Thursday, May 14, 2009

What New Jersey homebrewers make,Trenton says don't take off site

Here’s an interesting item: Washington State just revamped its law regarding homebrewing to allow up to 20 gallons of home-brewed beer to be taken out of the home. (Washington’s bill was signed into law on May 6th).

It’s interesting, because here in New Jersey, as written, our regulations restrict consumption of homebrew to the premises where it was made. That’s spelled out on the application for a homebrewing permit the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control says you must have to make beer in your back yard. Lots of homebrewers breaking that rule, we've seen (and shared in their hard work).

And here’s something odd about this permit application: It asks you where you were born, not when you were born (it does, however, ask how old you are, but notice it doesn’t require you to prove your age, as in providing supporting documentation). What does your birthplace have to do with anything? Nothing.

We’ve said it before, this permit is pointless, and in some ways, it’s just an attempt at being an impediment to homebrewing, not to mention a way of taxing home-made beer, although the statute does exempt homebrewers from the state alcoholic beverage tax for beer. Most of the homebrewers we’ve spoken to don’t bother with this permit. Who can blame them? At the end of the day, when you’ve brewed 5 gallons, or even 15 gallons, you’ve put in about six hours of work and have to wait a month or so to drink it. Oh yeah, that needs the state to put its foot on things to keep it from getting out of hand.

Trenton has no clue. It’s almost like the state had a knee-jerk moment when it allowed homebrewing (which the federal government gave the green light 31 years ago): Oh gosh, we must require a permit. The original fee, back in 1995, was 3 bucks. Now it’s 15. Wonder if Trenton tops $1,000 annually in collection of permit fees?

The American Homebrewers Association says it can’t say for certain, but no other state comes to mind, not even Washington, as far as requiring homebrewers to have a permit to enjoy their hobby.

Just New Jersey. Go figure.

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