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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: quest4watneys on April 10, 2011, 04:03:25 PM

Title: Legal Question
Post by: quest4watneys on April 10, 2011, 04:03:25 PM
My first real brew was a RIS that I let a beer snob/aficionado friend of mine taste. He liked it so much, he gave a bottle of it to a beer snob/aficionado/bar owner in Indianapolis. He has asked me if I'd like to give him a case or two to sell at his bar and I don't wanna violate any state and/or federal laws so I'd love to find out how to legally do that. Any help is much appreciated :)
Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: denny on April 10, 2011, 04:13:30 PM
You'd be better off asking a local lawyer who knows your laws, but in general you'll have to go through licensing and production regulations.  In general, it won't be cheap.  I'd tell them thanks for the nice comments, but unless they want to cover legal fees it isn't worth your while.
Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: hopfenundmalz on April 10, 2011, 04:17:40 PM
You can't sell homebrew, as that is part of the Federal law.

You need to get all of the licenses, and most places don't let you make it in your house. An unattached garage may work.


Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: quest4watneys on April 10, 2011, 04:26:26 PM
You can't sell homebrew, as that is part of the Federal law.

You need to get all of the licenses, and most places don't let you make it in your house. An unattached garage may work.
You'd be better off asking a local lawyer who knows your laws, but in general you'll have to go through licensing and production regulations.  In general, it won't be cheap.  I'd tell them thanks for the nice comments, but unless they want to cover legal fees it isn't worth your while.

I was pretty sure it would be an arduous and expensive process and that's without factoring in that I'm brewing in my garage. Thanks for the quick replies!
Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: hopfenundmalz on April 10, 2011, 04:31:46 PM
Denny had good advice.  Some local brewers say your first hire should be your lawyer.  The second should be your accountant.

The bar owner should talk to his lawyer about his idea.   
Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: jamminbrew on April 10, 2011, 04:34:29 PM
You could donate it to the bar, and whatever sales you make could be given to a non-profit organization...
Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on April 10, 2011, 04:51:58 PM
While a local lawyer would be able to provide you with the best advice as to the precise details of brewery regulation in your jurisdiction, this question actually has a pretty straight-forward answer: you cannot sell homebrew under any circumstances pursuant to federal law.  Any local law to the contrary would be preempted by the federal statute (regardless, I'm not aware of any local law purporting to allow the sale of homebrew).

Incidentally, I just registered a domain name last week for a blog I intend to launch in the coming months which will provide legal commentary on issues affecting the brewing community (both commercial and homebrewing).  I hope that it will develop into something of a general reference to brewers (although I only aim to provide general commentary, not detailed legal advice).
Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: denny on April 10, 2011, 05:01:06 PM
You could donate it to the bar, and whatever sales you make could be given to a non-profit organization...

Maybe...I wouldn't even do that without talking to a lawyer familiar with local laws.
Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: denny on April 10, 2011, 05:02:07 PM
Incidentally, I just registered a domain name last week for a blog I intend to launch in the coming months which will provide legal commentary on issues affecting the brewing community (both commercial and homebrewing).  I hope that it will develop into something of a general reference to brewers (although I only aim to provide general commentary, not detailed legal advice).

Cool!  I'll look forward to that.
Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: bluesman on April 10, 2011, 07:45:43 PM
Incidentally, I just registered a domain name last week for a blog I intend to launch in the coming months which will provide legal commentary on issues affecting the brewing community (both commercial and homebrewing).  I hope that it will develop into something of a general reference to brewers (although I only aim to provide general commentary, not detailed legal advice).

Cool!  I'll look forward to that.

A big +1000 to that Matt!
Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: bfogt on April 10, 2011, 07:58:34 PM
You could step out of the loop by offering the recipe and let them find a place to brew it.  Of the breweries in Indy, I don't know which ones would brew on contract, but there are probably one or two.
Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on April 10, 2011, 08:14:37 PM
You could donate it to the bar, and whatever sales you make could be given to a non-profit organization...
Can not do that.
Keep your homebrew for home.
Share it with your friends.
Enjoy it.

Unless you are serious about doIng it professionally do not even think about licensing.
Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: dbeechum on April 11, 2011, 05:14:49 AM
You could donate it to the bar, and whatever sales you make could be given to a non-profit organization...

Yeah, no.. that would still be considered sales of an unlicensed, untaxed beverage with all the attendant steel bracelets.
Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: Slowbrew on April 12, 2011, 09:56:14 PM
You could donate it to the bar, and whatever sales you make could be given to a non-profit organization...

Yeah, no.. that would still be considered sales of an unlicensed, untaxed beverage with all the attendant steel bracelets.

Stainless steel bracelets are quite fashionable but its difficult to do much when they are permanently attached to each other.  

On top of the sale question you need to consider your local transport laws too.  Some states do not allow your beer to ever leave your property.  One charge is bad enough but multiple charges get hard to defend.

Paul

** Edited to hide my terrible typing skills.  8^(
Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: Tim McManus on April 12, 2011, 10:37:26 PM
Just a very quick overview of the issues:

Alcohol is taxed federally, at the state level, and in some instances the local level.  So you must file with the state, feds, and locally so they can collect their taxes.

Beer cannot be brewed residentially.  Detached garage *might* be an exception, but you'd have to be zoned for industrial.

Beer is a food product and must conform to federal, state, and local food production guidelines and laws.  You will be on a first-name basis with your local food/health inspector.

You'll want to form a business to do all this stuff.  You can easily form an LLC to do it, but federally you'l be considered a sole proprietorship (assuming you go it alone, otherwise you'd be considered a partnership).  It's better to form an S Corp because those are recognized federally as corporations.

You might want to consider contracting the brewing to another brewer and instead forming a company of your own to find the brew and collect the sales.  Contract brewing varies greatly from state to state, but some of the more famous (Boston Beer Company and the Brooklyn Brewery) breweries started out as contract companies sourcing their brewing to larger brewers.

Sounds like you have a great beer there.  Good luck with it!
Title: Re: Legal Question
Post by: thomasbarnes on May 08, 2011, 08:46:27 AM
My first real brew was a RIS that I let a beer snob/aficionado friend of mine taste. He liked it so much, he gave a bottle of it to a beer snob/aficionado/bar owner in Indianapolis. He has asked me if I'd like to give him a case or two to sell at his bar and I don't wanna violate any state and/or federal laws so I'd love to find out how to legally do that. Any help is much appreciated :)

There are plenty of microbreweries in and around Indy. Perhaps one of them would be interested in brewing your recipe, or something like it, to the bar owner's specifications. Contract brewing is one of the ways that small breweries pay the bills.