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General Category => Homebrew Clubs => Topic started by: granitebaybrewer on March 02, 2013, 04:52:38 pm

Title: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: granitebaybrewer on March 02, 2013, 04:52:38 pm
Hi All,

We're a new homebrew club located near Sacramento, California. Our club, along with at least 2 others, were invited to serve our beers at a local beer festival with over 90 commercial breweries attending.  After making plans, and literally with kegs in hand, they told us that the ABC wouldn't allow us to serve--probably something to do with them collecting an entrance fee and linking this fee to the home brewed beer. The beer festival was a charity event.

Anyway, I was wondering if any club out there has started it's own club sponsored nano-brewery and obtained licensing? I believe this would answer any questions that would arise about the club serving at brew fests. Is this a viable idea? Would the club have to drop out of the AHA even though we'd be brewing on a homebrew system?

I realize there would be some complexities involved, but I thought I'd throw it out there for discussion.

Cheers,
David Long
Secretary, Placer Ultimate Brewers Society (PUBS)
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: rbclay on March 02, 2013, 05:24:42 pm
Pretty sure getting licensed is the definition of no longer being a homebrewer.
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: phunhog on March 02, 2013, 06:22:26 pm
That a bummer about you guys being shut out of the event. My club has poured at a very similar festival here in SoCal for the last five years with no problems. Of course we operate more on the "better to beg forgiveness, than ask permission" philosophy.  In fact some of us are slated to pour at a very small charity beer festival next month. On a side note.....I was talking to a co-worker who is very connected politically in CA...his wife is a former high ranking state assemblywoman. I was telling him about this "problem"...Homebrewers not being able to pour beer at charity beer festivals.  He talked to some current state politicians.....he got the impression that it would be a fairly easy fix via legislation. That there would be very little/no real opposition.
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: Alewyfe on March 02, 2013, 07:05:01 pm
Our club was invited to pour at a local brewfest in 2011. According to the powers that be there was no problem as admission was free to the event. There was no admission charge, you only bought glasses and drink tickets and we did not require tickets for our beer.

The next year 2012, we were told we could not pour under the festivals liability insurance. We could however donate our kegs to the festival and they could dispense them for "paid tickets" the same as the commercial beers. This was apparently deemed to be OK as the festival was organized by and with proceeds going to a non-profit.

I think most of the rules are made by the local liquor commission rep depending on how they feel on any particular day. Without club members being able to pour at our own booth and talk to people about the club, etc., it has become very difficult to get members to participate in the festival. A lose:lose  situation for both us and the fest.
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: Slowbrew on March 03, 2013, 02:09:54 pm
Our club was invited to pour at a local brewfest in 2011. According to the powers that be there was no problem as admission was free to the event. There was no admission charge, you only bought glasses and drink tickets and we did not require tickets for our beer.

The next year 2012, we were told we could not pour under the festivals liability insurance. We could however donate our kegs to the festival and they could dispense them for "paid tickets" the same as the commercial beers. This was apparently deemed to be OK as the festival was organized by and with proceeds going to a non-profit.

I think most of the rules are made by the local liquor commission rep depending on how they feel on any particular day. Without club members being able to pour at our own booth and talk to people about the club, etc., it has become very difficult to get members to participate in the festival. A lose:lose  situation for both us and the fest.

I know the whole situation is in the past but my first thought was the orginizers saw dollars being missed and wanted to increase the take.  Even if it goes to charity that seems a bit greedy to me.  I would also question wether homebrew can be donated and then sold.  Did the "donation" somehow satisfy the tax man?

Sorry your club lost the opportunity but it's probably best you didn't participate.

And for the record IANAL.  I'm just a sometimes grump guy with a tendency to see the bad side of people (especially before my first 3 cups of coffee).

Paul
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: Jimmy K on March 03, 2013, 03:50:39 pm
I've heard many stories about clubs serving 'publicly' and the situations seem to depend on mostly on state law, and somewhat on interpretation by the organizer, local ABC officials, and whether they are paying attention.  I would first start with a call to AHA to ask about California laws regarding homebrew at festivals. Some states explicitely allow this by law, some ban it by law, and most ignore it leaving it up to interpretation.

