Should Alabama Legalize Homebrewing?


By Ashley Thompson

Producing homemade beer and wine is outlawed in Alabama but that could change very soon.  A proposed bill could make homebrewing legal.

Alabama and Mississippi are the only two states in the country that have yet to legalize homebrewing and some people here think it's time for that to change.

Lee Harrison owns a store in Cloverdale that sells equipment for beer and wine making. He says he opened the store because he's optimistic that Alabama will soon legalize homebrewing. Harrison says although the hobby is illegal, some people in Alabama still take part in it.

"There are homebrew clubs in Montgomery that have regular meetings and tasting events and it's something that's been in this state for a long time," he says.

A bill will be proposed in the upcoming legislative session and if passed, it would do away with what some call a form of prohibition. But not everyone is on board with trying to legalize it. 

"There are a lot of people who think that homebrewing is dangerous because kids will get involved in it," says Harrison.

And sergeant Wayne Mackey of the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board says underage drinking and homebrewing abuse is a definite possibility.

"With homebrewing, you lose a certain aspect of control," says Mackey. "Then you end up with a situation where you have several under-aged individuals that are all living in a house and they're all brewing this beer at home."

If the bill does pass, Mackey says the ABC board will be watchful of those engaging in the craft.

"We will take measures obviously to continue doing our mission to provide that service to the public. One aspect is to enforce under-aged drinking laws," he says.

Still, others say the perception of those who brew their own alcohol needs to change.

"The home-brewers aren't moon shiners," says Bob Parker of the Railway Brewing Compnay. "These aren't guys and girls in the backwoods that are creating beer to dodge and tax revenue guys. I don't think brewing beer at you're house is going to hurt the distributors, the brewers, or people like us- we brew beer here."

There still are some restrictions to homebrewing in the proposed bill. For example, only beer and wine can be homemade. Making Vodka, Bourbon, Whiskey or any stronger alcohol is prohibited.

A similar bill was passed through the House last year, but did not get through the Senate.