Oregon’s homebrew community is in shock after the Oregon Liquor Control Commission resurrected an old law that forbids homebrewers from consuming their product anywhere other than where they brewed it. This has caused the closer of homebrew contests around the state and at various fairs.
It turns out that the issue may have come to light when Deschutes Brewing Company employees called the OLCC about the legality of a homebrew event on the brewery’s premise.
Here’s Deschutes Brewing Company owner Gary Fish’s explanation:
“The real story is that Deschutes Brewery contacted the OLCC to ensure that a homebrewers forum we were planning during American Craft Beer Week was legal. Given the rules we are bound to as licensee of the OLCC and as a responsible member of the brewing community, we always want to make sure that we understand the intricacies of the OLCC’s regulations. After a three-minute conversation with an OLCC representative, we were told that the agency would call us back with further information. This never happened, and the planned event was dropped as a result.
“The bottom line is that we were attempting to create an event celebrating homebrewing, and our roots in this culture. We were never contacted by any media outlets to clarify this story and the reasons for our inquiry. We hope that these OLCC laws will change in the near future, as recent coverage has suggested, and that homebrewers can continue to share their creations with the world.” – Gary Fish
Here is what I think. These ridiculous laws need to come to light. Without being aware of the laws, no one has any idea of how to work with the law or how to figure out how to change the law. The folks from Deschutes were covering their collective butts, which is a good thing. That it led to restrictions on homebrewers is unfortunate. However, now the lawmakers in Oregon that are promising change can focus in on these hangers on and change them.
Lesson for Montana: Well, this is where it gets sticky. Do you just not call for fear of awakening law enforcement, or do we explore the full Montana beer law to see if we can modernize it? I tend to lean toward the second. Let’s explore the full beer law and lobby for change instead of waiting around to see if someone will find that obscure law that could shut us down.