I'd be surpised if any club was interested in running a nano after the costs were accounted for. These also vary by state, but you'll need licenses, insurance, dedicated space, equipment. You'll probably get inspected. And then you'll pay tax on all that beer that you just want to give away. 

You were right not to participate in the festival this time. If you're not pouring, then you can't promote your club and homebrewing. For me, that is the only reason to do this.
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: bboy9000 on March 03, 2013, 04:10:14 pm
I went to the Heritage Beer festival in St. Louis last year and a local homebrew club had a similar issue.  They had kegs ready and were informed about some state law although it apparently was never enforced in the past.  They ended up serving soda pop.  If there's anyone on the forum from the St. Louis Brews homebrew club they could probably give more details on the situation they encountered.
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: Alewyfe on March 03, 2013, 04:11:05 pm
Our club was invited to pour at a local brewfest in 2011. According to the powers that be there was no problem as admission was free to the event. There was no admission charge, you only bought glasses and drink tickets and we did not require tickets for our beer.

The next year 2012, we were told we could not pour under the festivals liability insurance. We could however donate our kegs to the festival and they could dispense them for "paid tickets" the same as the commercial beers. This was apparently deemed to be OK as the festival was organized by and with proceeds going to a non-profit.

I think most of the rules are made by the local liquor commission rep depending on how they feel on any particular day. Without club members being able to pour at our own booth and talk to people about the club, etc., it has become very difficult to get members to participate in the festival. A lose:lose  situation for both us and the fest.

I know the whole situation is in the past but my first thought was the orginizers saw dollars being missed and wanted to increase the take.  Even if it goes to charity that seems a bit greedy to me.  I would also question wether homebrew can be donated and then sold.  Did the "donation" somehow satisfy the tax man?

Sorry your club lost the opportunity but it's probably best you didn't participate.

And for the record IANAL.  I'm just a sometimes grump guy with a tendency to see the bad side of people (especially before my first 3 cups of coffee).

Paul

I might be your sister Paul, because I saw it the exact same way. This particular festival is the biggest fund raiser for this PAC and I think the bottom line was all about $$$.  I too have no idea how the local LCC guy and the organizers figured if it was a non profit that it was OK to sell our beer. Why then wouldn't non profits be running breweries???....duh.
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: Slowbrew on March 03, 2013, 05:38:56 pm


I might be your sister Paul, because I saw it the exact same way. This particular festival is the biggest fund raiser for this PAC and I think the bottom line was all about $$$.  I too have no idea how the local LCC guy and the organizers figured if it was a non profit that it was OK to sell our beer. Why then wouldn't non profits be running breweries???....duh.

I'm not sure I need a 5th sister.   :o

You might be able to replace a couple of them though.   My 3 brothers and would need to vote someone off the island.  ;D

Paul ;D
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: tschmidlin on March 04, 2013, 06:50:21 am
If your club has a relationship with a local brewery, you might be able to brew there.

Rogue's Issaquah Brewhouse has a small pilot system, one of my clubs brews on it occasionally and they put the beer on tap in the pub.  That is tax paid beer brewed on premises, just with different equipment, and would easily meet the requirements for any festival.
Title: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: denny on March 04, 2013, 03:58:13 pm
If your club has a relationship with a local brewery, you might be able to brew there.

Rogue's Issaquah Brewhouse has a small pilot system, one of my clubs brews on it occasionally and they put the beer on tap in the pub.  That is tax paid beer brewed on premises, just with different equipment, and would easily meet the requirements for any festival.

