A quick scan of Wikipedia’s page on presidential ranking shows that Jimmy Carter has almost always been one of America’s least regarded presidents. However, politics aside, all homebrewers should have a soft spot in their heart for the 39th president, because without him, our noble hobby might not exist.
After prohibition ended in 1933 there were still federal laws on the books prohibiting the production of beer (though home winemaking was made legal, go figure). Homebrewing remained an underground craft, and while it never disappeared, most people didn’t figure it worth federal attention just to make their own suds.
This law was the status quo for more than 40 years, but by the late sixties the homebrew movement had started to grow and in 1974 America’s most famous homebrew club, the Maltose Falcons was born. Homebrew was now too big to ignore, and the government was left with the choice of either cracking down on the violators, or just throwing up their hands, legalizing the whole mess and moving on with their lives.
Luckily for everyone, in 1978 Alan Cranston amended an otherwise less-than-noteworthy bill to legalize the home production of beer. Signed by Jimmy Carter without complaint, the bill went into effect in 1979 and the homebrew movement was legitimized. Federal restrictions were lifted, and states were free to legalize the craft.
But not all is well in the state of homebrewing. Well, specifically not all is well in two states of homebrewing; Mississippi and Alabama. After Oklahoma finally legalized homebrewing just three years ago, Mississippi and Alabama are the last two holdouts, keeping our southern friends from enjoying the fruits of their beer-making labor.
Both states have had attempts made recently to legalize homebrew, but so far nothing has passed. This could change any day now as groups like Right to Brew and the Super 6 PAC work to campaign for brewing rights.
For now, everyone spill a little for your friends down south, and then raise a glass to Jimmy Carter and Alan Cranston, the men who legalized homebrew.