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Messages - dbeechum

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I really think the ABC is over reaching here. Obviously wort doesn't contain alcohol until the introduction of yeast but I seriously wonder if the ABC even knows this.  Can somebody explain to me how they can regulate a product/activity that doesn't even contain alcohol?  I hope a LHBS stands up to them!!

No one has ever said the ABC will be fining/arresting folks for making wort, but for making beer. To me that means the shop can't do any fermentation on site since it's not home based. There are probably regulatory angles to consider given that most regulatory agencies take a dim view of trying to play semantics games.

Regardless of whatever we feel about the rhetoric or lines of interpretation being offered, the best course of action is to get things codified into the law so everyone has a clear picture of things that are less subject to the varying whims of all the involved parties.

The Pub / Re: The Drunken Botanist
« on: August 31, 2014, 04:23:57 PM »
Oddly, these days I have a ton of bitters, but no Angostura. Right now, I'm using Scrappy's as my replacement.

This has never been the land of the free when it comes to alcohol - look at the Whiskey Rebellion!

So moving further down the road why does the ABC have a concern on where a homebrew club meets?   My club meets in the back of a local brewery.  I am trying to rack my brain thinking of any potential issues that could occur and can't think of any.  IF anything I would think that they would want it in an establishment that regulates alcohol vs. someplace that doesn't.

Mostly, I think to keep things simple, prevent bootlegging and consumer confusion. If booze is legally on the premise of the bar/brewery than it's clear cut available for sale, taxes and fees, etc have been paid. No questions, no wiggle room, etc. If you allow an exception, than you open up a scheme by which someone could have illegal booze on hand - "oh, that? That's for the homebrew club meeting. That's homemade wine. No we haven't been selling it! The nerve of you! That bottle of whiskey? Bought it at the store to take home with me!"

Another issue is safety. Presumably, a licensee would be far more at risk of overservice if a customer is able to serve themselves homebrew while at the bar/brewery. Or if a person could be cut off at the bar, but be served homebrew, etc, etc.

It's all incredibly frustrating, but from a licensee's pov, they're pretty much being told - having unlicensed alcohol on the premises puts your license at jeopardy. If you're a brewery, that license is literally your life's blood.

You need to talk with more enforcement folks! Most think we're a-okay. Some think homebrewing is a cousin of moonshining and some feel like the whole thing should be illegal. (Also, Alcohol Justice will comment on any bill dealing with alcohol)

I imagine the source of the amendments was the ABC and law enforcement working with various legislators.

This was an easy bill to get passed because it's still a special case thing. If the ABC sees a lot of profit driven fests appearing I imagine they'll push back on the licensing aspect. I also suspect the sheer mechanical work of the process (finding a location, getting leo approval, getting the license, etc) will keep it from becoming a giant thing.

Now, the next part - the making it possible for homebrew clubs to meet/compete/etc in a licensed establishment is going to be the really fun one and I would expect more resistance to that effort. The concerns about confusion, potential sales and enforcement of separation are going to be even more heightened.

The ABC would dimly consider the presentation of homebrewed beer with commercial imagery and no labelling as homebrew as a fraudulent activity rife with consumer liability issues. Additionally, the donation of the beer until Jan 1 of this year would have been prohibited. Taxation, licensing, etc.. all the stuff that makes a regulatory agency a regulatory agency.

Had an enforcement agent come across such a presentation, they would have probably shut down that part of service and fined the licensee (severely for allowing unlicensed alcohol to be served) and had a severe talking with the server for pouring unlicensed alcohol. Additionally, future fests for the licensee would be in question due to the violation.

It's important enough to them that in AB-2609 it's stated that there must be signage at the fest entrance that homebrew is unregulated, potentially hazardous, etc. Additionally, homebrew itself must be labelled clearly that way. Even better, if a fest has both commercial and homebrewed beer then homebrew has to be physically separated with a barricade and physical monitoring and additional signage from any commercial beer.

The ABC has legal authority on how homebrew is presented and labelled and offered to the public since they regulate all alcohol in the state including defining what the boundaries are of the exemption granted by law to homebrewing. Hence their ruling on shop educational sessions. (And I know, several shops have been visited by ABC agents to have that "good" word delivered to them)

Part of why I'm spreading the word about this bill and what's allowed is that we need to have everyone on the same page and best behavior to diffuse arguments about homebrewing as a refuge for scofflaws and scoundrels for when we tackle the next parts. Incidentally, this view in nothing new - back in the 70's when the homebrewing legalization bill was written, there was a competing bill, the Conable Bill, that would have required homebrewers to register with the ATF, because the agency was worried that homebrewing would be used as a legal cover for moonshining.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: I want to brew bigger batches
« on: August 23, 2014, 10:40:00 PM »
Same places you did for your previous equipment. The only thing that changes on this level is the size of the pots/tuns/etc. If you want to stay cooler - keep an eye on, usually at the end of summer they have great deals on coolers.

