Archive for January, 2011

Beer and wine and…….

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Some folks have raised questions about the terminology of SB 444 and whether it covers wine, mead, sake and other things that people ferment. We haven’t sought any changes to definitions in existing law. Mainly that’s because the existing definitions seem to cover all these other beverages, and also because to our knowledge neither the OLCC nor anyone else has ever suggested these beverages aren’t covered. They all seem to fall under the definition of wine, in ORS 471.001:

“Wine” means any fermented vinous liquor or fruit juice, or other fermented beverage fit for beverage purposes that is not a malt beverage, containing more than one-half of one percent of alcohol by volume and not more than 21 percent of alcohol by volume. “Wine” includes fortified wine.

The law clearly covers homemade wine, and although in most of our communications we’ve used the words beer and homebrewing, the law addresses both. That language remains. For other things, the phrase “other fermented beverage fit for beverage purposes” covers an awful lot of ground. Mead, sake, dandelion wine, pretty much anything that ferments and is potable would be covered. Our approach to this effort has been to focus on fixing only the things that need to be fixed. Because people are counting on being able to resume competitions as soon as possible, we tried to avoid any major expansions of homebrewing privileges or changes that could draw opposition to the bill. In the case of mead, sake and other fermentables, it appears that the tent already is big enough to cover everyone without any new language.

Stand up for Homebrew

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

After eight months of work and waiting, we are finally ready to push a bill through the Legislature. Within a few days we’ll have our first hearing in the Senate, before the Business, Transportation and Economic Development Committee. Now legislators need to hear from us. They need to know a lot of people are behind this, and the only way they’re going to know that is if you tell them. The more homebrewers they hear from, the faster we’ll get this done and we can all go back to having competitions and taking beer to meetings and all the other things we used to do. Legally.

Please don’t assume other people will do this so you don’t have to. We need a flood of letters/e-mails to hit legislative in-boxes to make this happen. Homebrewers are not a large group compared to the other interest groups that elected representatives hear from every day. We don’t have lobbyists or lawyers. All we have is you. So please spread the word, cajole your fellow brewers and anyone who appreciates your homebrew to speak up. It’s time for homebrewers to stand up, and for those who support homebrewers to stand with us.

We’re not going to put out a form letter you just copy, paste and put your name on. Legislators hate those and don’t give them much weight. We really need you to write one of your own. It doesn’t have to be long or eloquent. Just say that you’ve been a responsible homebrewer for however long you’ve been at it, you were very disappointed when the OLCC narrowly interpreted existing law and you’re urging your legislator to vote in favor of Senate Bill 444. If you want to say more, we’re trying to stress that this bill only restores the law to what everyone believed it said all along, that homebrewers are responsible drinkers and that we remain subject to all the same laws regarding alcohol use as everyone else.

You can direct this first round of letters and e-mail to members of the BTED committee and to your state senator. When the bill gets to the House (it will go through the Senate first), we’ll asking you to do another round of letters to your state representative. Here’s the contact info for committee members:

Sen. Lee Beyer, Chair
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1706

Sen. Jason Atkinson, Vice-Chair
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1703
District Phone: 541-282-6502

Sen. Ginny Burdick
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1718

Sen. Chris Edwards
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1707

Sen. Fred Girod
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1709
District Phone: 503-769-4321

Sen. Bruce Starr
Capitol Phone: 503-986-1715
District Phone: 503-352-0922

Don’t know who your senator or representative is? Here’s a link that will help you: If you know the name but need the contact info, go to the Legislature’s home page: Click on either “Senate” or “House” in the upper toolbar and then look for the link to an alphabetical list. Please write today.

Why we support Senate Bill 444

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

The reasons for supporting Senate Bill 444 are simple. It’s the only bill introduced in the Legislature by a homebrewer with input from homebrewers. It’s the only bill that addresses all of the issues raised the OLCC’s narrow interpretation of existing law. And it’s the only bill that will allow homebrewers to do all of the things we thought were legal all along.

SB 444 will:

● Eliminate restrictions on the transportation of homebrew
● Eliminate restrictions on where homebrew can be consumed
● Eliminate restrictions on where homebrew can be made
● Allow clubs to charge dues
● Allow entry fees and prizes at competitions
● Allow homebrew to be served at club meetings held at pubs or other licensed premises
● Allow homebrew club members to participate in small-scale professional brewing at pubs
● Allow people who teach homebrewing classes to be paid.

