By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY-A three hour exchange held the House floor hostage on Thursday over a bill that would make home brewing legal in Alabama.
On one side was the bill’s sponsor Representatives Mac McCutcheon (R-Capshaw) on the other was a vocal group of opponents. In a case of republican verse republican House members gave praise and scolding on behalf of the bill. Most sighted religious reasons, others moral, all had points to make.
In the end HB354 passed the House and is now, headed for an unforeseeable future in the senate.
“It is a very simple bill, it says you can brew in your on home a small amount beer, mead, cider and wine,” said McCutcheon, “It not for sale, it cannot be taken out of the home except for special occasions and if so these events must be licensed in the state. You cannot brew in a dry county and you can only keep a 15 gallon aggregate over a quarter.”
McCutcheon says that he became convinced of the bill’s relevance after meeting with people in his district for the last three years. “Because of BRAC and the technology that has come into the state people have followed the jobs and some of these people lived in states where home brewing was legal and they like to make a little wine or beer for themselves,” said McCutcheon, “Many of these individuals are in jobs were they have government security clearances so, because of home brewing being illegal in Alabama they are denied a hobby that they used to enjoy.”
McCutcheon represents an area around Huntsville’s thriving technology community were many transplants have made Alabama their home.
Federal law allows home brewing but Alabama still has a law on the books that outlaws the making of any type of ferment type beverage in your home.
Out of the countries 50 states 48 allow legal home brewing. McCutcheon says he thinks it is time for Alabama to legalize home brew like the other states, stating that in many respects it is part of our heritage. “There was a time when even the grandmothers used to brew wine out of Muscadine, but it was still illegal,” said McCutcheon.
The bill does not allow for the making of any liquor type drinks and anyone who engages in home brewing must be 21 years old.
“The ABC board was actively involved in writing this bill we asked for their help and guidance on this matter to make sure it was enforceable,” said McCutcheon, “There are penalties for those who do not follow the law and no one who has a felony conviction is allowed to home brew.”
McCutcheon said he knew there would be some that had an issue with the bill for religious reasons and that some would object on health reasons and others. “I am sensitive to these concerns but this is fundamental right of citizens in our country,” said McCutcheon,“This will be done in the privacy of a persons home by adults and for adults.
HB354 is co-sponsored by Mike Ball (R-Huntsville), Joe Hubbard (D-Montgomery), Barry Mask (R-Wetumpka), Thad McClammy (D-Montgomery), Elaine Beech (D-Chatom),Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee Institute), Howard Sanderford (R-Huntsville, Phil Williams (R-Huntsville), Oliver Robinson (D-Birmingham), John W. Rogers (D-Birmingham), Mary Moore (D-Birmingham), Jim Patterson (R-Merdianville) and Dan Williams (R-Athens)