Beer Bill Brews in Missouri Legislature

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beer-news10Homebrewed beers may be allowed to be poured at festivals, competitions and charity events under a bill introduced this week in the Missouri Legislature.

Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 114, which seeks to amend a state statute that says homebrew can only be made for “personal or family use.”

Under Schmitt’s bill, homebrewers still would not be allowed to sell their beer, but they could take it out of their homes and pour it at certain “organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions, such as homebrewer contests, tastings or judging.”

Such events would include beer festivals that have obtained temporary retail licenses as well as at licensed charity events.

The proposed legislation comes after homebrewed beer was unexpectedly banned from last year’s St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival downtown.

The bill, which has not yet been assigned to any Senate committees, would take effect in late August.

Saint Louis Brewery CEO Dan Kopman, who also serves as vice president of the Missouri Small Brewers Guild, says he is pushing to get homebrew back at this year’s Heritage Fest, scheduled to take place over Father’s Day weekend.

“We hope we can get this thing passed in January, February or March,” Kopman said, adding that the bill has a House companion that will be filed soon.

“I don’t know if we’ll be able to get early permission from the state or if something can be done on the city level, but our hope is that home-brewer beer will return to the festival this June.”

Besides the state brewers guild and the St. Louis Brewers Guild, Kopman noted that the Missouri Beer Wholesalers Association and Anheuser-Busch InBev also support the proposed legislation.

“After what happened last year, I started working with all of the stakeholders in the beer business in the state toward getting the law changed,” Kopman said. “We all wanted to make sure we did it right, and I think we did.

“Senator Schmitt said he really wanted to introduce it, and we said great.”

Homebrewers, meanwhile, are keeping their fingers crossed that the bill is enacted.

“Allowing homebrewers to showcase their beers at public events is important because, ultimately, this is where it all starts,” St. Louis homebrewer Matt McGavic says. “From Anheuser-Busch to any of the new breweries opening around town, they all started somewhere.”

Evan S. Benn (@EvanBenn) is the food critic and beer columnist for the Post-Dispatch.