Local

Beer Bill Would Give Homebrewers More Freedom

KPLU | March 2, 2009 12:25 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:12 a.m. | Olympia, WA

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By Ryan Morden

Home beer makers are hoping to one day host the National Homebrewers Conference in Washington state. But a dusty law on the books is prohibiting that from happening.

Correspondent Ryan Morden explains how beer enthusiasts are working to change the law.


Home beer makers have to consume what they brew on their own property. Taking home brew across the street to share with neighbors is illegal under current state law.

The tiny exception is one gallon may be taken to a competition where only judges can drink it.

Home brewers typically aren't aware of the law and move their beer freely like jaywalking. Mark Emiley with the Washington Homebrewers Association wants his members to be legit.

That way the National Homebrewers Conference can be held in Washington.

Mark Emiley: "The American Homebrewers Association came out and basically the show stopper for them was the laws. If you can't serve to people who aren't explicitly judges, the whole conference falls apart."

Democratic state Senator Ken Jacobson crafted a bill to allow homebrewers to take as many as twenty gallons of beer off their property for private non-commercial use. He says that change could lead to more microbreweries in Washington.

Ken Jacobsen: "Home brewing is sort of like the cradle and some of them bud into microbrewers. It's good to encourage them and then getting that feed back, they can develop their skills better and if they want to go full time, they have an idea of how to do it."

Jacobsen's bill has already won approval in committee and is waiting for a vote on the Senate floor. Until it becomes law, homebrewers will have sit tight and keep their beer at home. That amuses Bob Beattie, owner of Bob's Homebrew Supply in Seattle.

Bob Beattie: "I have a police officer who is a customer of mine and ask him if heís taken his beer to his buddy's house lately. Then I can do a citizens' arrest."

Home brew laws in Oregon are more laid back. As long as homebrewers don't sell their craft beverage, they are free to do what they want with it.

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