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Some bad news for homebrew competitions

So read this article in the local papers a week before the homebrew competition. Sad day and talk about how to ruin events that have been going on for a couple years.

http://www.grandrapidsmn.com/grand_peop ... f887a.html

EDIT: spelling.

You should note that this is only in Mn. And doesn’t seem to effect competitions, only sampling by the public.

Although other State laws may be similar.

Bummer. Not surprised though. The states in which that would be legal are probably in a minority.

Brilliant idea to combine a BBQ and homebrew competition!

Wow… here we go again… it’s Wisconsin, Oregon, other states, all over again, this time in Minnesota… change the stupid old laws. Changing the Wisconsin laws in 2012 to allow freedom of distribution of homebrew was, like, unanimous across all political parties. It was pretty awesome.

There was a movement in KS earlier this year to update the laws (which currently only allow a homebrewer to consume his/her own beer and only in his/her home). They went for it all initially, including the ability to distribute as noted in the article above. The state ABC would not support the bill until it was stripped down to only include (a) serving to guests in the homebrewers home (b) for serving in competitions (c) no money paid to anyone for consumption of the beer. Passed the full senate committee. Passed the full senate. Passed house committee. Got bundled together with an unpopular bill and shot down before the full house. Next legislative session begins in Feb 2014.

PA which has some of the stupidest alcohol laws in the nation, seems to allow this. Basically you’re limited to producing not more than 200 gallons/year and you’re not allowed to sell it. Competitions and tastings are specifically allowed as long as you’re not selling. But I find it confusing because giving away free alcohol is also forbidden. “Mug Clubs” and so forth have been shutdown.

I mean, I get it; there needs to be a line between commercial and hobbyists. I just don’t get why they can’t write sane straightforward laws.

When it’s illegal to do something that everyone is doing and no sane human really has a problem with, it is time to change the laws.

Well there’s the problem in a nutshell.
Sane people usually don’t want to be legislators.
Or maybe it’s that being a legislator drives people insane.

In DE where I live, there’s a home brew competition coming up in October where you have to pay a $10 entry fee, entrance fee for the festival event AND submit 2 cases of beer to enter! :shock: The judging is both BJCP judges and general public from tastings. Seems legal here to give away free home brew samples but I don’t know too many local brewers that are entering.

As a fellow member of the citizenry of Minnesota all I can say is, “That sucks!” :evil:

I’ll be talking to my State Legislator - with whom I’m pretty friendly - about this.

What gets me is why not let all planned competitions get a free pass till the end of the year and when the government gets back together they can make a new law that suits everyone.
I also think there are financial reasons to this. They will want the state to make some money off the distribution of homebrew but probably don’t how to without making people upset, even though by making it illegal and wanting to dip their hands in it already make people upset.

Had a similar problem in Iowa this spring. Kind of came to a head in April…and, to their credit . . .they Iowa Legislature had the law changed within a couple months and in effect by July. Pretty unbelievable actually for politics!

Here is one of many articles that addresses some of the details. This article was from after the issue was resolved.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/articl ... ck_check=1

Kinda the same thing here a couple years ago. We got the paw changed, but there were no competitons for a few months. The beer sailed through the legislature and never got a single no vote.

That is a great first step. If enough people scream about something that makes sense, politicians do listen. The system does work… sometimes. :slight_smile:

[quote=“Chuck N”]As a fellow member of the citizenry of Minnesota all I can say is, “That sucks!” :evil:

I’ll be talking to my State Legislator - with whom I’m pretty friendly - about this.[/quote]

Take a look at Oregon’s law…according to the AHA it’s the best in the nation. Also, contact Gary Glass at the AHA. They’ll help you. And one thing I learned through experience…don’t let people get pissed off about this. Keep them talking politely. The state is just enforcing the laws that are there. When it happened here, everyone at the state level, including the alcohol control people, wanted to get it changed. Get them on your side!

[quote=“TheNerdyGnome”]What gets me is why not let all planned competitions get a free pass till the end of the year and when the government gets back together they can make a new law that suits everyone.
I also think there are financial reasons to this. They will want the state to make some money off the distribution of homebrew but probably don’t how to without making people upset, even though by making it illegal and wanting to dip their hands in it already make people upset.[/quote]
It’s probably not the State that’s worried about tax revenue from Home-Brew. It’s the Distributors and - sometimes - the big brewers that usually say something.

