In 1978, the federal government declared home-brewing beer for personal consumption legal and exempt from taxation. However, since the 21st Amendment leaves most regulation of alcohol to the states, brewing your own hooch in Alabama, Mississippi and Oklahoma is still banned outright.
We asked American Homebrewers Association (AHA)
director Gary Glass which places in the United States are most amenable to our nation's estimated 750,000 homebrewers, both in terms of legal issues and the general vibrancy of the homebrewing community. He had some interesting answers ...
According to Glass, the Twin Cities have long been a Mecca for homebrewing. He credits the area with having two top-notch retailers for homebrewing supplies -- Northern Brewer
in St. Paul and Midwest Homebrewing Supplies
in Minneapolis. He also praises the St. Paul Homebrewers Club,
which has been the AHA club of the year for the last three years. We imagine the cold weather, and Minnesotans' need for interesting indoor activities, also contributes to homebrewing's Twin Cities popularity.
Most professional brewers start as homebrewers, and San Diego is where the relationship between the two groups is most symbiotic. "San Diego has a particularly close relationship between the homebrewer and professional craft brewers," Glass told Asylum. "The home brewers are really involved in the commercial beer festivals and the commercial brewers get involved in homebrewing festivals."
New York City
While he wouldn't yet compare it to other places on this list, Glass pegged New York City as a location that has a "growing" homebrewing scene. This isn't all that surprising, given the DIY ethic and food and drink snobbery that many of the young and urbane who gravitate to NYC posses. Sure, a cramped apartment isn't the world's greatest place for a stainless steel fermenter, but we've seen people cram much stranger things into 550 square feet.
Beyond being the home of the AHA and having a crunchy sort of vibe, Colorado has perhaps the most liberal laws in the nation concerning homebrewing. "Colorado law specifically says homebrew can be brought to a licensed brewing facility for the purposes of homebrew competition and organized homebrew events," Bass told us, "while in most states that's probably questionable."
Texas and Florida
Wait, what? Those sunny states seem like the last places homebrewing would flourish. But, as Bass explains, "in California and Colorado there are lots of craft brewers that make flavorful beer, but in Texas and Florida those beers are harder to come by, so the incentive to brew is more about having access to good beer." Homebrewers in Texas and Florida do have to be mindful of the 200-gallon-per-year limit both states impose on basement suds. However, since that amounts to over 2,100 bottles of beer, they can be mindful while enjoying a permanent buzz.
Let us know if we missed any homebrewing Meccas in the comments.