SB 444 was written at the direction of Sen. Floyd Prozanski, a longtime homebrewer, who worked with the Oregon Home Brewers Alliance to draft the legislation. It already has 26 co-sponsors, far more than any other bill addressing the same issue.

The bill is intended only to restore the privileges that were believed to be in place all along. It is not an attempt to expand the practice of homebrewing beyond the reasonable limits that hobbyists have been observing for at least the past 20 years. And it leaves homebrewers subject to all laws regarding the legal and responsible use of alcohol. It is fair, reasonable and responsible. And although we use the word “homebrew” in descriptions of the bill, it also includes home winemaking and related beverages. We urge all homebrewers and everyone who supports home wine and beermaking to contact their legislators and urge them to support SB 444.

Info on competing homebrewing bills

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

SB 511/HB 2262

The Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Brian Boquist, a Republican from Dallas. It’s a very bare-bones bill. It solves the transportation problem and allows prizes at competitions but does little else. Dues are still defined as financial consideration and therefore barred, homebrew must be made at a private residence by a person living at the residence and it does nothing to allow club meetings, competitions or tastings at licensed premises. Does not allow club participation in brewing on licensed premises. People cannot be paid for teaching homebrew classes. This would solve only a few of the prohibitions currently facing homebrewers. It appears that the House bill is an identical version of the Senate bill.

HB 2588

Introduced by Rep. Mike Schaufler, a Democrat from Happy Valley, and co-sponsored by Rep. Greg Matthews, a Democrat from Gresham. This is also relatively limited, and in places the language seems less clear. It allows homebrew to be transported. But it still seems to bar dues in return for homebrew and does not clearly exempt clubs. It allows prizes to be awarded in competitions, but only if they are of minimal value (such as ribbons, etc., presumably). It also requires that homebrew be made at a home, although not necessarily by the resident. But that bars brewing in parks, at homebrew supply stores or other commercial property. Does not allow club participation in brewing on licensed premises. It also does not address homebrew tasting and competitions at licensed premises, nor does it allow brewing teachers to be paid.

HB 2642

Introduced by Schaufler. Probably the more comprehensive of the other bills, but still limited. It allows transportation of homebrew, specifically allows dues for homebrew clubs and puts no limits on the type of prizes awarded at competitons. It allows a tax credit or deduction for donating beer or wine to a nonprofit organization. But it maintains the language defining homebrew as being made at a private residence by a person living there, barring people from taking their gear to a friend’s house, homebrew supply store or other non-residential property to brew. It does allow “organized judging, tasting, exhibition, contest or competition” on licensed premises. But it does not allow homebrew clubs to participate in brewing with professional brewers on licensed premises to produce beer or wine for sale. Does not allow brewing teachers to be paid.

HB 2913

Introduced by Rep. Matt Wingard, a Republican from Wilsonville. As with the others, it deals with the transportation issue but is limited in other areas. Allows dues to clubs and prizes at competitions. But again defines homebrew as being made at a private residence by a person living there. Allows consumption of homebrew on licensed premises, but makes it “subject to any restrictions imposed” by the OLCC. Also sets a maximum serving size of 6 ounces when homebrew served at licensed premises for any reason. Does not allow club participation in brewing on licensed premises. Does not allow brewing teachers to be paid.

Update – Support SB 444

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

The Oregon State Legislature reconvened for it’s 2010 session on January 10. Six bills relating to homebrew were filed in the opening days of the session. Two in the Senate and four in the House. Some share a number of similarities, others emphasize different aspects of the homebrewing issue. The bill introduced by Sen. Floyd Prozanski is the one backed by, and drafted with input from, the Oregon Home Brewers Alliance. This one gives homebrewers the most latitude with the least oversight by the OLCC. This one is SB 444, and we will be urging homebrewers and homebrew supporters to back this one. It has the most co-sponsors, and at this point, we believe, the most momentum. We’ll be getting additional information out in the next few days. The Legislature is adjourning at the end of this week and will not reconvene until Feb. 1. That’s probably when bills will be assigned to committees and we’ll have a little better idea of which way things are going. In the next few days the OHBA will try to get some more information out soon with specifics on why we want people to support SB 444

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