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AHA Talking Points on Legalizing Homebrewing

 

Homebrewing Has Long Been an American Tradition

  • Beer had been brewed in people’s homes since the dawn of agriculture several thousand years ago.
  • In colonial times, homebrewing was a common household practice, typically performed by women.
  • Many of the Nation’s founders, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were homebrewers.

Legalization

  • Homebrewing was Federally legalized in 1978 for the first time since prohibition made it illegal in 1919.
  • Homebrewing is currently legal in 48 states.
  • Oklahoma is the last state to have legalized homebrewing, having passed legislation to legalize homebrewing in 2010.
  • The remaining states where homebrewing is not yet legal include: Alabama and Mississippi.

How Many Homebrewers Are There in the United States?

  • It is difficult to determine, but the AHA estimates that nearly one million Americans brew beer at home at least once a year.
  • There are currently over 30,000 members of the American Homebrewers Association.

Homebrew is Safe

  • There are no known pathogens that can survive in beer.
  • The brewing process is safe. Unlike distilling, homebrewing does not involve the production of flammable liquids and does not involve high pressures.

Who are Homebrewers? Based surveys of AHA members, American homebrewers come from a diverse array of backgrounds, however, there are some common traits:

  • A majority of homebrewers have technical or professional occupations.
  • They are well educated, with the vast majority having college degrees.
  • Most homebrewers fall into the middle to upper-middle class income range.
  • The majority of homebrewers are married.

Why do Americans Homebrew?

  • The number one reason for brewing among AHA members is that they like the creative/artistic aspects of homebrewing. Creating a well crafted beer at home is much like cooking a gourmet meal at home.
  • The number two reason for brewing among AHA members is that they like the scientific aspects of brewing. The process of brewing beer involves biochemistry and thermodynamics. Many brewers also build some of their own equipment, which can involve metallurgy, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering.

Homebrewers are Responsible Consumers of Alcohol

  • For homebrewers, who have a deep knowledge of the ingredients of beer and the brewing and fermentation process, the primary reason for consuming beer is to enjoy the diverse array of flavors and aromas that can be found in beer – they approach beer much like wine connoisseurs approach fine wine.
  • Homebrewers are very well aware of the effects of alcohol and their personal limits. As a result are more responsible than most other consumers of alcohol.
  • Homebrewers serve as examples to others for how to consume alcohol in a responsible manner.
  • Homebrewers are the leading supporters of local small commercial craft breweries, which contribute jobs and tax dollars to their communities and which typically support charitable causes in their communities.

Legalizing Homebrewing Will Not Contribute to an Increase in Underage Drinking

  • There are other forms of alcohol currently available (e.g. sub-premium beer, malt liquor, fortified wine, sub-premium spirits) that are cheaper and much more easily attainable for minors.
  • Homebrewing requires a fairly substantial initial investment in equipment ($80-$120) that minors would be unlikely to want or be able to spend.
  • The equipment is bulky and cannot be easily hidden.
  • A single batch of beer takes a minimum of three weeks to produce, most take longer.
  • Every batch of beer will take several hours of work to produce.

Legalizing Homebrewing Will Not Have a Negative Impact on Tax Revenue

  • The vast majority of homebrewers do not brew frequently enough to substantially cut back on their purchases of commercially produced beer.
  • Homebrewers have a close affinity with professional brewers, and so are the leading advocates for supporting small local breweries. In doing so, they help to contribute to the state by purchasing locally produced beer, supporting local small businesses, which in turn employ local residents.
  • Homebrewers are inclined to encourage their friends and family members who consume alcohol to likewise support local breweries.
  • Homebrewers purchase ingredients from locally owned businesses, which also contribute to local tax revenue and employ local workers.

Homebrewing Serves as Training For Future Professional Brewers and Brewery Owners

  • The American Homebrewers Association estimates that at least 90% of professional brewers got started in brewing as homebrewers.
  • Most professional brewers work for small businesses.
  • Many, if not most, up-start breweries are founded by homebrewers (the top three craft breweries in the United States, Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and New Belgium Brewing Co. were all founded by homebrewers)
  • Thus homebrewing serves as training for many future owners and skilled employees of small businesses.

Why Allow Homebrew to be Used for Organized Events?

  • The majority of homebrewers in the U.S. enter competitions.
  • There are nearly 400 homebrew competitions held in the U.S. each year.
  • Homebrew competitions are judged by certified beer judges.
  • Judging provides feedback to homebrewers, which will help them improve their brewing skills.
  • Judges go through a rigorous exam process to become certified beer judges (see www.bjcp.org for information on beer judge certification).
  • Judging involves tasting very small samples (generally 1-2 oz per entry) of the beers entered.
 *Talking points from the American Homebrewers Association.