Just this past February I mentioned that homebrew was still illegal in Mississippi and Alabama. Well I may have spoken too soon as Mississippi at long last has legalized homebrewing. Mississippi governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2183 into law March 19, and the bill will take effect July 1st of this year. Local homebrewers have been rewarded somewhat for their patience with a fairly generous law; individuals will be able to brew up to 100 gallons each year, though entire households cannot exceed 200 gallons. Mississippi joins forty-eight other states in legalizing homebrew, leaving Alabama the odd man out as the last state still in the pre-homebrew era.
Historically, Alabama has been staunchly opposed to homebrew. Local homebrewers and homebrew suppliers have suffered from raids and confiscation, along with fines and threatened jail-time. An underground brewing movement exists in the state, and enthusiasts are tired of hiding and have been making their complaints heard loud and clear. State politicians may have actually been listening because already this session both houses of the Alabama legislature have drafted homebrew legalization bills, marking the third year in a row that law-makers have tried to legalize homebrew
Alabama still has active temperance associations and 25 dry counties, so there is considerable opposition to any type of pro-alcohol legislation. Religious organizations like the Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP) have made considerable noise of their own and have successfully spearheaded the defeat of multiple previous homebrew bills. Cracks are showing however, in the anti-brewing lobby facade; last year Alabama passed the Gourmet Bottle Bill despite the objections of ALCAP. The Gourmet Bottle Bill legalized large-format “bomber” bottles which had previously been prohibited to be sold in the state. This change opened Alabama up to many breweries who would not otherwise have had distribution in the state.
The state house version of the homebrew bill (HB9) is scheduled for a vote this Tuesday, April 2, so we’ll quickly see which way the wind is blowing in Alabama. Even if the bill fails, the senate version is still alive and we can try again, but here’s hoping we get this over with quickly. Maybe this is the year the bill passes and the rest of the country can welcome Alabama into the fold of a free-brewing nation.
Alabama homebrewers are urged to visit Right To Brew, a pro-homebrew advocacy organization. They also link to a helpful list of legislative phone numbers so your voice can be heard.
Stay tuned for any updates. ')}