house is a store called "Love Stuff" that sells lingerie, vibrators, dildos, inflatable sex dolls, fuzzy handcuffs, and porn DVDs.

So. Illegal? Yes. Enforced? No.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:28 PM on June 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


Except Mississippi and Alabama.

In some states they probably fought off powerful lobbies of giant beer distributors, with the forces of common sense and patriotic liberty winning out over the paid lies and blind rhetoric of the big donors. But in these two states it was probably a few calls from corner store owners owned by third cousins that sank the bill. There is no worse corruption than the convenient and affordable kind.
posted by Brian B. at 9:29 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm proud to say that I used to brew beer when it was technically illegal. Not that anyone was enforcing the law, but it's still a badge of honor for me.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:29 PM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Forget the fizzy beer and fruity wine, let me know when it's legal to distill some real rotgut at home - in any quantity - here in the U.S. of A.
posted by webhund at 9:32 PM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


zachlipton: "But you do have to wonder why the same people who are adamant that government should do as little as possible and we have the right to keep all the Uzis we want next to our pillows are usually the first in line to put a stop to laws like this. It's socialism and totalitarian for the government to provide health care to its citizens, but apparently it's just perfect if government agents kick in your front door because you whipped up a couple bottles of a legal and popular substance made from a few simple ingredients."

Yeah they hate when I make my opium infused purple sticky salvia beer. Or maybe I just dreamed that. Hey, get out of my head.

But seriously. I've been using a cheap ass Mr. Beer setup for several years. Yeah, it's pretty much the low end of the spectrum. But I'm in NYC and I never even considered the legal aspect. I'm surprised to find out that there are places where it isn't legal.
posted by Splunge at 9:35 PM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


posted by beowulf573 We've been trying to change the law in Texas for years to allow vistors to craft brewers to take home a small amount of beer; a six pack or two.

You've got a long way to go, and a short time to get there. But for eighty grand, I'll drive a semitruck with 400 cases of Coors from Texas all the way to Georgia.
posted by mattdidthat at 9:37 PM on June 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Just a slightly off topic rant on Blue Laws: I grew up in Arkansas, and my hometown and college town were thankfully in wet counties, but there are still restrictions. In the entire state of Arkansas you cannot buy liquor on Sunday. Only beer and wine in a restaurant. Liquor stores are closed on Sunday. Some counties have beer and wine in the grocery stores, and some counties don't--you have to go to a liquor store to buy any kind of alcohol. And if you live in a dry county, you're fucked. Gotta drive to the next (wet) county over to get your booze. Usually some enterprising soul sets up a liquor store right on the county line.

I blame all this nonsense on Southern Baptists. Every now and then a bill would come up in the AR state legislature to repeal or reform the Blue Laws, but the goddamn Baptists would fight it every time. And win. Alabama and Mississippi are even worse about all this stuff. It serves little purpose but to bring their own version of Sharia law to the U.S.
posted by zardoz at 9:38 PM on June 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


mattdidthat: "posted by beowulf573 We've been trying to change the law in Texas for years to allow vistors to craft brewers to take home a small amount of beer; a six pack or two.

You've got a long way to go, and a short time to get there. But for eighty grand, I'll drive a semitruck with 400 cases of Coors from Texas all the way to Georgia.
"

I'll give you eighty grand to drive 400 cases of Coors off of a cliff and into the sea. Poor fucking fish. Aw, who am I kidding, they'll never notice a difference.
posted by Splunge at 9:52 PM on June 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


Every place has its stupid laws, Splunge, usually with some special interest or another behind it. It wasn't that long ago that garbage disposal units were illegal in NYC, courtesy of the garbage hauling racket.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:13 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


webhund -

I think that other considerations for the abolition of home distilation include 1) people blowing themselves up because they're inattentive, for whatever reason, when the ... boiling pot/bulb/bit ... boils dry and explodes and 2) quality control - what's to stop incompetent people from selling a product tainted with hazardous other solvents?

The law is stupid, I agree. I'd totally build my own apparatus to make brandy from self-made wines (when/if I can afford to buy a house with a garage or back yard). Here in BC, I think it might actually be more of a tax code thing rather than a bootlegging thing.

