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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: cody on February 11, 2011, 03:19:53 PM

Title: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: cody on February 11, 2011, 03:19:53 PM
Hey guys, I have an idea to setup a website that would allow home brewers to send there beer in, have it tested, and then sold by us online. However, I'm thinking there are tons of legal issues with the idea, so I turn to you guys for some input. I'm looking for feedback with hard evidence, not just the "Nope its illegal" replies. Thanks a lot everyone!
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: tumarkin on February 11, 2011, 03:48:27 PM
Can't give you 'hard evidence' but having watched a friend and member of our homebrew club go through the startup phases of a bottling microbrewery, I can tell you that there are many legal hoops to jump through for one state let alone on the internet. Labeling alone is a huge nightmare. Alcohol laws vary state by state, but most are very limiting regarding even taking homebrew to someone elses house. Some specify it's ok to take to competitions, others don't. My understanding is that most absolutely don't allow the sale of homebrew.... that is certainly true here in FL.

Good luck, but my advice is give it up unless you want to take on tilting at windmills as your new hobby.
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: cody on February 11, 2011, 03:55:32 PM
Thanks for the feedback tumarkin, im leaning towards the idea of giving away your home brew... of course, only to those states who allow it.
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: denny on February 11, 2011, 04:09:44 PM
"Hard evidence" is easy to find.  You just need to talk to a lawyer.
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: dean on February 11, 2011, 04:12:28 PM
Hi Cody, I hate to sound like a jerk but in a word... NO.  Do you think if you grew tobacco it would be legal to sell it to home rollers?  Same type of question and I think the ATF would be watching you like a hawk.... could be they already are if you've talked it up any with your friends.    :o  You know how the homeland security can do just about anything including listening for "key words" etc in conversations over the phone and on the internet etc.  Be afraid... very afraid.   :o   ;D   :D
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 11, 2011, 05:15:15 PM
If it were legal, it would be a very common thing.

Do your resarch.  Start with your state law allowing homebrewing (if you are not in AL or MS).

Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: tschmidlin on February 11, 2011, 05:21:21 PM
All of the legal problems aside, you're going to have people send you beer so you can test it, and then you're going to send it to consumers?  Shipping twice and testing isn't free, that seems like a lot of added cost even if the beer itself is no cost.  Many breweries don't test every batch of their beers because it is cost prohibitive for small batches, and when most of us are only making 2 or 4 cases at a time that's a huge per bottle cost, approaching $1 or more.  And shipping a 6-pack can easily add another couple of dollars per bottle.

Now add back in all of the legal issues . . .

It's an interesting idea, but I don't see it being popular.  But that's my opinion. ;)
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: bluesman on February 11, 2011, 05:31:54 PM
Here's some interesting info. on a proposed fed legislation.

http://brewerylaw.com/2010/08/proposed-federal-legislation-could-stop-interstate-beer-sales/

I think it's a unique idea with many obstacles. I would advise legal consultation before consideration.
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: richardt on February 11, 2011, 06:28:00 PM
Onerous regulations and legalities aside, I don't perceive there to be a "demand" for this service. 
For example:
Let's hypothetically say I wanted to try Denny's Rye IPA or VBIP.
He's already been kind enough to share his recipes with us. 
So, I'd rather take his recipes and brew my own. 
If I really wanted to do a side-by-side comparison, I'd find a way to do so...and contact him directly.
Don't see how a middleman or the exchange of money helps here.
Sorry to be a downer.  I don't see it as a viable business plan.

It isn't like you're selling home-made jam in mason jars via an on-line version of the farmer's market.
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: oscarvan on February 11, 2011, 08:04:13 PM
It'll never happen.... You'll get strangled in red tape, and IF you survive that the tax man will finish you off.
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: maxieboy on February 11, 2011, 08:12:27 PM
It'll never happen.... You'll get strangled in red tape, and IF you survive that the tax man will finish you off.

+1
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: weithman5 on February 11, 2011, 08:42:54 PM
for that matter there is plenty variety of quality beers at any good store. why spend more to get someone's iffy home brew.
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: richardt on February 11, 2011, 08:49:09 PM
If you've ever been part of a club competition, you know how you have all the leftover bottles of beers that did not make it past the first or second round of a competition.  So what to do with all those bottles?
Our club raffles them off by the six pack but they're hardly worth the price of the raffle ticket, IMO. 
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: tschmidlin on February 11, 2011, 08:51:07 PM
If you've ever been part of a club competition, you know how you have all the leftover bottles of beers that did not make it past the first or second round of a competition.  So what to do with all those bottles?
Our club raffles them off by the six pack but they're hardly worth the price of the raffle ticket, IMO. 
We give them to club members, take as much as you like.  At the very least it's free bottles, but some of them turn out to be quite good.
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: jeffy on February 11, 2011, 09:41:37 PM
If you've ever been part of a club competition, you know how you have all the leftover bottles of beers that did not make it past the first or second round of a competition.  So what to do with all those bottles?
Our club raffles them off by the six pack but they're hardly worth the price of the raffle ticket, IMO. 
We give them to club members, take as much as you like.  At the very least it's free bottles, but some of them turn out to be quite good.

Once or twice, after asking the organizers politely, I was able to get my second and third bottles back.  I hate waisting good beer on questionable judging. ::)
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: dean on February 11, 2011, 10:40:22 PM
Cody, I want you to know I was only joking about the homeland security and being watched... but the rest is true, as everybody else is pointing out.. 

Its interesting, I think we see this same type of question asked every so many months or every year anyway... right after somebody gets a few good brews under their belt... they're ready to mark their spot in the world.   :D   :D  I don't think I ever did that... did I?   ::)  :D
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: richardt on February 11, 2011, 11:11:15 PM
Deans got a point there.  We take pride in our homebrews.  Nothing wrong with that.
Seems like, at one time or another, we've all stood on the bow of our mashtun and proclaimed "I'm brewmaster of the world!"
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: maxieboy on February 12, 2011, 01:09:38 AM
Seems like, at one time or another, we've all stood on the bow of our mashtun and proclaimed "I'm brewmaster of the world!"

Every brewday!  ;D
Title: Re: Selling home brewed beer, is it illegal?
Post by: ethanjhall on February 12, 2011, 01:27:10 AM
It'll never happen.... You'll get strangled in red tape, and IF you survive that the tax man will finish you off.

It wouldn't appear that you've ever started your own business... If it were easy, everyone would not only do it, but would be good at it.

for that matter there is plenty variety of quality beers at any good store. why spend more to get someone's iffy home brew.

A valid point - but what about the charm of discovering a delicious brew that isn't just the same old beer that anyone can buy at a liquor store, for instance?

Cody, I see plenty of problems with your business plan... you know - the brief 2-3 sentences that you hinted at for us. :) That being said, I know first-hand how powerful and successful your own business can be. My first business ideas were... let's say "less than spectacular."

The nature of shipping dense & fragile items could be cost-prohibitive indeed, so perhaps the exact idea you're thinking of might need some tweaks. If it's like any business plan, it will!

I'd start calling the ATF and asking questions - if you need numbers for a variety of agencies, I would happy to help you out or point you in the right direction. I'd love to hear what you find out, because I'm curious myself. Props for thinking of creative things. Even if none of them work out :)