From the OLCC blog:
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission was recently asked whether certain public competitions involving home made alcohol products were in compliance with the law. We provided guidance to the State Fair and other licensees which stated that such competitions were not authorized because they did not fall within the requirements of this statute ORS 471.403 clearly states that the Liquor Control Act (including the requirement for a liquor license) applies except for beer “brewed in the home for home consumption and not for sale”.
In consultation with the Department of Justice, we have received an initial analysis of the statute regulating home brewing (ORS 471.403) which also indicates that the law only allows for consumption of home brews in the home. The home brewers lose their exemption to craft brew without a license when the home brew is consumed outside of the home.
For all you Oregon State Fair-goers, this means no more home brewed creations to tickle your taste buds. From KATU News in Salem:
The irony is the Oregon State Fair has been holding this home brew competition for years under the same law that is now being interpreted to make the competition illegal. And this in a state known for its microbrews. For example, Oregon is the second largest producer of craft beer in the U.S. and Portland alone has more breweries than any other city in the world, according to the Oregon Brewers Guild.
I don’t know what the deal is here. Oregon’s beer culture is one of the largest ways we draw people into this state and provides important stimulus to our depressing financial situation.
Incidentally, this falls right around Sen. Ron Wyden’s announcement that he will be co-sponsoring legislation to reduce craft beer taxes in Oregon, something he hopes to have in place by the end of 2010:
The bill being discussed by Senator Wyden would reduce the excise tax on breweries producing fewer than 2 million barrels a year. The tax would be reduced from $7 to $3.50.
Oregon brewing, responsible for $2.3 billion dollars a year, is an industry that Senator Wyden identified as a key player in getting Oregonians back to work.
It’s interesting to see the different priorities coming from different offices in the state, especially as this ruling from the OLCC and the DOJ is a shift in interpretation from the past 22 years of the home brew competition’s existence. I’m curious to see how it plays into this fall’s elections as well, as I’ve been told that Oregon gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley is all about privatizing liquor distribution in this state. Like Dudley, I have little patience for state agencies that seek to parent said state’s citizens while raking in $172 million a year.