craft-beer-week-new-york-city-photo-ccDuring the recent NBA lockout, a number of the league’s stars found ways to stay at work by participating in charity games across the country and other summer league events.  Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony played in Oklahoma City and raised $100,000 for the Single Parents Support Network of Oklahoma City.  Durant, James, Anthony, Paul, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, John Wall and Amar’e Stoudemire got together in Miami to support Mary’s Court Foundation.  More stars met in Philadelphia, Minneapolis and San Jose, among other locations.

The situations are certainly different, craft brewers are not directly at odds with the federal government and the shutdown did not occur as a means of burdening the brewers.  But the result is similar.  Many craft brewers are left with innovative brews that cannot reach the consumers due to the cessation of operations at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).  The TTB, as most now know, is responsible for approving formulas (when non-traditional ingredients are used) and labels (to ensure the labels appropriately represent what’s in the beer and meet other Federal guidelines).

Could craft brewers put together a large charity craft beer festival to ensure that they don’t have to throw their product down the drain?  It depends.  In Florida, such an event could very well be legal and draw brewers and event-goers from across the state to try the would-be special releases.  Florida’s homebrewing law (§562.165 Fla. Stat.) holds that a person who is not prohibited from possessing alcoholic beverages may produce beer for personal or family use, and not for sale, not to exceed 200 gallons per year if there are two or more such people in the household (otherwise 100 gallons).  The statute does not specifically require that the beer must be brewed within a home or even that it cannot be brewed on commercial brewery’s premises, but does use the household language when discussing the maximum production.  The statute allows for the removal of beer from the premises where made for uses such as “organized affairs, exhibitions, or competitions, such as homemakers’ contests, tastings, or judgings.”  While the beer cannot be sold, entrance fees for the event could be charged and could go toward charity and toward covering the costs of travel and other expenses to bring the beer to the event.

In other states, such as craft beer destinations like Washington state and Oregon, such an event would not be so easy. In Washington, for example, Washington Revised Code §66.12.010 similarly allows for removal of beer for use at various events, but refers directly to “beer manufactured in any home for consumption therein[.]”  Oregon’s statutes are similar, allowing beer to be offered at events and tastings.  Again, however, the statute refers to the beer as “homemade”. ORS §471.403(2) does allow a holder of a brewery license to allow patrons to brew beer on premises if the brewing is conducted under the direct supervision of the licensee or its employees.

It could be an idea to avoid wasting good beer.  However, as the deadline to increase the debt ceiling looms, it’s likely that this will be resolved and not become an issue.  Maybe next time.

To reference the pertinent homebrew laws of any state, please visit the American Homebrewers Association website here: http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/government-affairs/statutes