The OLCC v. Homebrewers Continues
A new interpretation of an old law came to light when the Oregon Liquor Control Commission cancelled the homebrew contest at the State Fair, causing quite a stir in the Oregon Beer Community. In fact, I was fielding questions from as far away as North Carolina once news of the issue spread across the country. The problem revolves around the legality of homebrewers being exempt from requiring a manufacturers license when there beer is sampled in a venue other then their home. This essentially limits any home-brewed beer from being tasted or judged anywhere, well, anywhere away from home. As a state that enjoys year-round homebrew competitions, thousands of people are now scratching their heads as to what's legal when it comes to homebrewed beer.
It appears that this look upon the books may have been instigated by Deschutes Brewery checking to make sure if one of their events was compliant under OLCC regulations. Gary Fish, president and founder of Deschutes Brewery says this in a press release issued today: "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 press release went on to talk about Deschutes Brewerys' long-standing relationship with the homebrewing community: "Now it seems that the OLCC has resurrected a dormant law regarding homebrewers, much to the dismay of the brewing community, including Deschutes Brewery. We have always felt that passion for craft beer starts at home and we support homebrewers all across the United States. We are always happy to fulfill homebrewer requests for clone recipes, hops and raffle items for homebrew competitions. We also sponsor the Porter category at the American Homebrewers Association’s National Homebrew Competition each year."
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