New law makes Oregon homebrew fully legal again

Big thanks to the brewing community and the Oregon legislature

Recent action in the Oregon House and Senate has corrected a 2010 legal oversight that temporarily held the transport of homebrew illegal in Oregon. Passage of SB 444 means homebrew competitions at the Oregon State Fair and local county fairs across the state will be back. Homebrewers also will be able to legally take their creations out of their homes again.

Prohibition-era Oregon law clarified to not include homebrew

The bill changes a prohibition-era law that was recently reinterpreted by the Department of Justice. While not an intended part of the law’s enforcement, the unfortunate legal interpretation caused the cancellation of home brew and wine events statewide last year. The legal opinion said that while Oregonians could brew beer and craft wine at home, they couldn’t share it beyond that. SB 444 also clarifies that those who brew craft beer or wine at home can share it with friends and neighbors.

The new bill fixes problems in the current law that led to the DoJ interpretation. “This bill is a great example of legislators coming together to fix an unintended consequence of state liquor law,” said Oregon House Co-Speaker Bruce Hanna. “Local events should be able to feature local home brewers and this bill puts us back on the right track.”

Senator Floyd Prozanski, a homebrew enthusiast, was also instrumental in the bill’s creation and passage. His work on the bill was praised by State Rep. Mike Schaufler, Co-Chair of the House Committee on Business and Labor. “This bill stops in its tracks a misguided legal opinion that shut down competitions at fairs all over Oregon,” explained Rep. Schaufler. “This legislation ensures that homebrewers can share their products and that the growing craft beer industry gets a boost. The return of these competitions at local county fairs is welcome news for home brewers and their fans.”

Beer: it brings politics together

While never intended as a punitive measure against the state’s homebrewers and homebrew events, the 2010 legal interpretation nonetheless had a chilling effect on events and competitions across Oregon. Fortunately, from the brewing community to the legislature, Oregonians acknowledged the problems were unintentional and immediately began working together to craft legislation to fix the problem. Officials from both political parties worked with groups such as the Cascade Brewers Society, Oregon Home Brewers Alliance and the American Homebrewers Association to put in place new legal language.

The bill now goes to Gov. John Kitzhaber, who is expected to sign it into law.

Thanks to all who helped make this happen. If only all legal and political issues could be as quickly and collaboratively resolved as one involving beer!

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