A recent ruling by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) has put a stop to any homebrew competition or homebrew gathering. They interpret the law, which refers to “home consumption,” to mean just that: consumption in a home, which means you make it in your home and you drink it in your home. They now consider carrying a six-pack to a party, holding a competition, or any other way of consuming homebrew to violate the state’s law.
Before you fire off the vitriolic letter or email, filled with rude and abusive things, consider a few points. Oregon is ground zero for the craft beer revolution. They have a thriving craft beer industry. All three tiers—supplier, wholesaler and retailer—have strong, supportive relationships, based on recognizing the value of craft beer to the beer industry and the state community. And to a person, I’m betting they understand the role homebrewing plays in developing this idyllic beer world.
All of this is why I can say, “probably not for long.” If the powers that be interpret the OLCC’s ruling as a need for clarification and sit down with the appropriate industry and elected officials, and work on revising the legal language, I’m pretty convinced this will go away. Ten or twenty years ago, this could have been a dogfight, but not today. The beer revolution is here to stay and all sectors of the industry and the government know it.
Cool heads need to prevail and reasonable discussions are the call of the day. Clarifying language, not storming the halls, will probably solve this conundrum and we can all get back to continuing to build a better beer world.