The Legality of Home Brewing

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The price of alcoholic beverages like beer and wine has inspired many to brew their own products. Brewing kits, bottling supplies, instructions and recipes are available for any do-it-yourselfer to start the hobby. However, state and federal standards apply and vary from state to state. The federal standards include a limitation of 100 gallons brewed per year by one adult. Two adult residents in a home are allowed to brew up to 200 gallons annually. Persons must be at least 21 years of age; the beverage cannot be sold and must be consumed on the premises. The federal government allows states to individually regulate brewing practices.

According to state and federal regulation, “beer is defined as any alcoholic beverage obtained by the fermentation, infusion or decoction of barley, malt, hops, or similar product this includes ale, porter, brown, stout, lager beer, small beer, and strong beer. This does not include sake, wine or coolers.”

Many states allow home brewing without license, tax, fees or stated regulation except what the federal government mandates. These states include:

Alaska Iowa Montana Rhode Island
Arizona Kansas Nebraska South Dakota
Arkansas Kentucky New Hampshire Tennessee
California Maryland North Carolina Vermont
Colorado Massachusetts North Dakota Virginia
Florida Minnesota Oklahoma Washington
Illinois Mississippi Oregon Washington D.C.
Indiana Missouri Pennsylvania Wisconsin

Other states have more individualized statutes:

Alabama strictly prohibits home brewing and enforces tight control on manufacturing practices.

Connecticut allows home brewing but limit’s the amount 2 adults can produce to 100 gallons annually and one adult is restricted to brewing 50 gallons a year.

Delaware allows home brewing but stipulates that not more than 200 gallons be produced within a year.

Georgia allows home brewing but restricts the product to no more than 50 gallons per year.

Hawaii allows residents to brew up to 100 gallons of beer a year.

Idaho permits home brewing but only if native products are used in the brewing process.

Louisiana will allow home brewing after an annual permit is acquired.

Maine has no clear-cut legislation pertaining to home brewing.

Michigan residents are restricted to making 20 gallons of beer a year.

Nevada has no legislation regarding home brewing.

New Jersey residents must acquire an annual permit but are allowed to brew up to 200 gallons of beer a year.

New Mexico has no legislation regarding the home brewing of beer.

New York has no legislation regarding the brewing of beer for home use.

Ohio has regulations regarding wine making but not for brewing beer.

South Carolina permits home beer brewing but the alcohol content cannot exceed 5% by volume.

Texas allows residents to brew 200 gallons per year.

West Virginia legislation is unclear concerning home beer brewing but individuals may be able to do so if the alcoholic content is below 6% by volume.

In addition to these regulations, states have specific laws regarding if, when and what quantity of beer may be transported to other locations and for what purpose.

Countries around the world have varying legal statutes when it comes to home brewing beer. In Poland and South Africa, residents are allowed to brew an unlimited amount of beverage as long as it is fermented. Sweden, Finland and the United Kingdom permit home brewing as long as the beverage is intended for home use. German residents are allowed to brew up to 200 liters of beer a year. Canada permits home brewing but statutes in individual provinces vary. Australia and New Zealand allow home brewing practices as long as a still is not used. China permits brewing but has specific limitations. Japan permits brewing but the beer cannot exceed 1% alcohol by volume or persons stand the chance of prosecution.

The practice of home brewing has gone on for approximately 7000 years and started in the Middle East and China. Early Egyptians passed their knowledge to the Greeks who then passed the practice down to the Romans. Scientists who studied microbiology like Louis Pasteur, gained knowledge of yeasts thereby enabling brewers to develop various species to produce different types of beer.

Kits are more cost effective than buying the equipment and ingredients separately. Brewing kits include the brewing containers, lids, thermometer, hydrometer, airlocks, brushes, sanitizers, capping devices, liquid or dry malt extract, grains, yeast and hop extracts. It is possible to brew up to five gallons of beer with the starter kits.

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