In nearly every state where homebrewing is legal, the state’s statutes on alcoholic beverages include an exemption to requirements for manufacturers of alcoholic beverages to obtain a license and pay taxes. In Kentucky, there is no such statute. Thus for the last fifteen years the AHA has operated on the premise that homebrewing is not legal in Kentucky. A recent exchange with staff of the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) convinced me otherwise.
Kentucky’s laws regarding licensing for manufacture of alcoholic beverages are specifically oriented to production as a business endeavor for profit. The production of beer and wine at home for personal consumption do not fit into the licensing requirements. As a result, the Kentucky ABC defaults to federal regulations for homebrewing, which allow for the home production of beer or wine for personal or family use up to 100 gallons per person, or 200 gallons per household where there is more than one adult of legal drinking age.
The Federal statute also allows for homebrewed beer and wine to be used at organized events, such as homebrew competitions. Here the Kentucky ABC takes a rather narrow view. Homebrew competitions in which beer is sample by judges for evaluation, such as at the Kentucky State Fair Homebrew Competition, are allowed. However, that is as far as Kentucky ABC allows for homebrew to be sampled outside of the home. According to the ABC, “gifting” of homebrew, i.e. sharing homebrew outside of the home is not legal, as they do not consider that to be personal or family use of homebrew. So homebrew club meetings where homebrew is brought in and served to members would most likely not fall within the boundaries of what the Kentucky ABC would consider legal use of homebrew.
Kentucky homebrewers should rest easy knowing that their hobby is quite legal in the state where they reside. Just be cautious about where you serve your brew.
Yours in Brewing,
American Homebrewers Association Director