Friday, July 2, 2010

About Home Brewing Competitions

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.

11 comments:

  1. ORS 471.403 doesn't say that home brew must be consumed exclusively in the home-- it says that the act doesn't apply to beer and wine for home use, e.g., not for sale. Moreover, the idea that the act does not apply to home brew for "home use" but does positively require all home brew to be consumed "in the home" is contradictory.

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  2. 22 years of State Fair competition and you decide to look at the law now? Wasn't a precedent set by the lack of enforcement? Why can't this reinterpretation be delayed until the State legislature is back in session? Shouldn't the business that our fairs and competitions bring to the Oregon economy be taken into consideration?
    This is a ridiculous slap in the face to the spirit that spawned the two great industries of Wine and Beer in Oregon.

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  3. I also notice that no mention is made of mead, aka honeywine. Perhaps this could be included in the new law.

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  4. I'm not "disapointed" - I am extremely angry that you've chosen this interpretation, in concert with the DOJ. Hoping to change the laws in time for next year is just ridiculous. So now I can be arrested for taking my homebrew to my neighbor's party? Absolutely ridiculous.

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  5. "We know how important the home brew and wine competitions are for artisans and professional hopefuls."
    As well as home brew businesses, professional brewers (yes, they do small competitions, too), and lovers of beer. So is it now illegal for me to enjoy my home brew in my backyard? In the park with a permit? While camping?

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  6. I think it's time that the OLCC is dismantled. It is obviously completely out of touch with the people of this state. What form of devastation does the OLCC imagine is going to occur if the State Fair holds a beer competition or Joe Brewer walks down the street to share his latest Stout with his neighbor?

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  7. The actions OLCC and Oregon Dept of Justice have taken on the "Home Brew" question do not cover either organization with glory. There was much room for interpretation (and by the way...just who or what organization asked for this review? who would even ask such a question?) and OLCC and Dept of Justice landed on precisely the most onerous and ridiculous one available. Is no one at OLCC and Justice concerned about how this reflects on either organization, much less negatively and needlessly burdens the good citizens of the state of Oregon? A triumph of the small minded Petit-beaurocracy craft. Why oh why could not an adult at either agency simply decide to table this issue and at the same time put a bug in a few members legislatures' ear to update the law in January, instead of making the finding at the beginning of the height of the home brew season. At this point, every single member OLCC and the legal interpreters at Justice involved in this fiasco ought to be granted a graceful but quick leave from their roles in assisting Oregon's citizens on the taxpayer's dime. Good Riddance.

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  8. The good news is that this sort of unreasonable enforcement will only motivate the people of this state to reexamine the cost and usefulness of the OLCC.

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  9. I think it's safe for us home brewers to ignore the OLCC statement. I doubt they will attempt to enforce it. Imagine the bad press if they raided a home brew event! They had to respond because they were asked about it. It was stupid to ask and the response is just automatic wheels of justice. So just relax, and have a nice cold home brew with your friends.

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  10. Stupid law...yes. Questionable interpretation of stupid law...possibly.

    But be careful what you wish for (dismantling of OLCC) if OLCC is gone, who then will enforce Oregon's liquor laws? Some would have it fall to OSP (Oregon State Police). OLCC stated that they are working to change this admittedly stupid law. Under the OLCC home brewing, micro breweries, wineries, and a new craft distilling industry have all flourished. How did that happen if OLCC is so “out of touch”? OLCC worked with the pioneers of these industries (McMenamins, Widmers, Steven McCarthy eg.) to bring about the current environment in which these businesses have succeeded. OLCC doesn’t get to pick and chose which laws it has to enforce, however I do not agree with their and DOJ’s interpretation of this law.

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  11. What is remarkable to me is the total lack of personal responsibility here. Who will step forward and take ownership of this ridiculous decision. As always in politics, it's all mysteriously done by organizations and "officials" so no one has to be personally accountable for their actions. Collectivistic, cowardly, BS.

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