If any of you reading this recognize the title of this post from Brewing TV, we should become friends. There was a conversation amongst the writers here at Peach Pundit where we were asked to state what legislation we wanted to follow and well Mike Hassinger beat me to HB 99 but hopefully he will forgive me for writing this post. Though feel free to check out the Peach Pundit Daily where mike had a paragraph in yesterday’s letter.
What you will hopefully read and comment on is a letter I just sent to my state rep yesterday. I removed his name and my last name but other than that it is unedited.
My Name is Eric and I am both a constituent and a home brewer. I’m emailing you today to ask that you co-sponsor HB99 so that it can have more support as it goes through the committee and then the whole House. Both of these may be difficult given some rural areas of the state and their opinion of alcoholic beverages. As the law currently stands the Georgia law is much more restrictive than the federal statute. Currently I am only able to make 25% of what I could make under federal law, because I live in Georgia.
It is likely that the opposition will say that current restrictions are a means to prevent underage drinking. This is a fallacious argument for several reasons. First is cost. My basic brewing set up cost around $200. In addition to cost of equipment there is also the cost of ingredients; my last mash bill was a total of around $45. Very few teenagers would be willing to shell out this amount of money for a night’s drinking. A second factor is time. The quickest you could make a batch is 3-4 weeks. I don’t believe most teenagers trying to get a drink are patient enough to wait this long when it would be much easier to get an older friend or sibling to go to the corner gas station for a case of Natural Light. Not to mention the ability to hide the fermentation containers from their parents for that period of time. Finally there is the product you are making itself. While it is not very difficult to make a batch, one should keep in mind the styles that are being made. Most home brewers are not making a pale yellow and mostly flavorless style of beer (strangely enough it is not easy to make). Instead they are making Brown ales, India Pale Ales, Stouts, and Porters. Most of which are an acquired taste, and some of them are not an efficient means of alcohol delivery. Put plainly, it is much easier to shot gun a Bud Light than an India Pale Ale.
Home brewers are a very diverse group that like to include anyone that is interested in the hobby. We like to show off what we have made, and use that as encouragement for newer and less experienced brewers. Because of this, we like to compete. While some brewers (like myself) have never entered into a home brew competition, many do. Some even go off to found small micro-breweries of their own. Mike Hassinger in the Peach Pundit Daily used a great analogy: “The Craft Brew industry looks at homebrewers as a sort of a farm team -anyone with a good recipe can make it into their league.” This is most clearly shown through the Sam Adams’ Longshot competition where home brewers compete with their recipes to then have it made and distributed by Sam Adams for the whole country to enjoy.
Home brewers are a benefit to our economy and our culture. We keep local stores in business that cater to our hobby. We compete in brew competitions that can bring tourists to the area. I have friends that compete around the South East. Why not make it easier for them to come here? If a home brewer can share more of their product and compete a little bit closer to home, then it may be a little bit easier to make that jump to starting their own brewery. You may be familiar with names like Sam Adams and Dogfish Head. You may not be as familiar with their owners Jim Koch and Sam Calagione, who were both home brewers that started a brewery back when it wasn’t as easy and now have national distribution.
In closing, I ask that you lend your support to this bill and lessen the state imposed restrictions on home brewers.