Good news for home brewers in Missouri and Illinois. Both state legislatures recently passed laws enabling home brewers to transport their wares, explicitly expanding the “personal or family use” clause beyond the interpretation as “consumption.”
Once they’re signed by the governors, which is expected to happen for both bills, home brewers will be able to share their beer with friends, family, and neighbors outside of their homes, enter homebrew competitions, bring their beer for feedback from homebrew clubs, and pour their beer at festivals. That’s right. POUR THEIR BEER AT FESTIVALS. Nice.
There is no doubt that these bills are beneficial to the home brewing community, but I have two concerns about them.
First, the argument could be made that transporting homebrew wasn’t actually illegal in either state before the law was passed. These bills weren’t necessary until recently, when the state governments of Missouri and Illinois suddenly began interpreting the words “personal or family use” in a very strict sense, meaning “personal or family CONSUMPTION.” This very limiting interpretation of the law was a twisting of the language of the law, which mimics federal law exactly. The federal law has never been interpreted to limit transportation or use, so why should the state law do so? These bills simply correct that interpretation. Why our state government suddenly decided this was a problem I’ll never understand, but it is good that the legislatures took decisive action to fix this. I’d hate to think that “Personal or family use” actually meant “consumption.” That would mean it was technically illegal to bathe in your beer, water your garden with it, or to even wash your car with it (not recommended).
Second, these bills deliberately limit their verbiage to beer brewers and do not include wine or meadmakers. This is not an oversight. It was done deliberately, as the folks creating the bill felt there was no reason to include them. See my post on this law here. Senate Bill 121 is actually very close to the Senate Bill 114 I wrote about in that post. I’ve since changed my view on the law slightly, as I do believe it is a positive thing to explicitly state our rights without question, but I am still disappointed that they did nothing to offer the same liberties to wine and meadmakers. They’re home brewers, too.
I’m glad to know that we, as the Homebrew ZOO, will be able to participate in festivals in the area to aid not-for-profits and share our beer with folks at beer festivals and at homebrew rallies. It will do a lot to expand the interest in our hobby and hopefully bring a lot more people into our little world of geekdom.
To read the full press release, click here.
Homebrew ZOO President