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Oregon Liquor Control Commission squelches homebrewing events
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) has effectively squashed homebrew sharing by arming itself with an old law. Statute ORS 471.403, part of Oregon’s Liquor Control Act, bans the production of alcoholic beverages by any person or party without a license, but it “does not apply to the making or keeping of naturally fermented wines and fruit juices or beer in the home, for home consumption and not for sale.” The agency recently began literally enforcing the “home consumption” clause, putting an end to homebrew club tastings, amateur beer competitions and gifting suds to friends.
A July 2 post to the OLCC’s official blog states that a review of the law was spurred by several requests for information about legal compliance by homebrew competition hosts, including the Oregon State Fair. The agency says homebrewers lose the law’s exemption to brewing craft beer without a license when the brew is consumed outside the home.
“The Department of Justice’s guidance certainly requires us to look at the competitions in a different way than we have before,” says the post. “It’s completely understandable that home beer and wine makers would be disappointed. …The OLCC is already working with Representative Mike Schaufler and Senator Floyd Prozanski to draft language for legislative consideration in the next session. We ask that those people who are concerned with this issue help us gain support and cooperation from the legislature to get the law revised and in effect in time for next summer’s fair season.”
Deschutes Brewery, based in Bend, Ore., has already canceled a homebrew event.
Gary Fish, president and founder of Deschutes Brewery, said:
“The real story is that Deschutes Brewery contacted the OLCC to ensure that a homebrewers forum we were planning during American Craft Beer Week was legal,” says Gary Fish, the brewery’s founder and president in a statement today. “After a three-minute conversation with an OLCC representative, we were told that the agency would call us back with further information. This never happened, and the planned event was dropped as a result. The bottom line is that we were attempting to create an event celebrating homebrewing, and our roots in this culture. …We hope that these OLCC laws will change in the near future, as recent coverage has suggested, and that homebrewers can continue to share their creations with the world.”
On Monday, the Associated Press reported that Rachel McIntosh, an organizer of the Deschutes County Fair, said that unless she’s explicitly notified by the OLCC that beer and wine contests are out, the fair would continue accepting entries for the fair’s annual competition.
Attempts to contact the OLCC for comment were not immediately returned.
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