The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) focuses on a variety of government affairs-related activities on behalf of America’s homebrewing community. The AHA works on issues that directly affect homebrewers, such as transportation of homebrew to competitions, and events and laws relating to serving homebrew at organized events.
The AHA recognizes the close ties between the professional and amateur brewing communities, and therefore participates in the Brewers Association’s Support Your Local Brewery network to inform its members about issues facing craft beer consumers and their local breweries.
Familiarize yourself with the questions and answers below to help you intelligently and effectively discuss and support homebrewing rights.
Important Questions About Homebrewing
- What is the history of homebrewing?
- Is homebrewing legal?
- Is homebrew safe?
- Who are homebrewers?
- Why do Americans homebrew?
- How many Americans homebrew?
- Are homebrewers responsible consumers of alcohol?
- Does homebrewing contribute to underage drinking?
- Does homebrewing have a negative impact on tax revenue?
- How does homebrewing help the future of professional brewing?
- Why should homebrew be allowed at organized events?
What is the history of homebrewing?
- Beer has been brewed at home since the dawn of agriculture, dating back to at least 5000 BC.
- In colonial times, homebrewing was a common household practice, typically performed by women.
- Many of the Nation’s founders, including George Washington, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were homebrewers.
Is homebrewing legal?
- Homebrewing was federally legalized in 1978.
- Homebrewing is currently legal in all fifty states.
- In 2013, Mississippi and Alabama were the last states to legalize homebrewing. Mississippi’s law went into effect on July 1, 2013, marking the first day since prohibition that the entire United States of America permitted homebrewing on the state level.
Is homebrew safe?
- There are no known pathogens that can survive in beer.
- The brewing process is safe. Unlike distilling, homebrewing does not involve the production of flammable liquids and does not involve high pressures.
Who are homebrewers?
Based on surveys of AHA members and non-members, homebrewers come from a diverse array of backgrounds, however, a majority:
- have technical or professional occupations.
- are well educated, with a vast majority having college degrees.
- fall into a middle to upper-middle class income range.
- are married.
- have a creative, do-it-yourself approach to brewing which helps encourage creativity in the broader beer community.
Who are American homebrewers? Infographic.
Why do Americans homebrew?
- The number one reason for brewing among AHA members is the creative and artistic aspect of the hobby. Creating a well-crafted beer at home is much like cooking a gourmet meal.
- The number two reason for brewing among AHA members is the scientific aspect of brewing. The process of brewing beer involves biochemistry and thermodynamics. Many brewers also build some of their own equipment, which can involve metallurgy, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.
How many Americans homebrew?
- The AHA estimates that at least 1.2 million Americans brew beer at home at least once a year.
- The are currently over ≈39,000 members of the AHA.
Are homebrewers responsible consumers of alcohol?
- Homebrewers have a deep knowledge of beer ingredients and the brewing and fermentation process.
- The primary reason for consuming beer is to enjoy the diverse array of flavors and aromas. They approach beer much like wine connoisseurs approach fine wine.
- Homebrewers are well aware of the effects of alcohol and their personal limits. As a result, homebrewers tend to be more responsible than other alcohol consumers.
- Homebrewers serve as examples of how to consume alcohol in a responsible manner.
- Homebrewers are the leading supporters of local commercial craft breweries. These breweries contribute jobs and tax dollars to their communities, and many support a variety of charitable causes.
Does homebrewing contribute to underage drinking?
- There are other forms of alcohol currently available (sub-premium beer, malt liquor, fortified wine, sub-premium spirits) that are cheaper and much more easily attainable for minors than homebrew.
- Homebrewing requires a fairly substantial investment in equipment ($80-150) that minors would be unlikely to want or be able to afford.
- Homebrewing equipment is bulky and cannot be easily hidden.
- A single batch of beer takes a minimum of three weeks to produce, and most take longer.
- Every batch of beer will take several hours of work to produce.
Does homebrewing have a negative impact on tax revenue?
- The vast majority of homebrewers do not brew frequently enough to substantially cut back on their purchase of commercially produced beer.
- Homebrewers are the leading advocates of small, local breweries. Homebrewers contribute to their state by purchasing locally produced beer and supporting small businesses.
- Homebrewers are inclined to encourage their friends and family members who consume alcohol to support local breweries.
- Homebrewers purchase ingredients from locally owned businesses, which also contribute to local tax revenue and employ local residents.
How does homebrewing help the future of professional brewing?
- The AHA reports that at least 90 percent of professional brewers began as homebrewers.
- Most professional brewers work for small businesses.
- Most start-up breweries are founded by homebrewers. The top three craft breweries in the U.S. (Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Co.) were all founded by homebrewers.
Why should homebrew be allowed at organized events?
- The majority of American homebrewers enter competitions.
- There are over 400 homebrew competitions held in the U.S. each year.
- Judging provides feedback to homebrewers, which will help them improve their skills.
- Judges go through a rigorous exam process in the Beer Judge Certification Program.
- Judging involves tasting very small samples (generally 1-2 ounces per entry).