North Carolina Homebrewers Alliance (NCHA) is a division of the Beer Army Foundation, a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit community outreach organization and is governed by a committee of homebrewers and Operation Liberate Homebrew is a homebrewers reform Bill that has currently passed the State Senate and is now in the State House of Representatives for approval.
Educate lawmakers and the general public in the great State of North Carolina on the benefits and economic impact that a thriving statewide homebrew community can provide; make it legal to share, sample and consume homebrew at public and charitable events; and legalize homebrew contests and meetings.
Unify all North Carolina homebrewers regardless if they are affiliated with a homebrew club or not. Provide a unified "voice" when engaging state legislatures and fellow citizens. Legalize homebrew contests, meetings and the sharing, sampling and consumption of homebrew at public and charitable events by the end of 2017.
if you do not stand for something
you will fall for anything
Before looking at the effective laws, it is important to see how North Carolina defines certain terms that involve brewing.
Alcoholic beverage: any beverage containing at least one-half of one percent (0.5%) alcohol by volume, including malt beverages, unfortified wine, fortified wine, spirituous liquor, and mixed beverages.
-N.C. Gen. Stat. § 18B-101(4)
Malt beverage: beer, lager, malt liquor, ale, porter, and any other brewed or fermented beverage except unfortified or fortified wine, containing at least one-half of one percent (0.5%), and not more than fifteen percent (15%), alcohol by volume. Any malt beverage containing more than six percent (6%) alcohol by volume shall bear a label clearly indicating the alcohol content of the malt beverage.
-N.C. Gen. Stat. § 18B-101(9)
Keg: a portable container designed to hold and dispense 7.75 gallons or more of malt beverage.
-N.C. Gen. Stat. § 18B-101(7c)
Sale: any transfer, trade, exchange, or barter, in any manner or by any means, for consideration. (“For consideration” means you have to get something in return for it. Donating is not selling.)
-N.C. Gen. Stat. § 18B-101(13)
Now that you understand the definitions, you can move on to what you can and can't do. Failing to comply with the requirements in these statutes is illegal and you can be fined and/or possibly imprisoned for being in violation. The laws are given, word-for-word, below.
[The bold text provides commentary]
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 18B-102. Manufacture, sale, etc., forbidden except as expressly authorized.
(a) General Prohibition – It shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell, transport, import, deliver, furnish, purchase, consume, or possess any alcoholic beverages except as authorized by the ABC law. [This is where the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission gets its authority.]
(b) Violation a Class 1 Misdemeanor – Unless a different punishment is otherwise expressly stated, any person who violates any provision of this Chapter shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. In addition the court may impose the provisions of… (various provisions listed). [The baseline punishment for violating these rules is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of 120 days in jail and a discretionary fine. Other crimes subject to this level of misdemeanor include possession of drug paraphernalia, larceny, possession of stolen goods, damaging real or personal property, communicating threats, and prostitution. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.23]
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 18B-104. Administrative Penalties. [This section applies to professional brewers and breweries who have licenses and permits, not homebrewers.]
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 18B-105. Advertising. [Bottom line – don’t advertise homebrew.]
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 18B-206. Standards for Alcoholic Beverages.
(a) Authority to Set Standards. The Commission may set standards and adopt rules for malt beverages… [This basically says the ABC has authority to set standards for beverages in the interest of protecting the public from beverages “unfit for consumption.”]
(b) Testing. The Commission may test malt beverages… [This grants the ABC authority to test beverages possessed or offered for sale in North Carolina. It would be administratively inefficient for them to test all homebrew, but theoretically, they could.]
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 18B-306. Making Wines and Malt Beverages for Private Use. An individual may make, possess, and transport native wines and malt beverages for his own use and for the use of his family and guests. (We have cut out the definition of native wines) Malt beverages may be made by use of malt beverage kits containing grain extracts or concentrates. Wine kits and malt beverage kits may be sold in this State. No ABC permit is required to make beverages pursuant to this section. [This is the statute that gives a resident of North Carolina the right to homebrew. While it appears you can only brew from kits, that is widely interpreted to mean you can brew from any ingredients you choose to use. The key rule here is that homebrew can only be given to family and guests and this explicitly makes selling homebrew illegal.]
Note: The rest of Chapter 18B is applicable to wineries, breweries, and distilleries. The rules apply to those with permits, but not to those who homebrew.
The final result desired are three things and they are:
1. Raise awareness among law makers and the homebrewing community regarding the current state laws and regulations which affect homebrew and homebrewers in North Carolina.
2. Obtain verification from relevant state agencies that homebrew may be produced and utilized for educational demonstration, tastings, competitions and meetings.
Note: Federal regulations 27 CFR 25.206 states “…homebrew may be used at organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions such as homemaker’s contests, tastings or judging.”
3. Lobby for the amendment of current legislation as necessary to safeguard the rights of North Carolina homebrewers to include homebrew contests and meetings; and to enable homebrewed beer to be donated to non-profit fundraisers in North Carolina for tastings, samplings, judging, demonstrations and contests.
NOTE: OLH does not seek to legalize the sale of homebrew.
This is a copy of the proposed bill in PDF format that we are soliciting support for in the state legislature.
Here is a quick overview of the proposed OLH bill broken down by section:
Section 1 - Expanded Malt Beverage Permit to include Homebrew Club Meetings.
Section 2 - Authorizes homebrew judging, educational events, tastings, exhibitions, competitions, etc.
Section 3 - Expanded Special Occasion Pemrit to allow homebrew, meads, wines, etc. at public events run by nonprofit groups.
Section 4 - Expanded Limited Special Occasion Permit to allow homebrew, meads, wines, etc.; also says you don't need the homebrew permit if you have this permit.
Section 5 - Formalizing homebrew competitions by establishing the process and a $50 fee for Homemade Alcoholic Beverage Competition and Sampling Permit.
It is our intent to successfully submit this proposed and get legislative support in 2017, during the "long" legislative session.
Senate Bill 604
VICTORY!!! Well, we still have a long ways to go but on 4 April 2017, State Senator Norman Sanderson submitted our proposed legislation now known as S.B. 604 - Homemade Alcoholic Beverage Tasting Permit. You can view, save and print this bill at the button below. If you are an North Carolina resident, then call, email, etc. your State Senator and tell them to support S.B. 604.
On 27 June 2017, S.B. 604 was successfully passed by the NC State Senate and was received by the House on 28 June 2017. Time for round 2, with the goal of getting this bill through the House and signed by the governor. Thanks to all who have supported so far.
If you are interested in learning more or being kept informed of new developments in regards to Operation Liberate Homebrew, then please fill out the contact form below. Also consider joining the Operation Liberate Homebrew Facebook group page.