[quote=“TheNerdyGnome”]What gets me is why not let all planned competitions get a free pass till the end of the year and when the government gets back together they can make a new law that suits everyone.
I also think there are financial reasons to this. They will want the state to make some money off the distribution of homebrew but probably don’t how to without making people upset, even though by making it illegal and wanting to dip their hands in it already make people upset.[/quote]

1.) Because the comps are illegal. Same issue we had here. No big deal, just get it fixed.

2.) How the hell is the state going to make money from the “distribution” of homebrew to contests? Your anti gov. sentiments are getting in the way of common sense.

The state should let planned competitions continue for a certain amount of time. It’s not the planners’ problem that for the past few years no one told they couldn’t. The state messed up with not knowing their own laws, they should be more generous.

Also

The state can too make money. You want to be able to give the public samples of homebrew? Simple. Just pay a fee to be able to distribute alcohol. I’m not anti-government but it’s not fair for them to suddenly tell a community they can’t continue a festival that has been happening for years just because they either just found out about the law themselves or something stopped them from turning the other cheek.

I went to the BBQ competition and it was a ghost town this year and it was something the community always got together to enjoy. It was a sad sight. If the state said “here is an amendment that will expire on such a date so we can make it legal when we are in session” this disappointment would have been avoided. I just fear the worst from this situation. I may be over thinking things here but it is always a possibility.
Ignorance of the law is not an excuse but the blame is to be shared in this instance.

I got a little off topic and ramped up but I feel this is unfair and could have been worked out.

Yes, I will be writing a letter to the state and contacting the right people to help get the voice heard, just like everyone else in MN who would like to see it changed.

Based on real experience, I can tell you that none of the things you postulate are likely to happen. But you don’t live where Ii live, so things may work out differently. For instance, in our case, paying a fee to distribute homebrew would be the same as selling it and would be strictly prohibited. And AFAIAC, the people putting on events bear at least part of the responsibility for not checking to see if they were legal. Just because the state didn’t enforce the laws doesn’t mean it was a legal activity. I can tell you that you’ll get a lot farther with understanding than with anger. And once again, contact the AHA…this kind of thing is one of the main reasons for their existence.

If I understand correctly homebrew comps in MN are not outlawed.

It is the issue with the general public openly sampling free/ untaxed/ unregulated beer at a BBQ festival that is frowned upon. The homebrew competitions themselves are fine as these are a private closed door events/—judging where the general public is not consuming or paying for samples. I have entries in both the State Fair and Ren fest and these are not a problem. Its simply that the public was going to enjoy untaxed/ unregulated beers and the state doesn’t regulate homebrew for public consumption health department wise and ATF/ TTB also doesn’t have a chance to tax these unregulated goods. Therefore no public consumption is allowed outside of private events such as club picnics, club gatherings for meetings, judging events, closed door homebrew festivals etc…

So for public gatherings or festivals, beer has to be sold/ or given away along with entry to said fest that is both “approved” for consumption and taxed by the TTB. This I don’t have a problem with. How does a commercial brewer make any money unless he can sell beer at festival etc… MN homebrewers have all the venues they need to consume and/ or sample each others beers with family and good friends/associates of friends etc… also we have our own festivals and events where we (peers/ family/ friends) Can sample/ drink freely.

Also I don’t really need 1000 sum festival goers drinking up my homebrew for free anyways and I would rather reserve it for peers/ family/ friends or associates of friends. That’s what craft/ commercial brewers are good/ needed for. All the BBQ organizers needed to do is set up a bunch of local craft and/or local wholesaler represented brands that would be thrilled to be involved in most any festival of size and then sell and/ or showcase their products by being involved with a craft brew fest, where they serve continuous samples to the public with a paid entry. There are many, many, many fledgling new brewers throughout MN that would be glad to get a call from these guys to get there product/s out to a broad audience especially in there own demographic. Any fest including craft beer and food works out real well in all areas of the metro when doing business this way.

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