Kansas lawmakers are ready to let the beer flow. The Kansas House recently passed a bill with a vote of 111-7 that would allow home brewers of beer, cider and wine to share their creations with others.
Currently, the state restricts home brewers from making their drinks available to anyone other than the brewer or the brewer’s family. If passed into law, Senate Bill 112 would give home brewers the go-ahead to share their brews with friends and enter competitions in licensed drinking establishments. The bill is supported by state brew clubs.
Home brewer Gregory James, of Basehor, Kan., has been making his own beer for about four years. James said that he was not aware of the bill or that it was even illegal to share brews.
“I can tell you that home brewers have been taking their beers to events to be judged and get together to share some brew,” James said. “I do not belong to a brew club and only make beer for family member consumption. But I have, on occasion, shared some of my beer with a guest at a family gathering, as I am sure many home brewers have done.”
Kansas currently requires brewers to have a state license for producing and distributing alcoholic beverages if they wish to share their drinks or enter into competitions. Both licenses can cost thousands of dollars and must be renewed every two years. The bill would waive that requirement, provided that the home brewers do not sell their brews.
According to the American Homebrewers Association, more than 1 million people in the U.S. brew their own beer. More people are home brewing in Kansas, according to Kris Bruzina, brewer at Little Apple Brewing Company.
“Here locally, there’s definitely an increase in home brewers,” Bruzina said. “It’s not something you’re automatically aware of though.”
Bruzina said he supports the bill and is glad home brewers will be able to share their work with others.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Bruzina said. “It’s not like they’re selling it.”
Although Bruzina is in favor of the bill, he said he does not think it will make much of an economic impact or alter what home brewers are already doing.
“I don’t think it really changes anything,” Bruzina said. “A lot of home brewers already share their brews. Though it’s not to say they’re all doing something illegal.”
Kansas liquor laws have been more restrictive than in other states. In 1881, Kansas became the first state to enforce the prohibition of the sale of alcoholic beverages. Even after the national Prohibition had been repealed in 1933, Kansas maintained a state prohibition until 1948.
Trevor Roediger, K-State 2001 alumnus and home brewer, competes in various home brewing competitions and is certified as a beer judge by the Beer Judge Certification Program. Roediger said he has kept up with news of the bill even though he now lives in Minneapolis, Minn.
“It really doesn’t hurt anybody,” Roediger said. “Serving beer to friends or to take some to a competition is not hurting anyone. You’re not making a profit on it.”
Sharing brews is an important part of home brewing. Other states have revisited their own laws as a result of the increased popularity of home brewing, according to Roediger.
“I know there were a few states that did that, like Oregon,” Roediger said. “Competitions took off, but then the state had to shut them down because it turned out they were illegal.”
Roediger said home brewers could possibly save money in the long run by brewing their own beer.
“It really depends on what you want to drink,” Roediger said. “If you just want to drink a pale lager, you’re better off just buying Budweiser or Miller or something. However, if you like darker beers, it’s cheaper to homebrew. I make a pale ale and it costs me about 50 cents a bottle.”
Passage of the bill could lead to an increase in home brewing in Kansas.
“More people should get into it,” Roediger said. “It’s a great hobby and it’s fun.”