Comparing home-distillation explosions and meth explosions could be instructive.
posted by porpoise at 10:38 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


but the goddamn Baptists would fight it every time

I bet the guys with the liquor stores right across the border from the dry counties fought it, too.
posted by kenko at 10:39 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


In some states they probably fought off powerful lobbies of giant beer distributors, with the forces of common sense and patriotic liberty winning out over the paid lies and blind rhetoric of the big donors. But in these two states it was probably a few calls from corner store owners owned by third cousins that sank the bill. There is no worse corruption than the convenient and affordable kind.

But is home brewing even a remotely significant threat to established brewers? Baking your own bread is perfectly legal, yet bakers don't seem to be endangered by the competition. The same could be said for home cooking vs. restaurants. If anything, home brewers are more likely to get out and try more commercially brewed beers as they explore different tastes and styles.

Some of those debate excerpts are absurd. Representatives seriously think that underage teens are going to brew 100 gallons of beer in their bedrooms for a party? And that this process would actually be easier and more secretive than the myriad of existing ways teens are getting booze right now? Have you ever actually spoken to a teenager?

Alvin Homes is crazy: "You don't have the facilities to make sure that it's healthy. What is M E A D mead? What is that? How are you going to keep the kids from becomin' winos?... When I have a cocktail, I drink Chivas Regal. Chivas Regal is stamped and approved by the government agency that said this is healthy, but you think I would drink something that was made in somebody's house? Man, you're going to make everybody be a wino!" Ignoring the fact that mead is over 9,000 years old and should be known to the Alabama legislature, it appears that this man, who just make a product endorsement on the Alabama House floor, actually thinks that the government has declared his Chivas Regal to be healthy. I presume he's never ate food that was cooked in somebody's house.
posted by zachlipton at 10:43 PM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just got my American Homebrewers Association membership card in the mail today.

If you are interested in legalization, this is a good place to look. They are fighting the good fight. And even if you don't brew, the pub discount enough is worth the price of the membership.

The homebrew industry has been growing like crazy. I would love for Midwest supplies, northern brewer, Austin homebrew, blichman engineering, wyeast, white labs, the hop producers and the maltsters, etc... to see a big enough market in these two states that they donate enough money to buy a lobbyist or two.
posted by Dr. Curare at 10:44 PM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I live in the UK so yeah, I'm pretty sure it's legal, thanks.
posted by Decani at 10:46 PM on June 13, 2011


I now believe that homebrewing is one of the best kept secrets from teen age kids. I made ten gallons of beer this last weekend, all grain. I wanted a light lawn mower beer, so the brew was cheap to make. Not a little cheep, but 15 cents a pint cheap. If kids figured out they could make ten gallons for under $20 high school kids would be...well, most likely the same but the parties would be better.
posted by Felex at 10:51 PM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sure, a 100 gallons sounds like a big number, but they do realize that with all their arguments of everyone becoming a wino, and this being a boon to bootleggers, that 100 gallons a year is about 2 pints a day? A piddlingly small amount that any wino or bootlegger would laugh at?
posted by team lowkey at 10:57 PM on June 13, 2011


I think that other considerations for the abolition of home distilation include 1) people blowing themselves up because they're inattentive, for whatever reason, when the ... boiling pot/bulb/bit ... boils dry and explodes and 2) quality control - what's to stop incompetent people from selling a product tainted with hazardous other solvents?

Huh? It's perfectly legal to do all kinds of things in your home that might explode or cause major damage if you're inattentive. Anybody who has ever left a pot of oil on the stove can attest to this fact. Heck, here's a recent incident in which a pressure cooker exploded and severed a 79-year-old woman's leg. Presumably, well designed legal home distillation equipment can have safety features to reduce any such risks.

As for quality control, how is the problem any worse than with food contamination? We already have a system of laws that regulate food products intended for sale: commercial kitchens, health inspections, purity standards, product labeling, etc... There's nothing to stop me, a completely incompetent baker, from dumping a cup of bleach in a bowl of cookie dough, popping a tray in the oven, and donating the toxic cookies to the local school bake sale, but such things don't often happen. If we wanted to prevent people from producing intentionally or unintentionally tainted or dangerous foodstuffs, we would be banning home cooking in general, but that's obviously absurd. Why is the risk greater for booze?
posted by zachlipton at 10:59 PM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


people blowing themselves up because they're inattentive

Still don't explode, because they're not sealed or even pressurised vessels. If you were using an external heat source to fire the boiler, it might melt after boiling dry (unlikely, but possible, I suppose), but with an internal element, all that's going to happen is it'll burn itself out. A simple sensor that switches off the element when the liquid drops below a certain point or the element temp exceeds a certain value makes modern stills as set and forget as a toaster or an electric kettle.

quality control - what's to stop incompetent people from selling a product tainted with hazardous other solvents?