I have noticed a trend in homebrewing laws....nothing gets accomplished until someone gets in trouble or at least there is a threat of trouble. 

It's actually usually a little simpler than that. Usually everyone hums along just assuming that what we do is a okay, because it's never been pointed out as illegal. We know not to sell, we know to front as a commercial brewery (most of us), etc, etc. Otherwise, we act like - well we're being reasonable and the law must not mind since no one has said boo. Then...

Someone either truely spectactular messes up (not in my experience) or someone or some place with a monetary worry decides to check with their local ABC about the legality of a thing. Because the ABC's rules tend to be restrictive and not permissive, their first reaction is usually "no, you can't" and it's usually backed up by the strict wording in the law. That then means we lose our competitions, festivals, etc. (see Oregon) until we can get the law change. Even in Oregon, where the ABC was super favorable, they had to cancel their activities until they could get the legislature to act. That is the nature of the law, after all.

In the case of AB 1425, AB 2609 that all happened because someone up north wanted to make sure the donation of homebrewed beer and wine for a charity function was legal. The ABC said "what? no!" and so they went to the legislature (without spreading the word and allowing consultation) and passed a law that meant well and tried to close potential loopholes (e.g. no nonprofits that are about beer, etc). Then we had the side effect of the SCHF closure, followed by this years legislative activity and the ABC issuing it's clarification rulings.

It almost always begins as something well meaning and so, the debate a lot of folks have is - do we bring attention to what we're doing to attempt to become fully above board/legal or do we let the state slumber while we do this harmless thing? Ultimately, while one is safe and comfortable, we really need to do the other to be truly open about everything! (One of the few rules I remember from my dad - when face with two actions, one that's easy and one that's hard - the one that's hard is almost always the right thing to do)

When enforcement happens, it's sorta terrifying. This year with the change in the law the ABC threatened the CHA board of directors with arrest if they put on the fest, so.. woo.

That's what happens when an enforcement agency feels like you're flaunting the law.

In the ABC's own words:

Q. Can “home brew” supply stores make homemade beer or wine for demonstration purposes?

A. No. The law provides that beer or wine may only be produced without a license in a “household”
for “personal or family” use. Beer or wine produced at a “home brew” supply store or any other
similar location for any purpose, including demonstration, would not comply with this provision.


What does the bill provide?
  • Non-profit homebrew organizations like the AHA, the CHA, the Maltose Falcons, etc can officially hold ABC sanctioned fundraising events (2 per year) for their members.
  • The event must have an educational component
  • The homebrew that's served is considered a donation
  • Signage abounds (e.g. - "hey, this is homebrew, unregulated stuff")
  • Festivals that mix homebrew and commercial beer must have the two physically separated with barriers, monitoring and additional signage
  • No "day of" signups
  • Any fundraising event with more than 50 attendees will be required to notify the ABC 48 hours in advance with the number of attendees.

What don't we get:
  • Homebrew events (club meetings, competitions, etc) at licensed establishments (e.g. bars, breweries, brewpubs)
  • Homebrew Shop Demonstration Brews
  • Homebrew Store Samples

With the Falcons we take advantage of our crew and have one or two folks that take the scoresheets and scan them. Each entry set gets emailedto a private box that gets downloaded and renamed. Once that process is done, another script is run, the scoresheets organized by entrant and checked for validity against the entry db and then uploaded to our server. A final script is run to then email all the contests with a url to download their scoresheets.

All in all the post scanning side takes ~15 minutes, but that's because I wrote the Ruby scripts that do all the hardwork.

Homebrew Clubs / Re: AHA Club Insurance Program
« on: August 08, 2014, 05:16:36 PM »
Yeah, if a club tries to defraud the insurance company and pull a quick one, they'll be providing grounds for denial of coverage for an incident.

And no, this is a program that's been engaged and created for AHA registered clubs as a benefit for the clubs and not the AHA. The AHA is providing the "umbrella" for the policy and there were agreed on targets to hit for determining the premium.

The one thing that may be explored in the future is the AHA covering the insurance for a club that crosses some threshold of AHA members in the club. (e.g. 75% club members being AHA members means free insurance for the club!) But there's nothing concrete around that concept.

The Pub / Re: F Cancer
« on: August 07, 2014, 10:16:16 PM »
Lost my dad to Leukemia at the age of 45 - 32 years ago, so.. yeah.

The problem with "curing cancer" is that cancer is a broad catch all for a bunch of different syndromes caused by multiple things. There isn't one cure, but they're making a ton of progress. If my dad were to have had his leukemia today, he'd probably survive.

Homebrew Clubs / Re: AHA Club Insurance Program
« on: August 07, 2014, 10:12:32 PM »
What is the status if you belong to more than one club?

The insurance only applies to the club, not the member in the sense that if you're a member of 3 different clubs then 3 different clubs are paying $3.50 for you if they're all in the program.

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