Is Homebrewing legal?
Most of don’t even consider the legality of brewing beer, but every state has rules, regulations, licensing or all three when it comes to home brewing. Some states brewing beer is illegal, but most just have regulations. Being a resident of New Jersey, I’ll focus on Jersey, but there are states that it is illegal, yes against the law to brew beer… Alabama (Source: Wikipedia)
Lucky I don’t live there.
But still it isn’t an open market for home brewers; there are still regulations. In 1979 President Carter signed a bill that explicitly allowed home beer and wine making. It allowed for an adult to brew 100 gallons per year or 200 gallons if there was another adult in the household. (Thanks Jimmy!!!). However states still have the right to change, modify, or revoke, such as Bama.
In New Jersey, Homebrewing is legal, but technically requires a permit. (Home Manufacture of Malt Alcoholic Beverage) New Jersey allows for the brewing of up to 200 gallons per year, but you are not allowed to sell or distribute what you make. This whole process is controlled by the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).
For the most part these permits are just ways for our local government to nickel and dime us. My guess is most people don’t even know that a permit is required, yet continue making home brews.
I Figure since I wrote about needing a permit in Jersey to brew beer, I should get one. Well, I paid my $15 dollars and got this nice official letter on New Jersey letter stating I could not exceed 200 gallons per calendar year and it was for personal/household consumption. That was all pretty standard stuff, right? But, what got me was this sentence:
“The permittee herby confers upon the directory of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control and his investigators, authority to inspect and search, without warrant, at any time, the premises mentioned above.”
So now that I have this “required permit” it gives the the Div of ABC the right to search my house at time without a warrant!!! I’m not breaking any laws or regulations irrespective of Homebrewing, but I value my privacy. I’m an honest person, family guy, and pay my taxes on time, I think it is disrespectful that as a licensed homebrewer that I’m subject to this. Granted I realize this is for the most part legal jargon and the Div of ABC would not have any reason to come after me, but no where on the application or in the handbook of the Div of ABC does it state this condition.