Why would anybody do this? Why is this a risk unique to spirits? Who said anything about selling it?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:08 PM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I live in the UK so yeah, I'm pretty sure it's legal, thanks.

Legal in Australia. I understand that it was the very final act that Sir Gough Whitlam managed to put through before his dismissal.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:12 PM on June 13, 2011


I'm about to move to Canada, land of the massively price-fixed shite lager. I plan to do a lot more brewing this year. I've been really into making meads, lately. It's hella easy to throw down a one-gallon batch, and I can throw in various kinds of juice and experiment a lot. Lots of fun... And the stuff will knock you on your ass.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:16 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huh? It's perfectly legal to do all kinds of things in your home that might explode or cause major damage if you're inattentive.

It's also semi-legal for others to do it as well. Depending on the time frame of course. This past weekend I spent about $2000 US having a licensed electrician remove a code violation from my home. When they were installed my breaker boxes were quite legal. But that was back in the 1970s and I only found out that I could lose my insurance (at the best) and my life (at the worst) when I had other incidental work done.

Back when those breakers were still UL approved, my grandpa used to make raisin wine in the basement. I'll never forget the batch that went bad, fermented in the bottle, and the muffled explosions one hot Sunday afternoon. The basement was unfinished and the glass was everywhere. Even imbedded in the ceiling. The smell was... well, it was strong. I was lucky enough to be old enough (along with my brother) to be on the clean up crew. So yeah, life is a dangerous thing. And I'll never touch a raisin again, if I live to be my grandpa's age.
posted by Splunge at 11:46 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


emjaybee writes "Yeah, well, nearly half of Mississippi Republicans think interracial marriage should be illegal and in Alabama it's still illegal to sell vibrators.

"Just sayin'."


Just saying that if anyone one could use a frothy home brew it's these people?

porpoise writes "I think that other considerations for the abolition of home distilation include 1) people blowing themselves up because they're inattentive, for whatever reason, when the ... boiling pot/bulb/bit ... boils dry and explodes "

Well they don't explode if that happens anymore than a pot of kraft dinner going dry does. The slight risk is from the alcohol produced in conjunction with an open flame but that risk is probably significantly less than gasoline.

porpoise writes "2) quality control - what's to stop incompetent people from selling a product tainted with hazardous other solvents?"

If this is the concern make sale rather than production illegal.

Splunge writes "This past weekend I spent about $2000 US having a licensed electrician remove a code violation from my home."

Federal Pioneer breakers aren't a code violation. They were listed at the time of installation and grandfathering in code rules means they'd still be legal if installed when listed. IMO they are unsafe however that is a different issue. And of course insurance companies can make up what ever rules they want.
posted by Mitheral at 12:00 AM on June 14, 2011


Slowly but surely, we're getting there.

And Wednesday, I get to celebrate with 1800 members of the AHA. It will be awesome.

If people want to miss out on the fun, let him. It'll mean the keg supply won't run out as fast. (Not that I need anymore. I'm driving 26 kegs down to San Diego)
posted by drewbage1847 at 12:05 AM on June 14, 2011


"I think that other considerations for the abolition of home distilation include 1) people blowing themselves up because they're inattentive, for whatever reason, when the ... boiling pot/bulb/bit ... boils dry and explodes and 2) quality control - what's to stop incompetent people from selling a product tainted with hazardous other solvents?"

Only if you are both simultaneously an idiot and attempted to build a still that is ill suited to that stupidity. My favorite design is based on a 10 gallon bucket, which you build a false bottom for that doesn't touch the sides. You then place the mash in a smaller container and rest it on the false bottom with an aquarium style immersion heater set to 45-50°C in it and seal the whole business up worry free. Its simple and inexpensive to make, odor free, doesn't need any kind of cooling (though it would work faster in a cool basement), small and easy to hide, and easy to dismantle.

