The Day Homebrewing Was Legalized

October 14 is important in homebrew history as the date homebrewing was officially legalized in the United States. Still, some states have laws on the books that restrict what brewers can do.

October 14 is the anniversary of the day that homebrewing beer without federal taxation was made possible in the United States, thanks to President Jimmy Carter, in 1978. The law officially became effective in 1979. Homebrewing had been banned when Prohibition began in 1920, but—shockingly—homebrewing surged past its pre-Prohibition popularity. The ingredients were easy to come by, and it wasn’t as dangerous to produce as liquor. However, many states, counties, and even cities have passed their own laws.

The beer industry is full of brewers who got their start in a basement or garage, experimenting with extract kits, all-grain systems, and other cool gadgets. Homebrewers are vital to the craft-beer industry, but many found that they were unable to participate in their pastime (or at least had to brew on the DL) because of legal obstacles. With the huge surge in homebrewers over the past decade or so, however, many laws that were outdated (and some that were pretty absurd) were called to task and changed to fit our current culture.

But some states still have some pretty prohibitive laws concerning homebrewers. While laws in some states are actively enforced and prosecuted, many times they’re overlooked (which probably depends a lot on how much of a problem they become in the community, complaints by other citizens, and other factors). One issue lawmakers say gets in the way of changing laws is that there are just so many people wanting to get new laws on the books, and they have to prioritize—homebrewers getting to brew might not be at the top of that list of laws to change, but they’re also not at the top of the list of laws to enforce, either.

In honor of this important date in history, we wanted to revisit some of the more…interesting laws that have plagued (er, been on the books for) homebrewers and craft-beer lovers, past and present.

I’m sure you’ve heard of some interesting laws, too! We’d love to hear them.

From ingredients to equipment, process, and recipes—extract, partial-mash, and all-grain—The Illustrated Guide to Homebrewing is a vital resource for those new to homebrewing or those who simply want to brew better beer. Order your copy today.

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