West Virginia

Updated: 10/2014

Status: Possibly permitted, subject to product being not for sale and state definition of “Nonintoxicating Beer”.

Note: “Nonintoxicating Beer” in WV contains not more than six percent alcohol by volume.

Statute

west virginiaWest Virginia code Chapter 60, Article 6, § 60-6-7(1) provides that a person shall not manufacture or sell in West Virginia without a license any alcoholic liquor except as permitted by article 6. Currently, no license or exception exists for the home production of beer in West Virginia. However, § 60-6-2 provides an exception for the home manufacture of wine.

“Wine” in West Virginia is defined as any alcoholic beverage obtained by the fermentation of the natural content of fruits, or other agricultural products, containing sugar.

“Beer” is defined as any beverage obtained by the fermentation of barley, malt, hops, or any other similar product or substitute, and containing more alcohol than that of nonintoxicating beer.

“Nonintoxicating beer” means all cereal malt beverages or products of the brewing industry commonly referred to as beer, lager beer, ale and all other mixtures and preparations produced by the brewing industry, including malt coolers and nonintoxicating craft beers containing at least one half of one percent alcohol by volume, but not more than nine and six-tenths of alcohol by weight, or twelve percent by volume, whichever is greater, all of which are hereby declared to be nonintoxicating and the word “liquor” as used in chapter sixty of this code shall not be construed to include or embrace nonintoxicating beer nor any of the beverages, products, mixtures or preparations included within this definition.

“Alcoholic liquor” in West Virginia includes alcohol, beer, wine and spirits, and any liquid or solid capable of being used as a beverage, but does not include nonintoxicating beer.

Discussion

West Virginia presently has no statute or exception recognizing the home production of beer. Such an exception exists for the home production of wine. Nonintoxicating beer in West Virginia is not considered an alcoholic liquor. Therefore, it appears that no license is required for the home production of nonintoxicating beer so long as it is not for sale. However, § 11-16-5 states that no person shall manufacture, sell, possess for sale, transport or distribute nonintoxicating beer except in accordance with the provisions of article 16, and after first obtaining a state license therefor, as provided in article 16. This section may not apply to the home production of beer because the definition of “brewer” or “manufacturer” as defined in § 11-16-3(1) means any person brewing, mixing, concocting, etc. nonintoxicating beer for sale at wholesale to any licensed distributor. Because nonintoxicating beer produced in the home is not offered for sale it may not be in violation of § 11-16-5. Nonintoxicating beer in West Virginia is defined simply as beer, lager beer, ale, etc. containing at least one half of one percent alcohol by volume, but not more than four and two-tenths percent of alcohol by weight, or six percent by volume, which ever is greater.

Special Provisions

Note that § 60-6-6 provides for the transportation of alcoholic liquor not to exceed ten gallons. Additionally, § 60-6-19 deals with the forfeiture of stills and materials used in the manufacture of alcoholic liquors.

State Alcohol Beverage Control Agency

Applicable Statutory Material

§ 11-16-3 Definitions.

For the purpose of this article, except where the context clearly requires differently:

(1) “Brewer” or “manufacturer” shall mean any person, firm, association, partnership or corporation manufacturing, brewing, mixing, concocting, blending, bottling or otherwise producing or importing or transshipping from a foreign country nonintoxicating beer for sale at wholesale to any licensed distributor.

(2) “Brewpub” shall mean a place of manufacture of nonintoxicating beer owned by a resident brewer, subject to federal regulations and guidelines, a portion of which premises are designated for retail sales.

(5) “Nonintoxicating beer” means all cereal malt beverages or products of the brewing industry commonly referred to as beer, lager beer, ale and all other mixtures and preparations produced by the brewing industry, including malt coolers and nonintoxicating craft beers containing at least one half of one percent alcohol by volume, but not more than nine and six-tenths of alcohol by weight, or twelve percent by volume, whichever is greater, all of which are hereby declared to be nonintoxicating and the word “liquor” as used in chapter sixty of this code shall not be construed to include or embrace nonintoxicating beer nor any of the beverages, products, mixtures or preparations included within this definition.

§ 11-16-5 State license required; alcoholic content of beer manufactured for sale without state.

No person shall manufacture, sell, possess for sale, transport or distribute nonintoxicating beer except in accordance with the provisions of this article, and after first obtaining a state license therefor, as provided in this article. Nothing contained in this article shall prohibit any brewer located within the state from manufacturing or transporting for sale without the state beer of an alcoholic strength greater than that of nonintoxicating beer.

§ 60-1-5 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter:

“Spirits” shall mean any alcoholic beverage obtained by distillation and mixed with potable water and other substances in solution, and includes brandy, rum, whiskey, cordials and gin.

“Person” shall mean an individual, firm, partnership, limited partnership, corporation or voluntary association.

“Manufacture” means to distill, rectify, ferment, brew, make, mix, concoct, process, blend, bottle, or fill an original package with any alcoholic liquor.

“Manufacturer” shall mean any person engaged in the manufacture of any alcoholic liquor, and among others includes a distiller, a rectifier, a wine maker and a brewer.

“Brewery” shall mean an establishment where beer is manufactured or in any way prepared.

“Winery” shall mean an establishment where wine is manufactured or in any way prepared.

§ 60-6-1 When lawful to possess, use or serve alcoholic liquors.

The provisions of this chapter shall not prevent:

(1) A person from keeping and possessing alcoholic liquors in his residence for the personal use of himself, his family, his servants or his guests if such alcoholic liquors shall have been lawfully acquired by him;

§ 60-6-2 When lawful to manufacture and sell wine and cider.

The provisions of this chapter shall not prevent:

(1) A person from manufacturing wine at his residence for consumption at his residence as permitted by section one [§ 60-6-1] of this article;

§ 60-6-7 Specific acts forbidden; indictment.

A person shall not:

(1) Manufacture or sell in this state without a license any alcoholic liquor except as permitted by this article;

Note: The information presented here is to the best of our knowledge and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice specific to the laws of your state.

 
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