MeMail me with an email address I can send a PDF to if you would like more detailed instructions
posted by Blasdelb at 12:14 AM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Objections to legal homebrewing are utter silliness. The only real risk associated with homebrewed beer is the awkward tasting sessions you might put your friends through before you've figured out exactly how to perfect your beer's body and flavor. #northwesternhazards
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:21 AM on June 14, 2011


I used to make mead. Quite decent mead, as well as kvas, and malinova. I did make some boza, which is not bad IF you are a Balkans person, but not wonderful otherwise. Anyway, I bought home made wine and medovača at the Markale, and some festival dedicated to traditional Bosnian foods, herbal remedies and drinks.
People distil their own alcohol at home. In fact there are smal trucks resembling fuel oil trucks which go to farms, they make a run of some form of rakija or other for which the driver of the truck is paid in cash and some bottles of the rakija.
Many rural people have their own stills. this was so under socialist Yugoslavia, and remains so in most of the non-EU countries in the region. I don't know what the tax situation was or is now. I do know that consumption of home-made wine and rakija is taken for granted.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:31 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Federal Pioneer breakers aren't a code violation.

I don't know what the rules are in your neck of the woods but in NYC they are.
posted by Splunge at 12:38 AM on June 14, 2011


Some of the best drinks I tasted were homemade spirits and wines in Croatia. And also the cheapest - I figure they were tax free since there was no paper trail behind the transaction.
posted by hat_eater at 12:39 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, bad link. This. Sorry for the derail.
posted by Splunge at 12:40 AM on June 14, 2011


Didn't Mark Twain say "If I owned Hell and Mississippi, I'd rent out Mississippi and live in Hell"?
posted by acb at 2:42 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine a prohibition on homebrewing is just because it doesn't sit well with an Alabama legislator's moral compass.

and

Objections to legal homebrewing are utter silliness. The only real risk associated with homebrewed beer is the awkward tasting sessions you might put your friends through before you've figured out exactly how to perfect your beer's body and flavor.

I'd be willing to bet that the real objection had little to do with either morality or safety concerns and everything to do with money. Mississippi has one of the highest beer taxes in the country, so the legislature's not going to be well disposed to give what amounts to exemptions to that. And while the beer distributor's lobby is in favor of raising the limit on alcohol content (currently 5% ABV, lowest in the country) because it'd let them sell more beer, they're going to be against permitting anyone to get beer from someone other than them.
posted by valkyryn at 3:08 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the entire state of Arkansas you cannot buy liquor on Sunday. Only beer and wine in a restaurant.

Places that do on-premises brewing (Vino's, Boscos and Diamond Bear in Little Rock, and at least one place in Fayetteville) are permitted to sell growlers (or, in the case of DB, six-packs) on Sundays. And so they sell a lot of them.
posted by box at 4:22 AM on June 14, 2011


Maybe it's time to go back to 48 states. Just sayin'.
posted by tommasz at 5:08 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that other considerations for the abolition of home distilation include 1) people blowing themselves up because they're inattentive, for whatever reason, when the ... boiling pot/bulb/bit ... boils dry and explodes and 2) quality control - what's to stop incompetent people from selling a product tainted with hazardous other solvents?

You could check the NZ experience, but they're not American, so who knows if they count?
posted by pompomtom at 5:28 AM on June 14, 2011


derail/

Bitter Old Punk, you can buy those vibrators, but you need a prescription.

In Alabama, sex toys are technically banned unless, as The Huntsville Times reports, they're used for the "stimulation of human genital organs" for a "bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial or law enforcement purpose."

So after customers provide their signed and dated doctor's prescription, they can claim the vibrator, blow-up doll or lubricant of their choosing.


/derail
posted by emjaybee at 5:37 AM on June 14, 2011


I've always wondered about the blue laws in Maryland. Here, on Sunday, you can't buy liquor, beer, or wine from a dedicated liquor store. You can, however, buy all of these items from a bar for carry out. What I don't understand is why they allow alcohol sales on Sunday but it just is more inconvenient? Why not allow liquor stores to just be open on Sundays?
posted by josher71 at 5:48 AM on June 14, 2011


As a homebrewer, when I listened to that youtube vid of legislators speaking, it pissed me off, then I felt a bit bad, because there is much worse shit going on than a couple states legislators being bought off by InBev and MillerCoors.

