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On October 10, 2018, over 30 North Carolina homebrewers attended the North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control (NC ABC) Commission annual meeting to comment on proposed permanent rules concerning homebrewing. If adopted, the proposed permanent rules would greatly harm the way homebrewers may operate in the state and damage the community as a whole.
Homebrewers were given a few minutes each to present their objections to the proposed rules and showcase homebrewers’ responsibility and stewardship in the beer community.
In 2017, the AHA assisted North Carolina homebrewers in helping to pass comprehensive homebrew legislation. The measure allowed individuals to make, possess, and transport homebrew for their own use, for the use of family and guests, and for use at organized affairs and competitions.
Since then, the AHA has worked with North Carolina homebrewers to provide extensive input to the NC ABC Commission on proposed permanent rules regarding the homebrew law.
Critical Issues in Proposed Permanent Rules
Homebrewers commented on many issues to the NC ABC commission. Below are some of the more critical proposed rules that would hurt homebrewers’ ability to host homebrew club meetings, competitions, and organized events if adopted by the NC ABC and approved by the Rules Review Commission.
- Restricting storage of homebrew in retail licensed facilities to 48 hours (restaurants, bottle shops, brew-on premises, homebrew stores that sell alcohol) and commercial licensed facilities (breweries, wholesalers, wineries) to 30 days. These highly restrictive rules could make homebrew competitions and drop-off sites impractical.
- Prohibiting an organized affair (homebrew club meeting) from being held at a commercial ABC-permitted location.
- Prohibiting others from transporting another person’s homebrew. Implications of this rule would make pick-up locations impractical and would hurt larger competitions.
- Restricting a homebrewer to transporting no more than 80 liters (4 Corny kegs) of only their homebrew at one time. This would mean that homebrewers could not transport someone else’s homebrew or more than 4 corny kegs of their own homebrew to share with friends, family, or club members.
Public comments to the NC ABC Commission on the proposed rules closed November 5, 2018. The Commission will vote on the rules at its November 14 meeting. If adopted, the rules will move to the Rules Review Commission for approval at its annual meeting on December 13, 2018.
Legislation vs. Rule Making
Laws often do not include all the details needed to explain how they might be followed. In order to make the laws work on a day-to-day level, the NHC ABC creates rules to enforce the law.
Rules set specific requirements about what is legal and what isn’t. For example, the proposed permanent rules explain who is allowed to transport homebrew and how much homebrew is allowed to be transported at one time. Another example is defining the length of time for which homebrew may be stored at specific licensed facilities or where unlicensed beer (homebrew) may be permitted in a licensed facility.
The NC ABC Commission operates within limitations as an enforcement body, not a legislative body. The purpose of the proposed permanent rules is to comply with the limits of underlying law, not to conform the rules of what may be or have become current practice. Some of the limitations in the NC ABC’s proposed rules regarding homebrewing pertain to laws in the alcohol beverage code that are specific to the homebrew law.