Warm Southern Breeze

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Alabama State House Committee OKs Home Brew Bill

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Little by little, in some regard, Alabama is moving into the 21st century.

House committee approves bill that would legalize home brewing of beer

By Mike Cason | mcason@al.com
February 20, 2013 at 5:35 PM

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee today approved a bill that would allow those 21 and older to make home brewed beer, wine, mead and cider for personal use.

Rep. Mac McCutcheon, R-Huntsville. (Robin Conn/The Huntsville Times)

Rep. Mac McCutcheon, R-Huntsville. (Robin Conn/The Huntsville Times

The bill, by Rep. Mac McCutcheon, R-Huntsville, would limit the total production to 15 gallons every three months.

The committee approved the bill after a public hearing, putting it in position for consideration by the House of Representatives.

Several home brewing enthusiasts spoke in favor of the bill.

Jason Sledd of Huntsville told the committee he took up home brewing as a hobby last year.

“At the time, I had no idea what I was doing was illegal in the state of Alabama,” Sledd said.

Sledd said he learned home brewing was illegal after joining a home brewers club.

Rep. Berry Forte, D-Eufaula, said he was opposed to the use of alcohol because of what it had done to some family members. He asked Sledd whether he brewed beer in front of his children.

Sledd said he did, and said he was teaching them the responsible way to use alcohol.

“They will have years of experience of seeing an adult drink alcohol and not being intoxicated,” Sledd said.

Joe Godfrey, executive director of ALCAP, a nonprofit lobbying organization backed by churches, and Dan Ireland, executive director emeritus of ALCAP, spoke in opposition to the bill.

Godfrey said ALCAP opposed all efforts to liberalize alcohol policies. He said Alabama ranks low among states in alcohol sales and alcohol consumption.

“I think that’s a good thing to brag on, the fact that we consume low amounts here in Alabama,” Godfrey said. “We don’t want to be like everybody else.”

Ireland quoted scripture from the Book of Romans that counsels “not to put a stumbling block” in the way of others.

“You’re going to be setting a tone, not only in your home, but in your area, that’s going to entice others to drink,” Ireland said.

McCutcheon, the bill’s sponsor, said he understood the negative effects of alcohol abuse, but said that home brewing is not about promoting intoxication. He noted the biblical account of Jesus turning water into wine.

Drunkenness is a sin,” McCutcheon said. “Drunkenness is a result not of alcohol, but of the abuse of alcohol.”

He said those who abuse alcohol can already do so with commercial beers.

“This is not the issue here,” McCutcheon said. “This is about the rights of an individual to have the freedom to have a hobby that they enjoy.”

Joe Defee told the committee he has had a successful career in the computer science field and began home brewing when he worked in Washington, D.C. He said the appeal of home brewing for him was similar to the appeal of his other hobby, making acoustic guitars and mandolins. He said he wanted to master the craft.

“I’m really doing this hobby because I’m striving to create a product,” Defee said.

The bill would not legalize home brewing in dry counties and cities. Those convicted of a felony would be banned from home brewing.


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