You have to listen to it, and look at the letters by the names of the speakers. They aren't all R's. They're mostly D's. Some barely literate ones at that. I realize that not every legislator can be as educated on a topic as well as the people who want to engage in that topic, and for whom that topic is a important part of their life. But damn, the ignorance displayed in that testimony is overwhelming. Needless to say, I won't be moving to AL any time soon.

I believe that in Mississippi, there is no law regarding homebrewing, so wouldn't it be legal by default since it is at the federal level?
posted by jbelshaw at 6:19 AM on June 14, 2011


I've always wondered about the blue laws in Maryland.

Blue laws never really made any kind of coherent, rational sense. They all reflect some frequently incomprehensible confluence of financial interests. Take Indiana for example. No alcohol sales on Sunday. The beer distributors and liquor stores are all pretty dead set against permitting alcohol sales on Sunday, but grocery stores and convenience stores all want it. Why? Because permitting Sunday sales probably isn't going to change the volume of alcohol sold, just spread it out a little more. Which means that everyone is going to sell about as much as they did before, only now the beer distributors and liquor stores need to pay for an extra day of labor, which hurts their profitability, whereas the grocery stores and convenience stores were going to be open anyway.

The debate is couched in terms of promoting drinking responsibly or increasingly anachronistic appeals to taking Sunday off, contra job growth and economic efficiency. But no one's really fooled. This is really about changing the regulatory framework which supports a certain kind of business model. The same is likely true of the original blue laws, only things have changed to the point that we've forgotten what the original debate really was.
posted by valkyryn at 6:19 AM on June 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


emjaybee: No, you don't need a prescription. You have to sign a form swearing the purchase is for a medical purpose. I signed my form "Governor Bob Riley". The clerks laughed.

/derail
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:20 AM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


In the entire state of Arkansas you cannot buy liquor on Sunday. Only beer and wine in a restaurant.

That's still mostly true in PA. There are a few random state stores open on Sundays but they're rare.
posted by octothorpe at 6:21 AM on June 14, 2011


In the entire state of Arkansas you cannot buy liquor on Sunday.

I think that's true of at least a dozen other states, including NC, whose state monopoly stores are always closed on Sundays.
posted by mediareport at 6:27 AM on June 14, 2011


I made beer in Georgia while it was still illegal. There were a couple of supply stores, too, but they really did get raided every year or so--it was sort of like those hydroponic stores, you know, barely legal. This was in the late 80s.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:57 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


At least one homebrew shop also sells hydroponic stuff. We maybe shouldn't mention that to the Alabama legislature.
posted by box at 7:20 AM on June 14, 2011


In the entire state of Arkansas you cannot buy liquor on Sunday.

I think that's true of at least a dozen other states, including NC.


Splitting the difference, in Tennessee, you can buy liquor on Sunday, just not before noon.

Whatever.
posted by valkyryn at 7:31 AM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


jbelshaw - Mississippi has statutory recognition of the right to make homemade wine, but beer is never stated. That pretty much means it's a no go.

Mississippi Regulations

The efforts in Mississippi keep running up against various obstacles. One year was the distributors. (Beer distributors have a startling amount of power at the state level.) The current obstacle appears to be the legislator that chairs the committee the legalization bill has to roll through. This year and I believe the year before he effectively stated that no alcohol bills were going to pass his committee.
posted by drewbage1847 at 8:12 AM on June 14, 2011


I think that other considerations for the abolition of home distilation include 1) people blowing themselves up because they're inattentive, for whatever reason, when the ... boiling pot/bulb/bit ... boils dry and explodes and 2) quality control - what's to stop incompetent people from selling a product tainted with hazardous other solvents?

The law is stupid, I agree. I'd totally build my own apparatus to make brandy from self-made wines (when/if I can afford to buy a house with a garage or back yard). Here in BC, I think it might actually be more of a tax code thing rather than a bootlegging thing.

Comparing home-distillation explosions and meth explosions could be instructive.



Stills as, noted by others above, are open systems. Even back in the day, the most common cause of still explosions was dynamite packed under them by revenuers. A properly crafted still will also have some safety release in place, should the condenser line become clogged by mash that has burped up and the system become closed. Even very simple alebmics seal the helmet to the pot using nothing more than flour paste. Should any pressure arise, you get a pop as the cap comes off, and a sudden release of pressure.

