Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How much beer per year?

Recently, around the brewpot the Rocket Science homebrewers had a discussion about the legality of homebrewing in TN, where we live.

While we all knew homebrewing was legal in TN, we each remembered different parts of the law. Well none of us are lawyers here, but the AHA has a some online resources covering state and federal statutes.

According to the AHA site, in Tennessee it looks like the major restriction involves the transport of beer.

"Such wine or beer may also be transported by the person, member or guest without being in violation of this part; provided, that the amount being transported at any one (1) time shall not exceed five (5) gallons."

...While the quantity of beer or wine you can brew is defined by the federal law, which says your household can brew 200 gallons per year if there are two adults living there or 100 gallons if there is only one.

"(b) The production of beer per household, without payment of tax, for personal or family use 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."
(Full text of federal law can be found here.)

Well then, 200 gallons per year per household is a good bit of homebrewing; I think we can all live with that (and our livers probably couldn't live with much more!)

On the other hand, the Tennessee law does put a cramp in the hobby of a homebrewer. Why? Well, 5 gallons is the most common batch size for homebrewers (true, at RSB we tend to think a little bigger). And 5 gallons of beer in bottles is usually around 50 bottles (sometimes minus a little bit for the mess you make filling them), which sounds like a lot of beer. But for those of us who brew regularly, a 5 gallon corny keg is the easiest way to transport our brew. And it's not uncommon to gift a batch to a friend or loved one for a wedding reception or other special event, or trade what you've made to a fellow brewer. If you've got more than a few guests coming to that wedding or more than a batch to share then, in TN you'd better pack it into multiple cars or take more than one trip to stay within the law.

And that boils me over.

Note: the contents of this article are not legal advice and should not be construed as such.

1 comment:

  1. I recently learned that transporting a corny keg in the main area of a car is technically illegal in California because it's considered an open container. Apparently, the law here is that the container has to be fully sealed and none of its contents can have been removed. Fortunately, I didn't learn this the hard way (and I kind of doubt that any police officers would be that familiar with the law).