On this date in history, Mississippi’s law permitting homebrewing went into effect, marking the first day since prohibition that the entire United States of America permitted homebrewing on the state level.
On October 14, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed legislation creating an exemption from taxation of beer brewed at home for personal or family use. This exemption went into effect on February 1, 1979, and made homebrewing legal on a federal level in the U.S. But the 21st Amendment left regulation of alcohol primarily to the individual states. As a result, each states’ laws regarding homebrewing vary widely. Not all fifty states even allowed it, until July 1, 2013.
In Mississippi, however, where there are an estimated 2,000 homebrewers, an enabling statute isn’t the only hurdle. Practitioners must purchase a $1,000 commercial brewing license. Also, it remains illegal to make your own beer in the “dry” counties of Mississippi. And even in places where homebrewing is legal, there are a number of subsidiary regulations limiting how much you can brew, where you can drink it, etc. You can read the entire Mississippi law here, or check the laws in your own state by clicking on this link of the American Homebrewers Association and then clicking on the orange Statutes by State button toward the top right of the page (at the bottom right of the screencapture below).
What’s the objection to homebrewing? Some may cry health issues, but the real problem may be that, according to data from the Brewers Association, craft brewing sales have been increasing dramatically and taking over a greater share of the domestic beer market. And many, if not most, start-up breweries were founded by homebrewers, including the top three craft breweries in the U.S.: Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Co.
The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) estimates that over 1 million Americans brew beer at home at least once a year.