It may be remembered as the most influential of Jimmy Carter’s actions as President. Seriously. The 55 MPH national speed limit is history, rendering that lame Sammy Hagar song meaningless. The metric system did nothing but confuse Americans with all those annoyingly round numbers. But when President Jimmy Carter legalized homebrewing in 1979, it changed the world.
I’m not joking. There were people all over the country brewing beer as outlaws, but as soon as it became legal to buy and sell homebrew supplies without disguising them as wine-making supplies, many more people started to homebrew. Clubs formed. Homebrew supply shops opened. The snowball began to roll down the hill. History has taught us that homebrewing begets craft brewing: most professional craft brewers start out as home brewers. It’s not surprising that the craft beer revolution started in the early 1980s, shortly after homebrewing became legal.
Back in March we told you that Mississippi was finally poised to legalize homebrewing, leaving Alabama as the last state to prohibit the popular hobby. Today we learn that Alabama is on the precipice of legalizing homebrewing. I’ve included the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) press release below.
When Jimmy Carter signed that bill into law, he probably didn’t imagine it would take this long for all 50 states to get on board.
- History in the making: This will be the first time since pre-Prohibition days that all 50 states will legally allow homebrewing.
- Rapid-fire succession: Mississippi was the 49th state to legalize homebrewing, and the state did so in March, only two months prior to Alabama.
- Alabama might not be last: Alabama has an opportunity to legalize homebrewing before Mississippi, since the Mississippi bill has a 90-day wait period to become effective, while the Alabama bill would go into effect immediately once Governor Robert Bentley signs it.
Here’s the press release from the AHA.
Alabama Senate Passes Bill to Legalize Homebrewing
Boulder, CO • May 8, 2013 – The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) is pleased to announce the Alabama legislature has passed a bill that, once signed by Governor Robert J. Bentley, will effectively legalize homebrewing throughout the state. Alabama will be the last state in the nation to legalize homebrewing.
“Homebrewing has been an integral part of the history of America, so it’s thrilling to know that soon all 50 states will support this growing hobby and long-standing tradition,” said Gary Glass, director, American Homebrewers Association. “We appreciate the backing of all of the homebrewers, the dedicated grassroots efforts of Right to Brew and the legislators who have worked so diligently to make homebrewing a reality in Alabama. We are especially grateful to Representative Mac McCutcheon who introduced this bill and has fought long and hard for its passage, along with Senator Bill Holtzclaw.”
Alabama is the last state holding out against legalizing homebrewing. In March 2013, Mississippi became the 49th state to pass homebrew legislation. The AHA has been working with Right to Brew for five years in order to get the Alabama bill passed.
Homebrewing became federally legal in 1979, though the 21st Amendment predominantly leaves regulation of alcohol to the states. Therefore, even though homebrewing is federally legal, it is up to individual states to legalize homebrewing in state codes. Once the Alabama bill is signed by Gov. Bentley, it will be the first time since pre-Prohibition days that homebrewers in all the states can legally brew at home.
The hobby of homebrewing has seen exponential growth in recent years. The AHA estimates that more than one million Americans brew beer or make wine at home at least once a year. Alabama is home to an estimated 5,000 homebrewers who will soon enjoy brewing without the restrictions of a state-wide ban.
About the American Homebrewers Association:
The American Homebrewers Association has worked on behalf of the homebrewing community since 1978 and celebrates a membership of more than 37,000 homebrewers. The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) organizes events including the National Homebrewers Conference and National Homebrew Competition. The AHA also publishes Zymurgy magazine. The AHA is part of the Brewers Association, whose Brewers Publications division is the largest publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers and homebrewers.