Written by Evan S. Benn for stltoday.com
Hundreds of gallons of beer that were set to be poured this weekend at the sixth annual St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival will have to find a new home after the city’s excise commissioner ruled Monday that serving it at the festival would be illegal.
“We discussed the fact that homebrewers’ beers have been available for patrons to sample at the Heritage Festival as well as other area festivals in the past,” Schlafly CEO Dan Kopman wrote after his meeting with St. Louis Excise Commissioner Robert Kraiberg.Â “While everyone acknowledges the value to our brewing community of having the homebrewed beers available, the fact is that we have concluded it is illegal for us to serve these beers at the Festival.”
Members of local homebrew clubs, including St. Louis Brews, Garage Brewers, East Side Brewers and others, have more thanÂ 1,000 gallons of beer kegged and ready to tap at this weekend’s festival, which runs from Friday through SundayÂ at the Ballpark Village site downtown.
“I’m sitting on 10 gallons of beer that I brewed for this, so this news is pretty disappointing,” says Chip Stone, a Maplewood resident and St. Louis BrewsÂ member. “I’mÂ hoping we don’t have to get laws changed just to pour our beer at festivals.”
But Kopman says that may be theÂ case.
“The good things is, we now have clarity from the Excise Division that homebrewed beers from unlicensed brewers areÂ not legal at paid beer festivals,” he told the Post-Dispatch on Monday night. “TheÂ bad news, of course, is that this was a very cool part of Heritage Festival, and we may have to introduce a bill inÂ the state legislatureÂ or else find another solution.”
Although no homebrewed beer will be served at this year’s Heritage Festival, Kopman saysÂ organizers will honor their agreement to giveÂ a free ticket to any homebrewer whoÂ had committedÂ toÂ donate at leastÂ 5 gallons of beer to the festival.
In addition, he says, organizers will work with the clubs to arrange a free, private gathering where the homebrewers can pour their beers andÂ chat about the hobby with interested, would-be brewers. The personal Twitter handle of a local beer-distribution employee noted late Monday that 4 Hands Brewery would host a homebrew event next month.
“It’s unfortunate that this came up so late,” Kopman says. “We’d like to have a private event for homebrewers, friendsÂ and families. And we’d like to do it soon — because there’s been a lot of beer brewed for this festival.”