Homebrewing is a great hobby that can also help you save money. Learn about the legality of homebrewing in your state and how to start brewing your own beer!
Have you ever considered making your own beer? After all, you may drink enough lager to make it worth your while financially. Or perhaps you are a craft beer connoisseur and want to throw your hat in the ring.
Either way, making your own beer at home is a fun hobby that makes a great gift to share with family and friends. However, many are confused about the legality around homebrewing. Let’s take a closer look at the laws to be sure to protect yourself.
Is homebrewing legal in the US?
All 50 states allow homebrewing, although there are some restrictions on the amount of beer that can be brewed at home. For example, in Alabama and Mississippi, you are limited to making six gallons per year.
While this is great news, it certainly wasn’t always this way. In fact, homebrewing was illegal until 1978, when Congress enacted Public Law 95-458 (H.R. 1337), amending the Internal Revenue Code to allow any adult to produce beer, without the payment of tax, for personal or family use. While this law came into effect in 1978, Alabama and Mississippi did not allow homebrew until 2013.
This law does not come without stipulations. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Each household may not exceed: (1) 200 gallons per calendar year if there are two or more adults residing in the household, or (2) 100 gallons per calendar year if there is only one adult residing in the household.
However, homeowners may have this privilege removed if it is found they are producing their beer for judging, competition or exhibition. In layman's terms, you can make beer, but you can’t show it off.
That being said, there are 29 states that allow their patrons to transport their homemade beer, mead, or wine to competitions and tastings.
These states are: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Check out the Homebrew Laws by State
Is it Illegal to Give Homebrew Away?
While homebrewing is legal in all 50 states, each state has been able to craft their own limitations around its production. With this in mind, there are many different levels of regulation and control over the production, consumption and transportation of homebrewed beverages.
Many conservative states have adopted strict regulations, some even restricting the ABV (alcohol by volume) you are able to legally produce. Other states restrict any transportation of the homebrew outside of the residence in which it was produced.
Under the law, it is stated that homebrew is allowed for those over the age of 21 who reside in the home. With this in mind, it would not allow for you to give your homebrew away as gifts or to serve to anyone under the age of majority.
Is Brewing Alcohol Illegal in the US?
Moonshine is a distilled alcoholic beverage that is typically made from corn mash. Moonshine has been around for many years, and it's said to have originated in Ireland where moonshiners would make the drink by distilling poteen, which was a type of whiskey made from potatoes.
Today, moonshine can be found throughout the United States, especially in rural areas where people are looking for an alternative to expensive alcohol products sold at liquor stores.
In the United States, moonshining is illegal under federal law because it's not taxed or regulated by the government like other types of alcohol products are. However, the state laws vary, so it is important to be informed of the laws in your home state.
How do I Legally Sell my Homebrew?
Unfortunately, the answer is you really can't. While you are allowed to make homebrew in all 50 states, it is for personal use only. In fact, many states place restrictions on the amount of beer you are able to make in order to avoid this situation altogether.
It is important to know the laws within your state as some have many more rules around the transportation of your homebrew and whether you are able to enter your homebrew into contests.
How Can I Legally Distill at Home?
It is illegal to produce moonshine without a license in all 50 states, so please be sure to check your state's laws before starting any moonshining operations!
When it comes to the laws of moonshine, there seem to be a lot of grey areas. For example, while federal law will always supersede state law, many states actually allow its residents to moonshine.
Getting ready to move? Those states include Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Rhode Island.
Is Moonshining Illegal?
In the United States owning a still of any size is legal. This is because stills can make much more than moonshine. With a moonshine still you can also make essential oils, perfume, fuel as well as distilled water.
What the government is really concerned about is not whether or not you own a still. It actually only really matters what you use your still for.
It is illegal to use your still to distill alcohol without first having what is called a ‘distilled spirits permit’ or a ‘federal fuel alcohol permit.’ It does not matter if the spirits you are making are only for personal use and not for sale.
These permits will help the government to understand what you plan on doing with your still. A ‘distilled spirits permit’ indicates that you plan on opening a commercial distillery and selling your products.
A federal fuel alcohol permit lets the government know that you plan on using your still to make ethanol. However, this permit indicates you are making ethanol to put in your lawnmower or small engine.
What is a Federal Distilled Spirits Permit?
A Federal Distilled Spirits Permit is basically the permit that you need in order to open your own distillery. This is the same permit all the big name liquor companies need to have in order to operate. As you can imagine, they are not easy to obtain.
The only reason you would actually apply for this permit is if you actually plan on opening a business selling your distilled spirits. Otherwise, this permit is not for you.
A better option may be to get a fuel alcohol permit. This option is both easier to get as well as free.
This permit tells the government that you are planning to make ethanol that you want to put into your lawnmower or small engine and not into your body.
However, it is important to remember that this permit will not protect you if it is found that you are distilling spirits for the purpose of consumption or distribution. The only way this permit will protect you is if you are making ethanol for the purpose of running your gas mower.
Do I Need a Permit to Use my Still?
If you are purchasing a still without the intention of making alcohol, you do not require a permit.
That is because it is completely legal to use your still to make perfumes, essential oils, and distilled water.
The only reason you would need to obtain a permit is if you are planning to use your still to make ethanol.
Fun fact: when you are making ethanol with a permit it is not really moonshine. This is because moonshine refers to the illicit nature of making spirits in secret. This is a nod to making and running spirits ‘by the light of the moon’ to avoid detection. This is the reason supermarket spirits are also not really moonshine. They may add that name to up their ‘cool factor’ but it is actually completely false.
Can I Brew Moonshine at Home?
Making moonshine at home is possible with our line of quality craft stills. Our still kits are designed to be user-friendly and produce great results.
Our Copperhead All-in-One Moonshine Still Kit is a great option for those who are looking to get great results from very little effort. The Copperhead is a great combination of stainless steel and copper. The stainless steel barrel and pots make the steel easy to clean and maintain and economical to buy.
The copper coils are ideal for making great tasting shine. The copper is able to neutralize the sulfur taste and smell in the mash to get great results every time.
Another great feature of the Copperhead is the fact that the Copperhead is both a still and a fermentor. That means less to buy and store.
What are the Moonshining Laws in my Area?
While it is essential to know what the laws are governing moonshine, it is also important to look at the laws in your area. Many states have specific laws around distillation. Unfortunately, Federal law will always trump them.
However, many states have laws that would theoretically make moonshining legal, if it wasn’t a federal offense.
It is important to know what is and isn’t legal in your area. In some states owning a still is legal but distillation will result in a small fine which is the case in Colorado. In Missouri, you can theoretically manufacture 100 gallons of liquor per year. Other states that theoretically allow moonshining are Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island.
STILL REGISTRATION AND REPORTING
The Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau regulations state that still manufacturers need to keep their customer’s information. This is required as the information could be requested by the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
Click here to read the actual federal laws on the subject of distillation.