By Phillip Rawls/The Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Several thousand home brewers in Alabama are waiting to see if the governor will make their hobby legal and end Alabama’s status as the only state banning the making of beer and wine at home.
The Alabama Senate gave final approval late Tuesday night to a bill to permit adults to make beer and wine for personal consumption, but not for sale. The bill passed the House earlier and now goes to the governor.
A member of the Right to Brew organization, Brant Warren of Huntsville, said Wednesday that members are hopeful Gov. Robert Bentley will sign it into law because he has signed other liquor-related legislation even though he doesn’t drink.
The governor’s press secretary, Jennifer Ardis, said he will review the bill and then make a decision.
The American Homebrewers Association estimates there are 1 million home brewers nationwide, with about 5,000 of them in Alabama. They formed a very public grassroots organization to push for the bill, even though Alabama law has prohibited an individual from owning equipment to make alcohol. The state liquor control agency has cracked down on the retail sale of equipment, but not on home brewers.
Alabama and Mississippi had been the last states to ban home brewing, but Mississippi passed a law in March.
Megan McCourt, a spokeswoman for the American Homebrewers Association, said Mississippi’s law has a 90-day delay before it takes effect, and Alabama could end up allowing home brewing before Mississippi because Alabama’s bill is effective as soon as the governor signs it.
The bill would allow home brewers to make 15 gallons of beer or wine every three months. Warren said that is less than most states allow, but it was necessary to get enough support in the Legislature to pass the bill.
The bill drew opposition from the church-based Alabama Citizen Action Program. Executive Director Joe Godfrey said the bill marked the latest in a series of measures passed by the Legislature to increase access to alcohol.