June 6, 2011
Illegal: Homebrewing in Alabama
If you haven't seen it already, you have to watch this video that Northern Brewer and Brewing TV put together on the defeat of the Alabama homebrewing bill. It will change your mind on the state of homebrewing in the US.
Seen it? Ok, good.
Now, what is really revealing to me is how totally removed and ignorant these legislators are about homebrewing, the culture and the hobby. I'm not saying that these guys are dumb people or anything (well, most of them aren't), but they obviously have no idea what homebrewing entails. Comments like, "What is m-e-a-d mead?" and "Mead, whatever that is" are only the start. One congressman talks about how this bill will make the bootlegger in his district happy. First of all, how do you even have a bootlegger when purchasing alcohol is completely legal in 99% of the country? Even if you live in a dry county, the next county over probably has alcohol, and all anyone has to do is go over there and buy it, it's a lot easier than spending months making it yourself. And then he talks about how if this bill passes the bootlegger would probably brew beer and then have a party and invite his friends over. What the hell is wrong with that?
Homebrewing is not a get rich quick scheme, it takes a lot of time and care. Kids aren't going to start homebrewing en masse to get alcohol; they haven't in the other 48 states where homebrewing is legal. And all the congressmen talking about how making alcohol at home could be dangerous or isn't "healthy": you just have absolutely no idea how beer is made, do you? I mean, that's like saying that people shouldn't be allowed to cook meals at home, because they might make them poorly and get sick. The homebrew I make is a lot more "healthy" than drinking the rot-gut vodka or dirt cheap beer that you can buy in any liquor store.
If I had to guess I'd say that these lawmakers have absolutely no idea that homebrewing is a hobby. They've never met a homebrewer. They don't know about the competitions, they don't know about the many books written on the topic, they don't know that there are homebrewing shops all over the country (even a couple in Alabama!), they don't know that homebrewing is a passion shared by hundreds of thousands of people in the US. In summary: They have no idea what they are talking about. But they sure seem to enjoy acting like they do.
If you are feeling the rage, as I am now, you need to head over to Alabama Homebrewing's Right to Brew page and see how you can help, or consider joining the AHA if you haven't already. The state of Alabama has to stop treating homebrewers like criminals.