Our club had a similar arrangement with Rogue here that we're about to terminate.  It just didn't work out the way we anticipated.
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: svejk on March 04, 2013, 04:05:47 pm
Couldn't a charity event be structured like NHC Club Night?  It seems to me that the conference has been held in a whole bunch of states, and the AHA has found a way to structure it where people can buy tickets to an event, and homebrewers can serve them.  Maybe it has something to do with the participants being members in the organization, but you'd think that the cost of the tickets for the event could be considered dues rather than an entrance fee - kinda like the days in Utah where you had to join a private club to get a beer...
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: Jimmy K on March 04, 2013, 04:26:15 pm
Couldn't a charity event be structured like NHC Club Night?  It seems to me that the conference has been held in a whole bunch of states, and the AHA has found a way to structure it where people can buy tickets to an event, and homebrewers can serve them.  Maybe it has something to do with the participants being members in the organization, but you'd think that the cost of the tickets for the event could be considered dues rather than an entrance fee - kinda like the days in Utah where you had to join a private club to get a beer...
That's also because AHA only selects cities/states with laws that allow club night to happen. I hear Austin has been passed up because of legal issues.
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: repo on March 04, 2013, 04:31:51 pm
Pretty sure getting licensed is the definition of no longer being a homebrewer.

Not at all. Majorvices owns a commercial brewery, lives in a state where homebrewing is illegal, but I think he still considers himself homebrewer. Right Keith???
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: tschmidlin on March 04, 2013, 05:12:30 pm
Pretty sure getting licensed is the definition of no longer being a homebrewer.

Not at all. Majorvices owns a commercial brewery, lives in a state where homebrewing is illegal, but I think he still considers himself homebrewer. Right Keith???
The person doesn't get a license as a professional brewer, the location is licensed as a brewery.  What you do at home is something else entirely.
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: jeffjm on March 05, 2013, 09:53:30 pm
I went to the Heritage Beer festival in St. Louis last year and a local homebrew club had a similar issue.  They had kegs ready and were informed about some state law although it apparently was never enforced in the past.  They ended up serving soda pop.  If there's anyone on the forum from the St. Louis Brews homebrew club they could probably give more details on the situation they encountered.

I was one of the people who had kegs ready to go and couldn't bring them. I don't remember all the details, but it was pretty well covered in the local paper.  The official reason we were barred was that selling entry tickets to the festival constituted 'selling homebrew'. At least part of the problem was that the festival was right across the street from Busch Stadium and was likely to be on national TV during a game. That may have been what made the local alcohol commissioner nervous. Prior years events weren't nearly so well publicized, so it was easier to turn a blind eye.
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: granitebaybrewer on March 06, 2013, 04:21:58 am
Thanks you all for the continued input!

Tim Schmidlin - You mentioned the club brewing at a brewery.  Yes, this is what I had in mind. We have a brewery in town that is very homebrewer friendly.  If the club could set up a nano within the brewery as a separate entity, then we could put one or more beers on tap at the brewery and/or a local pub, who also is very supportive of the club. This would be the so called "commercial" face of the club which would allow us to serve and donate beer to charity events, and recruit new members of course. Granted, the beer served at the events would have to be brewed at the nano. Might be a big headache and cost prohibative to do this, but I feel it's worth exploring anyway.

Denny Conn - Your club seemed to have done something similar. I would like to hear more detail about this if you can post about it.

By the way, here's how the California law is written (it's definitely up for interpretation):

Note: I removed a couple of paragraphs that dealt with wine making.

Code 23356.2 states:

No license or permit shall be required for the brewing
of beer for personal or family use, and not for sale, by a person over the age of 21
years. The aggregate amount of beer with respect to any household shall not exceed
(a) 200 gallons per calendar year if there are two or more adults in such household,
or (b) 100 gallons per calendar year if there is only one adult in such household.
Any beer brewed pursuant to this section may be removed from the premises where
brewed for use in competition at organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions, including
homemakers’ contests, tastings, or judgings.

Maybe the best solution would be talk to festival organizers and have them add "Homebrew Competition" to the beer fest title.  Then people attending could vote for their favorite homebrewed beer.  Wouldn't this make it a "Competition at an organized affair"?

