Friday, July 23, 2010

Changing statute is only true solution to homebrew issue

by Christie Scott

Earlier this spring, the OLCC was contacted by a licensee to see if they could include home brewers in an event on their licensed premises. At that time, the OLCC requested a Department of Justice legal opinion to see if there was any legal way to allow this under the current statute (ORS 471.403). The resulting legal interpretation was that under the current statute, home brewers lost their exemption to brew without a license once the product left the home.

Searching for solutions that would allow home brew and wine competitions to be held this summer, the OLCC asked DOJ to take a deeper look at this issue. After consulting DOJ general counsel, we have reached the unfortunate conclusion that no practical alternative exists to allow the home brew competitions legally within the framework of our existing statutes.

“We were really hoping that we could find a legal alternative for this summer’s events,” says Rudy Williams, OLCC Deputy Director of Public Safety Services. “We know that these contests serve as a springboard for professional hopefuls. That is why we are committed to providing our full support to the legislature to find a permanent fix for this issue in 2011.”

In order to provide tastings at public events, one must obtain the appropriate manufacturers license and the event must be held at an annually licensed location (per ORS.471.402). The OLCC recognizes that the process of obtaining the required licenses could be burdensome for home brewers and wine makers. For these reasons, the OLCC is cognizant that it is not a practical alternative for this season. In addition, under ORS 471.403(2) and (3), products can be made at a licensed location under their staff supervision. However, the beverages cannot be consumed at the licensed business. Neither of these statutes applies to products that were previously produced by home brewers or winemakers in their homes.

OLCC researched many options to allow the contests to continue this year. The OLCC recognized early on that the only true solution is a legislative fix that needs to come from changing the statute in the next legislative session. Although there doesn’t appear to be an easy remedy for this summer, OLCC is working with legislators to create a permanent solution for next year and years after.

Friday, July 2, 2010

About Home Brewing Competitions

by Joy Spencer

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission was recently asked whether certain public competitions involving home made alcohol products were in compliance with the law. We provided guidance to the State Fair and other licensees which stated that such competitions were not authorized because they did not fall within the requirements of this statute ORS 471.403 clearly states that the Liquor Control Act (including the requirement for a liquor license) applies except for beer "brewed in the home for home consumption and not for sale".

In consultation with the Department of Justice, we have received an initial analysis of the statute regulating home brewing (ORS 471.403) which also indicates that the law only allows for consumption of home brews in the home. The home brewers lose their exemption to craft brew without a license when the home brew is consumed outside of the home.

The Department of Justice’s guidance certainly requires us to look at the competitions in a different way than we have before. It’s completely understandable that home beer and wine makers would be disappointed. We know how important the home brew and wine competitions are for artisans and professional hopefuls. We expect a final analysis from the Department of Justice next week. Although we are hopeful that there may be some other way of interpreting this statute to allow these events to continue, we anticipate that the initial analysis will stand.

The OLCC is already working with Representative Mike Schaufler and Senator Floyd Prozanski to draft language for legislative consideration in the next session.

We ask that those people who are concerned with this issue help us gain support and cooperation from the legislature to get the law revised and in effect in time for next summer’s fair season.