Home brewing beer is a great hobby. Anyone with about $100 to invest can start with basic equipment and little knowledge and produce a good batch of beer. For those inclined to do so, the hobby can take on limitless levels of creativity and precision. There is an art to home brewing, in determining the perfect ingredients to make just the beer you want to produce. Did you enjoy that black IPA you drank at the bar last night, but wish it had a nuttier tasting malt character? Well you can make that come true! There is also a science. From the effects of temperature at different stages of brewing, to the quality and characteristics of the water used, there are many factors that can affect the results of identical sets of ingredients. As a home brewer, one can learn a lot, express creativity and have a lot of fun. The Bucket Brewery would not exist if we didn’t have years of home brewing experience behind us.
With all of that in mind, I extend my congratulations to the home brewing enthusiasts in Alabama who are close to gaining the ability to make their own beer legally! Even though home brewing has been legal at a federal level for decades and is legal in almost every state, Alabama has still not legalized it. On Thursday, though, their state house of representatives passed a bill that will finally make home brewing legal. It’s not a great law. It places a strict limit of 15 gallons per quarter on the amount produced, or one batch per month on average. It is better than it could be though, with proposals offered that would make the minimum age to brew 60 years old, as well as imposing other restrictions.
Much of the opposition and restriction was the result of fear mongering on the part of politicians with prohibitionist ideals. They painted mental pictures of mass production of beer (60 million gallons per year?), tied it to the production of distilled alcohol, and introduced a slippery slope argument implying that it would lead to the eventual legalization of drugs. Despite this strong opposition, they got a bill passed! Society there will no doubt now descend into Saturday afternoons spent with friends around pots of boiling wort in back yards across the state. The horror!
So, congrats again to the home brewers in Alabama. Here’s hoping that you all have as much fun as I do making beer, and that you learn and hone the craft to create a style all your own.