If you’re a homebrewer in Wisconsin, be careful not to leave the house with your beer. When they call it home brew, they really mean it. Apparently there’s a growing strict interpretation of the state’s laws regarding homebrewing — similar to what went down in Oregon recently — that could prevent homebrewers from taking their beer to competitions and homewbrew club meetings, or indeed just sharing it with friends. I first heard about it from Jason Heindel, the President of the Beer Barons of Milwaukee Cooperative, a local beer enthusiast and homebrew club. He’s written up a nice overview of what’s going on, which you can read below, modified slightly by me for the web:
“As some of you may be aware, there have been some developments in the past year with how the WI Department of Revenue interprets the current State Statues relative to homebrewing. The current statutes can be found here. If you take a strict interpretation of those statues, the only place one can make or enjoy your own home brewed beer is at your home or farm. This means you could not legally brew a beer and hand it over your fence to your neighbor. The Wisconsin statues are outdated and not conforming with the overall Federal statutes regarding homebrewing. One of the highlights of the Federal Statute is the following section:
§ 25.206 Removal of beer.
Beer made under §25.205 may be removed from the premises where made for personal or family use including use at organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions such as homemaker’s contests, tastings or judging. Beer removed under this section may not be sold or offered for sale.
All of those activities are not allowed by Wisconsin statute. So the State Fair beer and wine competitions would not be allowed, tastings and homebrew club meetings would also not be allowed.
A group was formed earlier this year to address these problems. The AHA formed the Wisconsin Homebrewer’s Alliance. The group was comprised of a member from as many homebrew clubs as we could find contacts for, homebrew shop owners, etc. This group has worked to introduce legislation to the Wisconsin Senate to correct these deficiencies. We have been asked to voice our support to our State Senators and Assembly members in support of this legislation. Take a look at the proposed legislation.
Now is the time for all Wisconsin Homebrewer’s to take action and ask for your representative’s to support this bill. Below is an except from an email to the Wisconsin Homebrewer’s Alliance from 1/5/2012:
‘Sen. Ellis’s office and a “Dear Colleague’ letter is going out within minutes asking for co-sponsorship of our legislation. The co-sponsorship period is for 2 weeks starting from today. So, now is the time for all of our memberss to contact their respective Clubs to get them to contact both of their legislators. The most sponsors that we can get the better. The legislation is LRB 3101 The Ellis/Kaufert legislation. We can also contact breweries, distributors, homebrew shops, etc.
Dan Grady, who’s spearheading the legislation, did give Heindel some words of warning. ‘Time is running short. The January floor period is taken up already leaving only February and March. The legislature is going to shut ASAP due to the recalls.’”
Wow, that’s not good. If you live in Wisconsin and want to see homebrewing continue to flourish, find your local legislators and contact them immediately.