hist-brewing: US Laws on Spirits, Wine, and Beer

PBLoomis at aol.com PBLoomis at aol.com
Fri Jun 22 21:17:47 PDT 2001

Greetings all,
    Recently I was called to help judge a brewing and vintning 
competition, and found that one of the entries was "Spirits of 
Honey" -- a flagrantly illegal distilled mead.  Worse yet, the senior
judge was quite sure that distilling small amounts (she said 20 
gallons per year) was legal!!  I had not been expecting this, and 
did not have any documention with me.  I will try not to make that 
mistake again.
    For any of you who are *not* familiar with the laws on alcohol
in the United States, here's a summary.  My apologies to the many
members of these Lists who are outside the US; I regret boring you,
but if I keep one person from getting busted by the ATF for a stupid 
but innocent mistake, I'm sure you'll agree it's worth the minor 

In the US, private citizens can make for their own consumption:
* No spirits (distilled stuff) in any amount.
* 100 gallons beer, 100 gallons wine for one-adult household.
* 200 gallons beer, 200 gallons wine for two or more adults in household.
* Cordials are not addressed, since you are buying the alcohol rather than 
producing it.

    To see the law, in plain English, straight from the horse, go to 
<www.atf.treas.gov/alcohol/info/faq>, and from there slide your cursor
down to General Alcohol and click on FAQ #G1.  
    Once you get there, look also at the links on beer and wine.
    I think it's pretty clear.  
    Print out all three items, and carry them with you whenever you 
go to a brewing Event.  You will be surprised at the number of well 
informed and intelligent people who do *not* know the Law, or worse 
yet, know it wrong and are disseminating incorrect information.
    In joy and service,
    Barony of Seleone, Kingdom of Meridies
    On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, southeast of Gulf Wars


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