14 April 2010

It's not as easy as it seems.

There is a new Minnesota law that has home brewers excited. The law has been publicized as legalizing the sale of basement made home brew. Don’t believe everything you read.

In order to legally sell beer, home brewers will still need a federal license and a state license to manufacture and sell beer.

What the new Minnesota law does make legal is the making of beverages in basements. Previously, home brewers were not able to legally make beer in their basements, even if it was covered under the personal consumption licensing exemptions. Yes, that’s right, you were not allowed to make any kind of beverage in your basement, whether for sale or not. My guess is that no one was going to get arrested for making a pot of tea in the basement.

Now, at least in Minnesota, home brewers and licensed brewers can explicitly make beer in basements. Actually, anyone can make any kind of beverage in their basement, assuming the beverage is legal to make (home distilling is still illegal).

As usual, there is a catch. Beverages for sale, rather than for personal consumption, must still go through several government channels. If beverages are not alcoholic, the beverage and the basement may still need to go through state and local health department and other approvals and permitting. Alcoholic beverages still need to go through the federal and state licensing processes, in addition to any local approvals or permits. Home brew cannot be legally sold.

Even with Minnesota’s clear intention to allow basement breweries, or wineries, brewers still need to comply with all other local zoning, and federal requirements for basement breweries. Just because the state allows it, does not mean that the TTB will approve the basement brewery or winery. See our post on basement and garage breweries here.
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