I suppose that people building improperly constructed stills in their garages is maybe a concern, but if hobby distillation was legal, they'd have no reason to.

As far as solvents? Again, if it was legal, then people would not condense their distillate in car radiators. A copper still imparts no hazardous toxins. Likewise, you are not going to poison yourself or others even by not properly cutting a distillate made from a natural fermentation. At worst, you'll give yourself a wicked hangover. It takes quite a bit of willful negligence, though, to make a truly nasty spirit.

The *only* reasons that hobby distillation is illegal in the US are 1: excise tax, and 2: lobbying dollars from Big Liquor
posted by kaseijin at 8:40 AM on June 14, 2011


josher71 writes "What I don't understand is why they allow alcohol sales on Sunday but it just is more inconvenient? Why not allow liquor stores to just be open on Sundays?"

They want it to be inconvenient to reduce sales on Sundays but not so inconvenient people use a bootlegger instead. When that was the law here off sales were also volume limited.
posted by Mitheral at 8:42 AM on June 14, 2011


I just think the moonshiners of Mississippi and Alabama don't want competition from legal homebrew beer.

Close! In Alabama beer distribution licences are harder to come by than NYC taxi medallions. They go county-by-county, one per county, and savvy investors bought the exclusive rights back when Alabama was still a dry state and protect their investments like the money trees they are. These men are very powerful lobbiests. A single investor owns the rights to Tuscaloosa County (home to the University of Alabama) and Jefferson County (Birmingham) as well as many of the surrounding counties. You think that guy is going to let people cut into his monopoly without a fight?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:03 AM on June 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love the smell of hops in the morning.
posted by homunculus at 9:25 AM on June 14, 2011


I'd be willing to bet that the real objection had little to do with either morality or safety concerns and everything to do with money. Mississippi has one of the highest beer taxes in the country, so the legislature's not going to be well disposed to give what amounts to exemptions to that.

$0.42 per gallon is insane (not nearly as bad as Alaska at $1.07/gallon), but that still only works out to $42 if someone makes their entire 100 gallon allotment. Mississippi has a bit less than 3 million people, so if we make the absurd assumption that 1/3 of the entire population brews up 100 gallons instead of purchasing it, that's only $420K. This would be offset by the additional revenue the state would bring in from homebrew supply shops, sales tax collections on barley and hops and other ingredients, homebrew conventions, and all the other economic activity that goes along with a popular hobby. If the truly trifling amount of foregone revenue that would remain is really the concern here, the state could have an honor-system tax on homebrewing, but it would probably collect less than the cost of printing up the forms.

This is simply about the illusion of control and power.
posted by zachlipton at 9:59 AM on June 14, 2011


Those debate excerpts are hilarious. I mean, it's sad, that our politicians are so ignorant, but at least they're ignorant in an entertaining way. I almost feel sorry for Mac McCutcheon, which is a first for an (R), but he really sounds like he's tired of banging his head of a brick wall at 3:20.
posted by IanMorr at 11:22 AM on June 14, 2011


octothorpe: "In the entire state of Arkansas you cannot buy liquor on Sunday. Only beer and wine in a restaurant.

That's still mostly true in PA. There are a few random state stores open on Sundays but they're rare.
"

They also fairly recently began allowing beer distributors to be open Sundays, if they pay extra to the state.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:39 AM on June 14, 2011


$0.42 per gallon is insane (not nearly as bad as Alaska at $1.07/gallon), but that still only works out to $42 if someone makes their entire 100 gallon allotment.

It's twice the national median and almost twice the national average. It may not be much, but it's in the highest quintile.

And I wasn't trying to argue that the numbers made any kind of sense, only that there are numbers and that people point to them.
posted by valkyryn at 12:13 PM on June 14, 2011


So I was just going to come into this thread to defend Mississipi's craft brewers and say how good the Mississippi Mud Black and Tan beer I'm drinking is and then I read the back of the bottle where it says "Mississippi Brewing Company, Utica New York". So, nevermind.
posted by octothorpe at 7:59 PM on June 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Neat bottle, anyway.
posted by box at 8:21 PM on June 14, 2011




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