Legislators are considering a bill that would help Iowans who are a bit competitive about the beer they brew in their own home.
It’s illegal for Iowans to enter their home brews in exhibitions or competitions because state law says beer brewed at home is for personal consumption only. Senator Liz Mathis, a Democrat from Robins, says that means the judges in a competition can’t sample home brews made in Iowa.
“What the new bill shows is that you could be able to take some of your home-brewed beer and leave your home and take it to this exhibition or festival and allow judges to sample it,” Mathis says. “What it doesn’t allow for is for that home-brewed beer to be sold in mass quantities.”
Alabama is the only state in the union where brewing beer at home is illegal. Home brewing is a growing hobby in the United States. Membership in the American Homebrewers Association has quadrupled in the past seven years.
“I think even President Obama has talked about home brew beer,” Mathis says.
The White House chefs have bottled an ale and a porter, using honey harvested from the White House garden. A long time ago, Mathis wanted to try her hand at beer brewing.
“Back in 1976, there were five of us in a bio chem class and we were wondering if we might be able to try something like that, but were deterred by our teacher saying, ‘You probably shouldn’t try that.’ You know the drinking age was 18 back then,” Mathis says, laughing, “so we were very inquisitive and curious but, no, we didn’t go ahead with the plans.”
The bill to let home brewers enter their beers in competitions has unanimously passed both the Iowa House and the Senate, but senators made a slight change that must be approved by the House before the legislation can go to Governor Branstad for his signature.