According to the American Homebrewers Association, at least one million Americans brew beer in their homes each year. As of July 1, 2013, the laws of all 50 states appear to allow homebrewing in some form, either through clearly allowing the practice or by not explicitly banning it. The last two states to legalize homebrewing were Mississippi and Alabama earlier this year. Many people in those states had been homebrewing for years without even realizing they were breaking the law. It’s hard to fathom, but homebrewers in both of those states had to overcome strong opposition just to get a hobby legalized that we take for granted in Indiana.

Because of Prohibition, homebrewing was made illegal under federal law in 1919 and it wasn’t until 1979 that homebrewing was legalized at the federal level. Federal Law allows for the production of homebrew so long as the homebrewer doesn’t sell it. Additionally, the law imposes a limit of 200 gallons a year in a house with two adults, and 100 gallons a year in a house with just one adult. The law also allows anyone age 18 or older to brew beer. However, under the 21st Amendment, this law is subject to state laws regarding alcohol control. Thus, because no state allows persons under 21 to possess alcohol, this becomes the de facto national age at which it is legal to brew beer.

Since federal law allows room for each state to regulate homebrewing in their own way, we see a lot of diversity in homebrewing laws across the country. Alabama forbids convicted felons from brewing beer. In Oklahoma, homebrewers are required to purchase a permit prior to brewing. Idaho demands homebrewers use ingredients native to the state in their brews. So where does that leave the homebrewer in Indiana?

Homebrewing is explicitly legal in Indiana, and regulated by a common sense statute. Found in Indiana Code 7.1-1-2-3, the manufacture of beer or wine that is not for sale, and used only for specific purposes, is perfectly legal. Those purposes include: personal or family use, use in the home of the person that produced it, use at organized affairs or exhibitions, critiques, educational seminars, and competitions.

The Indiana statute also allows for the transportation of homebrew largely without limitation. This is an important development, as the transport of homebrewed beer was illegal in Indiana prior to the addition of this permissive language in the law. Additionally, homebrew can be taken onto premises that have a valid liquor license and then used for any of the purposes outlined above.

In a world of often complex legislation, such as the expungement laws described in my last blog post, it’s reassuring to know that our state chooses to regulate homebrewing in a straightforward manner. With more people than ever brewing their own beer, states owe it to their citizens to take a practical approach to homebrew regulation. Homebrewing is a fun and largely easy hobby for people of legal drinking age to explore, but if you do decide to homebrew, please remember to enjoy your homemade libations responsibly.

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