Cheers,
Dave
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: tschmidlin on March 06, 2013, 04:50:30 am
Tim Schmidlin - You mentioned the club brewing at a brewery.  Yes, this is what I had in mind. We have a brewery in town that is very homebrewer friendly.  If the club could set up a nano within the brewery as a separate entity, then we could put one or more beers on tap at the brewery and/or a local pub, who also is very supportive of the club. This would be the so called "commercial" face of the club which would allow us to serve and donate beer to charity events, and recruit new members of course. Granted, the beer served at the events would have to be brewed at the nano. Might be a big headache and cost prohibative to do this, but I feel it's worth exploring anyway.
No, that's not how it works.  It is their equipment, it is brewed under their license, it is their beer, brewed by our club.  They put it on tap at their place, but they could just as easily have sold the keg or dumped it if they didn't like it.

All you would need to do is convince them to let you do it.  You could bring some of your equipment or use theirs, brew there, they account for it with their beer, and you can do what you like.

The event is already an exhibition/tasting/organized affair and fits within the law. The grey area is where you have to pay to get in to the event, that is likely why they won't let you serve the beer that has not been taxed.
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: phunhog on March 06, 2013, 05:35:00 am
Thanks you all for the continued input!

Tim Schmidlin - You mentioned the club brewing at a brewery.  Yes, this is what I had in mind. We have a brewery in town that is very homebrewer friendly.  If the club could set up a nano within the brewery as a separate entity, then we could put one or more beers on tap at the brewery and/or a local pub, who also is very supportive of the club. This would be the so called "commercial" face of the club which would allow us to serve and donate beer to charity events, and recruit new members of course. Granted, the beer served at the events would have to be brewed at the nano. Might be a big headache and cost prohibative to do this, but I feel it's worth exploring anyway.

Denny Conn - Your club seemed to have done something similar. I would like to hear more detail about this if you can post about it.

By the way, here's how the California law is written (it's definitely up for interpretation):

Note: I removed a couple of paragraphs that dealt with wine making.

Code 23356.2 states:

No license or permit shall be required for the brewing
of beer for personal or family use, and not for sale, by a person over the age of 21
years. The aggregate amount of beer with respect to any household shall not exceed
(a) 200 gallons per calendar year if there are two or more adults in such household,
or (b) 100 gallons per calendar year if there is only one adult in such household.
Any beer brewed pursuant to this section may be removed from the premises where
brewed for use in competition at organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions, including
homemakers’ contests, tastings, or judgings.

Maybe the best solution would be talk to festival organizers and have them add "Homebrew Competition" to the beer fest title.  Then people attending could vote for their favorite homebrewed beer.  Wouldn't this make it a "Competition at an organized affair"?

Cheers,
Dave
You are absolutely right that it is up for interpretation!! There is a "mobile" brew pub in SF(Brewtruc) that was letting homebrewers pour their beer at various charity beer gardens.  Everyone who attended could vote for their favorite beer and give feedback. Thus meeting, in their eyes, the letter of the law since it was a competition/judging.  I guess CA ABC got wind of it and said that a contest could only have "5-7 judges"!!  Talk about pulling something out of their arse...no where in the law does it stipulate the number of judges permitted in a homebrew competition.
As far a charity event being structured like the NHC...it already exists. The California Homebrewers Assoc. is a legitimate 501(c) charity whose primary purpose, as far as I can tell, is to put on two homebrew festivals a year.  Here's the catch....it is free to members (40 dollar annual dues). Of course the only real benefit to being a "member" is "free" entry to the festival. Technically they sell memberships instead of tickets. In fact they aren't allowed to sell tickets, I mean memberships ;), at the gate. Check it out..http://www.calhomebrewers.org/
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: denny on March 06, 2013, 04:54:22 pm
In our case, Rogue bought a 30 gal. MoreBeer sculpture (top of the line) and put it in the basement of their local brewpub.  They also bout a temp controlled conical for the system.  Our people would go in and brew using ingredients supplied by Rogue.  Generally, they were pretty good about getting ingredients that were needed, but sometimes we just had to wing it.  The finished beer was owned and sold by Rogue.  Even the club member who brewed it had to purchase it...no free beer for the club.  They were supposed to have a tap handle available for us all the time, but often their own beer would fill that while ours sat until there was space.  They did no identification kf the beer as being brewed by the club.  Basically, we were just providing free labor.  We recently decided to end our brewing on the system because we just couldn't identify the value to the club.
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: Jimmy K on March 06, 2013, 07:06:18 pm
Code 23356.2 states:

No license or permit shall be required for the brewing
of beer for personal or family use, and not for sale, by a person over the age of 21
years. The aggregate amount of beer with respect to any household shall not exceed
(a) 200 gallons per calendar year if there are two or more adults in such household,
or (b) 100 gallons per calendar year if there is only one adult in such household.
Any beer brewed pursuant to this section may be removed from the premises where
brewed for use in competition at organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions, including
homemakers’ contests, tastings, or judgings.

Maybe the best solution would be talk to festival organizers and have them add "Homebrew Competition" to the beer fest title.  Then people attending could vote for their favorite homebrewed beer.  Wouldn't this make it a "Competition at an organized affair"?
Honestly, that's about as good as it gets. I think the goal going forward would be to educate about what the law actually says.
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: corkybstewart on March 06, 2013, 08:30:25 pm
In our case, Rogue bought a 30 gal. MoreBeer sculpture (top of the line) and put it in the basement of their local brewpub.  They also bout a temp controlled conical for the system.  Our people would go in and brew using ingredients supplied by Rogue.  Generally, they were pretty good about getting ingredients that were needed, but sometimes we just had to wing it.  The finished beer was owned and sold by Rogue.  Even the club member who brewed it had to purchase it...no free beer for the club.  They were supposed to have a tap handle available for us all the time, but often their own beer would fill that while ours sat until there was space.  They did no identification kf the beer as being brewed by the club.  Basically, we were just providing free labor.  We recently decided to end our brewing on the system because we just couldn't identify the value to the club.
Those guys at Rogue are pretty damn smart.  If the beer was good they sell it, if not dump it and wait for another group of brewery slaves to make another batch.
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: denny on March 06, 2013, 08:32:34 pm
Those guys at Rogue are pretty damn smart.  If the beer was good they sell it, if not dump it and wait for another group of brewery slaves to make another batch.

It was all good and I don't think any got dumped.  Beyond that, I have a lot of friends at Rogue, so I'll restrain myself...
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: phunhog on March 07, 2013, 09:38:18 pm
In our case, Rogue bought a 30 gal. MoreBeer sculpture (top of the line) and put it in the basement of their local brewpub.  They also bout a temp controlled conical for the system.  Our people would go in and brew using ingredients supplied by Rogue.  Generally, they were pretty good about getting ingredients that were needed, but sometimes we just had to wing it.  The finished beer was owned and sold by Rogue.  Even the club member who brewed it had to purchase it...no free beer for the club.  They were supposed to have a tap handle available for us all the time, but often their own beer would fill that while ours sat until there was space.  They did no identification kf the beer as being brewed by the club.  Basically, we were just providing free labor.  We recently decided to end our brewing on the system because we just couldn't identify the value to the club.
I am hoping we can convince the brewery where our club meets to do something like this!! I think it would because they are not only a brewery but also a homebrew shop.  It seems like it would be a win/win for the brewery. They get to put a "special" beer on tap for a day or two and get more people into the hobby. 
Title: Re: Homebrew Club Running a Nano-Brewery
Post by: Jimmy K on March 08, 2013, 01:20:47 pm
I am hoping we can convince the brewery where our club meets to do something like this!! I think it would because they are not only a brewery but also a homebrew shop.  It seems like it would be a win/win for the brewery. They get to put a "special" beer on tap for a day or two and get more people into the hobby.
Well that could work well since promoting homebrewing is in the financial interest of the brewery/shop.