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Oregon Brewing Clubs Get Screwed

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

This sucks! Home brew clubs in Oregon are no longer allowed to have home brew at their meetings! Public beer and wine competitions, like those commonly held at the state and county fairs are now considered illegal too. What a bummer for us home brewers… The clubs can live on, but they have to be ‘dry’. Takes all the fun out of it, and the chance to learn and share about brewing (which is the whole point). The Oregon law had been on the books for 30 years, but it was not enforced or interpreted in this way until now.

no home brew

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) and the Oregon Department of Justice have decided to shut down beer and wine competitions, and remove home brew from home brew clubs. Excerpt from the law:

‘No person shall brew, ferment, distill, blend or rectify any alcoholic liquor unless licensed so to do by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. However, the Liquor Control Act 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 problem with the competitions and home brew clubs is, the home brew is taken out of the home, and then consumed by the ‘public’. Sounds down right naughty doesn’t it?? People, sharing home brew and discussing it?? Under the law, even though the home brew is not sold, it is still illegal to have members of the ‘public’ drink the home made alcoholic beverages. Judges are considered members of the public under the new interpretation as well.

This means it is illegal to drink home brew anywhere in Oregon, except at home.

In order to get home brew clubs, and beer/wine competitions going again, the state legislature would have to amend the law. Oregon has some pretty big budget items to address this year, so we can only hope for the best.

Interestingly enough, competitions for canned preserves, pies, etc are still legal at fairs. It is the mystique of alcohol that causes all the trouble for brewers and vintners. If the argument is for public safety, there are more dangerous strains of diseases in improperly canned foods than in a bad batch of home brew.

For the clubs in Portland, Oregon that are impacted, I predict new brewing clubs will be formed just over the river in Vancouver, Washington!

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  1. 12 Responses to “Oregon Brewing Clubs Get Screwed”

  2. In Michigan, you can’t legally bring alcohol into the serving areas of places licensed to serve alcohol. That means, effectively, you can’t have homebrew club meetings at the brewery. The club I belong to gets around this by having their meetings at people’s homes.

    From your excerpt of the law I would guess that homebrew clubs could legally do the same thing. I don’t know how you could fit an entire competition into someone’s home though…

    By George Hotelling on Jul 1, 2010

  3. Just another slap in the face by legislation aimed at law abiding American citizens. If they can’t tax it, its against their laws. And to think of all that crappy commercial beer sold at sporting venues known to be directly related to the losing fans creating large scale public and domestic violence. Now that kind of public drinking ought to be banned. But that involves common sense. And it is common sense the law makers lack in extensive and meaningful capacity. What’s needed here is a coalition of home brew folks challenging the legislature in proving these competitions are detrimental to society. If proven so, then all public venues should ban the sale and consumption of beer.

    By Zeke on Jul 3, 2010

  4. I live in Salem, Oregon and was informed that this was a possibility by the owner of my LHBS. He seemed to think it would all blow over and that they would re-write or re-interpret the law. I hope he’s right! I was asked by a friend to brew 30 gallons for his wedding and Ive already got it all done. I wonder if I will get busted for serving my beer in public!

    By Kurtis on Jul 5, 2010

  5. If the wedding is at a house, just say it was brewed there, and you might be within the law (but this is not legal advice). I would not tell the guests about where the beer came from.

    By Larry on Jul 5, 2010

  6. I wonder if the megaswill breweries(AB, Miller/Coors, etc…) had anything to do with this.

    By Fascists on Jul 5, 2010

  7. I was reading about this too… it sucks that they re-interpret the law after 30 years…

    I know AHS is also going to be getting involved…

    By Jorge on Jul 14, 2010

  8. I wonder if consumption by the club members would be considered public. I am guessing the local club has membership fees and can meet at someones private residence. It could be a little loophole but hopefully someone has looked at that.

    I live in Texas and there are several dry counties. The way around this is to join a “club” at one of the restaurants which usually has a small membership fee (about $5.00). You can then drink to your hearts content as well as purchase booze to take home.

    Hopefully this won’t last long for you. There is some great beer in Oregon!

    By Tom on Oct 3, 2010

  9. There should be some sort of organized effort to get this changed, but I haven’t seen one yet. Does anyone know how a local homebrewer can help support the cause? I’m on the west side of Portland and it’s really cratering the clubs over here, not to mention my ability to share with friends. 🙁

    By Keith on Jan 21, 2011

  10. I imagine it would take lawyers and politicians who are up for the battle. Perhaps some well placed articles in the Oregonian would bring light to the issue.

    By Larry on Jan 21, 2011

  11. Great news, this issue as been resolved!

    Check out:

    By Larry on Mar 5, 2011

  12. your liberties being taken away by one

    By jim on Oct 31, 2011

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