Law could stifle homebrewer meetings, events

Homebrewers face challenges.

THOUSAND PALMS, Calif. - A newly amended state law could have a huge impact on homebrewers, a growing community in our valley.  AB 1425 was signed into law on October 1 and went into effect on the first of the year.  It could keep homebrewers from sharing their recipes with others like them and improving.  

Each year, more than 2,000 homebrewers from all over gather for the Southern California Homebrew Festival.  It's an opportunity to test, share and spread the word about homebreaking.  "All of them are very open armed in terms of sharing their knowledge and skills," said Chris Anderson, the brewmaster at Coachella Valley Brewing Company.   

The festival's future is now in jeopardy.  The amended law was meant to help homebrewers share their product, but it's actually hurting them.  The law allows the movement of homemade beer and wine for personal use, competition and donation to non-profits.  But, excludes non-profits that "promote home production of beer or wine, or whose membership is composed primarily of home brewers or home winemakers."  The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control or ABC interprets the changes to mean the festival and others like it are illegal.  "It would really be a wicked thing for the ABC to do to you know, basically make this event not happen anymore," said Brett Newton, the president of the Coachella Valley Homebrew Club.  

While the festival only runs two days in May, beer enthusiasts say its impact lasts much longer. "The reason a lot of this businesses started up is home brewers moved into doing commercial brewing so it's a way to create jobs too, that's kind of how it goes," said David Humphrey, the CEO of Coachella Valley Brewing Comapny.  

The California Homebrewers Association plans to continue a letter-writing campaign and has also gained the support of Assemblyman Brian Nestande in hopes of keeping their festival alive. "I'm hoping with the help of Nestande, we'll quickly see some sort of change or amendment in this to help the ABC back away," said Newton.  

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