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Old 11-22-2010, 11:32 AM   #1
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Default FEDERAL laws regarding homebrewing

Alright, this might be a unique spin on a common question here. I am searching online and can’t find anything concrete (maybe because there isn’t anything?) Hoping you guys can help out.

Are there any US FEDERAL laws regulating the production and selling of homebrew? Because I am stationed overseas I am not bound by any US STATE law. And because I am a diplomat I am not bound by my host country’s law. I am, however, bound by US federal law and US federal law only. So I am trying to determine what I can’t do with my homebrew under federal law.

Here is the thing. My homebrew has become very popular. Other diplomats are wanting to buy batches from me for both personal and official use. Official use being officially hosted events. Now, I am new to brewing so I welcome the excuse to brew more. But since I have to mail order EVERYTHING I use in home brewing, it can become pricey. What I would like to do is to sell my beer to these diplomats at COST. Absolutely no profit. I am not permitted to use my government quarters to run a business or to use my position as a diplomat to make a profit. I will not charge for my time, only for supplies and shipping. So I reiterate: NO PROFIT.

So what I am trying to determine is if there is a federal law against taking money for homebrew, even if it is not for profit. And if there is a limit to how much can be brewed.

I searched the wiki and got this:

Quote:
Federal law
In November 1978, Congress passed a bill repealing Federal restrictions on the homebrewing of small amounts of beer. Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, signed the bill into law in February 1979, and many states soon followed suit. There is currently no federal law against homebrewing as long as you stay within the legal limit with regards to quantity.

The current federal limit on homebrewing beer is 100 gallons for a single adult, or 200 gallons for a household with two or more adults. Adult here is defined as 21 years of age or older.
Starting with the limit of homebrew allowed. Based on that limit my household is allowed 200 gallons. So does that include the gallons of beer you give away?

and on selling:

Quote:
Restrictions on sales
The federal law, and some state laws, also restrict what you can do with your homebrew. Every state forbids the commercial sale of homebrew, but there may be additional restrictions on what you can do with your homebrew depending on where you live.

Does every state forbid it because every state has a law against it or is it because there is a federal law against it? And does me being reimbursed for supplies and shipping constitute “commercial sell”?

I have been googling and just can’t find specifics on federal law other than the vague guidelines I pasted above. I am NOT trying to find some loop hole, just the facts. And if the fact is it is against federal law for me to sell my homebrew at cost then I won’t do it. And more importantly, I will be able to tell my fellow diplomats exactly why I have to say no.

And before anyone says I should be asking a lawyer instead of guys on a message board, don’t worry, I will get permission through the proper channels before doing this. I just wanted to do my own due diligence before going to them. Thanks.
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Old 11-22-2010, 11:41 AM   #2
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Diplomatic immunity is a beautiful thing. Unless Riggs and Murtaugh are on your trail.....

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Old 11-22-2010, 11:45 AM   #3
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I suggest you send them a link to what you need and have them order the materials and have it sent to yours house. This would be the "cleanest" method for you to get the ingredients and not worry about the laws. IANAL but it is my understanding that the ingredients become beer once you pitch the yeast.

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Old 11-22-2010, 12:06 PM   #4
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Seriously, this is an interesting situation, and most likely a tricky one. Unless you are brewing in the embassy, which is sovereign US soil, I don't know that the regulations would apply to your place of residence in another country.....

But I know very little about such things, so call someone in the ATF to get the correct answer.

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Old 11-22-2010, 12:16 PM   #5
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I was gonna suggest what daugenet suggested, have them buy the ingredients and supplies. Just give them a list of what's needed for a particular batch, have them order it, and when you receive it, brew away.

As for the amount, I believe that it's the total amount brewed, regardless if it's for personal consumption or "gifts". But then again, who's counting?

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Old 11-22-2010, 12:22 PM   #6
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This is an easy question. You may not sell beer without a license from the TTB.

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Old 11-22-2010, 12:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by remilard View Post
This is an easy question. You may not sell beer without a license from the TTB.
Does that apply to activities on foreign soil?
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Old 11-22-2010, 12:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daugenet View Post
I suggest you send them a link to what you need and have them order the materials and have it sent to yours house. This would be the "cleanest" method for you to get the ingredients and not worry about the laws. IANAL but it is my understanding that the ingredients become beer once you pitch the yeast.
Having them order the supplies might not be a bad idea. It would avoid the whole exchanging of money. It still leaves me with the question of whether or not I am limited to the 200 gallons if it isn’t being consumed by people in my household.
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Old 11-22-2010, 12:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hartski View Post
Seriously, this is an interesting situation, and most likely a tricky one. Unless you are brewing in the embassy, which is sovereign US soil, I don't know that the regulations would apply to your place of residence in another country.....

But I know very little about such things, so call someone in the ATF to get the correct answer.
A diplomat’s person, residence, and (to a lesser extent) vehicle are protected.
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Old 11-22-2010, 12:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hartski View Post
Does that apply to activities on foreign soil?
Hmm, it is a federal agency so I think it would apply to US diplomats on foreign soil as we are still subject to US federal law. Of course then you could end up nitpicking what constitutes selling.

I don’t want to do such nitpicking. I have grown fairly fond of my security clearance and don’t want to avoid even the semblance of impropriety. No, I thinkthe way to go is to have them order the supplies, give me the supplies, I make the beer, and then give them back the beer. In my opinion tat doesn’t even skirt the line.
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