Home Brewing Legal in All 50 States

Until this month, America was not truly a free country.

Until this month, America was not truly a free country.

The Economist (“Hops and change“):

MOST Americans may not realise it, but their country is a little freer, and perhaps slightly tipsier than it was last month. On July 1st it became legal to make beer at home in Mississippi. Alabama lifted the threat of prosecution for homebrewers in May. It is now legal to craft your own suds in all 50 states.

Benjamin Franklin is said (probably apocryphally) to have called beer “proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”. Jimmy Carter signed a law exempting home-made beer from excise tax in 1978, in effect legalising homebrewing at the federal level. But it has taken 35 years for the most puritanical states to swallow the bitter pils of legalisation. Outfits such as the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) have been lobbying state legislatures to loosen up for decades. It took five years of legislative ferment to get the law changed in Alabama, for example.


But homebrewers’ long stagger to freedom is not yet complete. For one thing, it remains illegal to make your own beer in the “dry” counties of many states, including Alabama and Mississippi. And even in places where homebrewing is legal, a host of subsidiary regulations still gum up the taps, points out Gary Glass of AHA. There are often limits on how much you can brew, where you can consume your handiwork, whom you can serve it to and so on. Idaho even insists that homebrewers use only ingredients grown within the state. It is possible, it turns out, to make beer from those famous potatoes.

As our Homebrewer-in-Chief might put it, “along this long, difficult journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jenos Idanian says:

    Hang on one golderned minute! How in hell could home brewing be legal in Utah?

    Holy crap.

    I think I might need to consider a new hobby…

  2. sam says:

    If I’m not mistaken, federal law allows one to make 200 gallons of wine a year for personal consumption free from taxation.

  3. Anderson says:

    “Mormon Mead – what Mormons secretly drink before reading The Book of Mormon!”

  4. Argon says:

    Next step, legalizing home distillation.