Sen. Jacobsen is pursuing state legislation that would give home brewers a lot more freedom.

Free Beer, Please

Local homebrewers find state laws a bit prohibitive.

Jerome Seipp loves beer. He’s spent 15 years perfecting his recipes for India Pale Ale and Belgian-style brews, and uses “cheers” as a signoff. But he can’t bring his beer to a wedding or even the barbecue next door, as state law allows homebrewers to transport only one gallon out of their house–and even then it’s only supposed to be for the purposes of tasting in a competition or convention.

But that’s not the worst thing about Washington’s rules concerning homemade beer, explains Seipp, Secretary of the Washington Homebrewers Association (WHA). His organization is part of a national group that hosts an annual homebrewer convention and competition. Participating requires far more than a growler or two of your favorite brews, but since participants can’t transport their home brews around this state, the law prevents the WHA from offering Seattle as a host city for the annual beerfest.

So Seipp and his organization turned to state Sen. Ken Jacobsen (D-Wedgwood) for help. Jacobsen is a big fan of the local beer industry. (Last year he unsuccessfully sponsored a measure to allow dogs in bars. Last week, he reintroduced it.) While he has never tried to brew his own beer, the senator loves drinking local microbrews (he’s a big Manny’s fan), which are licensed and regulated by the state Liquor Control Board. Unlike homebrewers, craft brewers can sell out of their breweries, in stores, and on tap at local watering holes. Hence, if homebrewers wanted to sell their beers, they would have to become craft brewers and apply for the corresponding licenses and permits. But as it is now, they can’t even distribute their creations for free.

Over a couple of brews at the Fiddler’s Inn in Wedgwood, Arlen Harris, Executive Director of the Washington Beer Commission, and WHA members asked Jacobsen to raise the limit to 20 gallons and make it legal to pour glasses for friends and family as well as judges and contest organizers. And last week, Jacobsen introduced Senate Bill 5060 to make exactly those changes. The legislation would still prevent homebrewers from actually selling their beer, but just getting the recipes out there is important for the local craft-brewing industry, Jacobsen says.

“If someone’s got an art or skill, I see no reason why they couldn’t [share their creations in larger quantities],” says Jacobsen. “Home brewers are the nursery for the next crop of microbrewers,” he adds.

More in News & Comment

Business alliance serves women of African diaspora in King County

Nourah Yonous launched the African Women Business Alliance in 2017 to find ways to lift women up.

Fire along Twisp River Road in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest in 2018. Courtesy photo
Wildfire response: State unveils funding legislation proposal

Last year, Department of Natural Resources responded to record number of wildfires.

A new report, complete with recommendations to the Legislature, has been released by a statewide task force that was formed to address a lack of child care in Washington. File photo
Report outlines lack of child care in Washington

In King County, supply doesn’t meet demand for child care.

You’ve been hacked! Data breaches in Washington on the rise

But fewer people had personal information compromised from cyberattacks in 2019 compared to 2018.

Demonstrators from La Resistencia protest Amazon’s involvement with ICE. Photo courtesy of La Resistencia
How will the U.S. respond to climate refugees?

Business as usual has been harder borders, are there other ways to address climate migration?

Stolen rescue dog, lost peacock reunited with owners

Federal Way police share emotional reunions after tracking down stolen dog in abandoned home, finding lost peacock.

A young girl holds up a ‘Don’t Pollute I Live Here’ sign in the crowd during the Youth Climate Strike at Cal Anderson Park on Friday, March 15, 2019 in Seattle, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
King County builds blueprint for health, climate change

The plan will inform how the Board of Health addresses climate change-related health issues.

File photo of a pothole
King County approves roads, bridges funding

The capital projects funding is significantly less than previous years.

Safe drug consumption sites have been recommended by the King County Heroin and Opioid Task Force. Pictured is a safe consumption site in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Photo supplied by ARCHES in Lethbridge
What’s been happening with safe injection sites?

There hasn’t been much coverage this year compared to the last couple years.

Most Read