New Homebrew Club Legislation

 The following is a call for support from Chris Frey about homebrew club legislation…

The short version is that there’s a bill that would allow homebrewers to legally have meetings and competitions at microbreweries and brew pubs, but it needs your support.  Please contact your representative and forward to other Michigan homebrewers to do the same.

As members of homebrew clubs in Michigan, one of the issues we face is where we should meet. A natural place would of course be our local microbrewery or brew pub. We are all passionate supporters of our locally produced Michigan beers, and the symbiosis of homebrewers and local craft brewers has demonstrated time and again to be a great benefit to both, as witnessed by the homebrewing origins of most of today’s craft breweries.

A while back, I contacted the state for a ruling on the permissibility for clubs to bring homebrew to microbreweries and brew pubs for club meetings and competitions. The response was negative, current legislation prohibits this activity.

Not satisfied with the response, I discussed this with various contacts. One, Bob Zukosky, a former Michigan homebrewer who has since moved to Colorado, provided me with Colorado’s model legislation that allows for this type of activity.

I then contacted fellow F.O.R.D. Homebrew club member and State Representative for the 22nd District, Doug Geiss (, to see what could be done. I shared with him the document that Bob had provided, and Representative Geiss had his staff review it to use as a starting point to draft legislation that will allow our microbrew/brew pub colleagues to host meetings and competitions.

Representative Geiss recently contacted me to let me know that he and State Representative Deb Kennedy (who, along with husband Alex, is a member of the Down River Brewers Guild) introduced House Bill 5613 on December 1st, the contents of which can be viewed at the following link: ( documents/ 2009-2010/ billintroduced/ House/htm/ 2009-HIB- 5613.htm

This amends the previous Michigan Liquor Control code that dealt with this issue. In part, it states:
Sec. 1027. (1) Unless otherwise provided by rule of the commission, a person shall not conduct samplings or tastings of any alcoholic liquor for a commercial purpose except at premises that are licensed by the commission for the sale and consumption of alcoholic liquor on the premises.

(2) This section does not prohibit any of the following…
(d) A micro brewer or brew pub from allowing the sampling and consumption on the licensed premise of beer produced by 1 or more home brewers at a meeting of home brewers, or a club composed primarily of home brewers, under the following circumstances:

(I) The sampling or consumption is for the purpose of exhibitions or competitions involving home brewers.
(ii) The beer is served in portions not to exceed 6 ounces.
(iii) No sale of beer is made to members of the general public.
(iv) The participants otherwise comply with applicable state and federal law and applicable regulatory provisions of this act and rules adopted by the commission under this act.

The bill will likely come up for discussion early in January. We need a grass roots effort to have interested parties inform their electorate that they support this legislation. Support would be especially useful from residents in the Oakland County / Rochester Hills area, as this is Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop’s home district (http://www.senate. michigan. gov/2003/ 12.pdf),. Shows of support will increase his awareness of the issue and will likely assist the bill’s passage.

Your support is critical. State laws can be changed if enough people take action and let their lawmakers know how they feel on issues important to them. Please send a letter or an email to your respective State Representative ( a_rep.asp) or State Senator (http://www.senate. michigan. gov/SenatorInfo/ find-your- senator.htm).

Points to mention are:

The strong support local homebrewers provide by selecting and purchasing Michigan produced beers.
How homebrewers act as ambassadors to local microbreweries and brew pubs, and doing so much to support the jobs and products of these local businesses.
Microbreweries and Brew Pubs support homebrew clubs in kind with gifts, financial support, and would like to offer space for meetings.
Virtually all commercial microbreweries and brewpubs hire brewers who have learned via homebrewing.
By more closely aligning ourselves with these local merchants, they can continue to be inspired by trends and endeavors in the homebrew community.
Homebrewing competitions are often judged at brewpubs and should not be illegal in the State of Michigan.
Homebrewers are changing the nature of brewing, and striving to save the world’s ancient brewing styles
Let’s pull together and help get these amendments passed. A strong beer culture in the form of a homebrewing community is the underpinning of the thriving craft beer movement in our state, a proven source of entrepreneurship and living wage jobs.

Chris Frey

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