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Old 09-22-2013, 01:38 AM   #1
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Default Quasi-legal question about homebrewing in Michigan

Hey hey,

Not sure I'm in the right forum here, but:

My brew-parnter and I are considering renting a light-industrial or warehouse space to move our hobby out of our kitchen, and to get all this equipment out of our apartments. Needless to say, we would not be considering this if either of us owned a house with a garage or something. Suffice it to say, we're looking for an official workspace to hone our skills and take them to the next level.

So, his father is a law professor at (unnamed) university, and prudently suggested that we look into the possible legal issues involving concocting alcoholic beverages in a non-residence, rented space. Anybody got any input on this, for the State of Michigan?

I'm assuming that we're perfectly fine, unless we get good enough to try our hand at selling/distribution, in which case I've already researched the paperwork we'd need to dance through. Never really saw anything addressing this particular question though. Thoughts?

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Old 09-22-2013, 01:59 AM   #2
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You will want to look at Michigan's statutes. Usually it will say something to the effect, "An individual may, without being licensed, manufacture in the individual's personal residence a fermented alcoholic beverage if..."

If you take the brewing off your premises, you'd be violating.

There may also be quirky laws about how much you can transport at any one time.

The law prof should be able to point you to the statutes web page.

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Old 09-22-2013, 02:03 AM   #3
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While Michigan is more lenient than many other states on gifting homebrew, and taking it out of the home (say, to your boat, campsite, cottage, etc), it is very clear that "homebrewing" is to be done in the home.

Statute 436.1207

(b) Beer, wine, mead, honey-based beer, or cider of any alcoholic content made on the premises by the owner or lessee of those premises provided those premises are used and occupied by that owner or lessee as a dwelling and the beer, wine, mead, honey-based beer, or cider is made for family use and home.

So, you see, the "dwelling" part of that is very clear.

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Old 09-22-2013, 02:09 AM   #4
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In addition to statutory issues, there may be contractual ones as well. Carefully read the lease agreement before signing, to make sure there isn't language that may prohibit your activities. The agreement may have language that restricts or limits alcohol use/production, or otherwise impacts your ability to use certain equipment (e.g. burners).

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Old 09-22-2013, 05:29 AM   #5
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Wow, Yooper citing MCL sections. If I weren't already married...

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Old 09-22-2013, 05:57 AM   #6
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Well technically speaking it's not beer unless you pitch yeast. If it is an option take your carboy home, pitch the yeast, and ferment at home. Bring the beer back for racking/bottling. The more feasible option though is, as long as your landlord is cool with it, just brew. Here is what I what I would ask myself....What is the risk of being stopped? and if you are....What are the consequences? You might want to check with local homebrew clubs and/or homebrew shops. They often do brewing sessions in places other than "a dwelling"

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Old 09-22-2013, 12:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Wow, Yooper citing MCL sections. If I weren't already married...
Thanks for making me laugh.
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Old 09-22-2013, 01:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phunhog View Post
Well technically speaking it's not beer unless you pitch yeast. If it is an option take your carboy home, pitch the yeast, and ferment at home. Bring the beer back for racking/bottling. The more feasible option though is, as long as your landlord is cool with it, just brew. Here is what I what I would ask myself....What is the risk of being stopped? and if you are....What are the consequences? You might want to check with local homebrew clubs and/or homebrew shops. They often do brewing sessions in places other than "a dwelling"
While the risk may be low, one thing to point out is that if you're taking the beer back for bottling, then you're violating the "open container" in a vehicle law. I would be hesitant in Michigan to drive around with a 5 gallon carboy of beer. Bottles, no problem. Kegs, again, no problem. But a carboy full of beer, if stopped for speeding or something, would probably be a problem unfortunately.

I know that they have brewdays at a couple of homebrew stores in lower Michigan, one near Detroit and one in Grand Rapids notably, and they may be the ones to contact to find out if they worry about not homebrewing at home.
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Old 09-22-2013, 01:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
While the risk may be low, one thing to point out is that if you're taking the beer back for bottling, then you're violating the "open container" in a vehicle law. I would be hesitant in Michigan to drive around with a 5 gallon carboy of beer. Bottles, no problem. Kegs, again, no problem. But a carboy full of beer, if stopped for speeding or something, would probably be a problem unfortunately.

I know that they have brewdays at a couple of homebrew stores in lower Michigan, one near Detroit and one in Grand Rapids notably, and they may be the ones to contact to find out if they worry about not homebrewing at home.
You're only in violation of a vehicle open container law if the open container is within "the area designed to seat the driver and passengers while the motor vehicle is in operation and any area that is readily accessible to the driver or a passenger while in their seating positions, including the glove compartment." Transporting the open container in a trunk, for example, would fall outside of the statute.

This is the standard in the majority of states (including Michigan and my state of Minnesota), those adhering to the federal Transportation Equity Act. The statute makes no distinction as to what type of alcoholic beverage container is at issue; thus, a carboy would be subject to the statute in the same manner as a 12-ounce bottle.
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Old 09-22-2013, 01:23 PM   #10
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You're only in violation of a vehicle open container law if the open container is within "the area designed to seat the driver and passengers while the motor vehicle is in operation and any area that is readily accessible to the driver or a passenger while in their seating positions, including the glove compartment." Transporting the open container in a trunk, for example, would fall outside of the statute.

This is the standard in the majority of states (including Michigan and my state of Minnesota), those adhering to the federal Transportation Equity Act. The statute makes no distinction as to what type of alcoholic beverage container is at issue; thus, a carboy would be subject to the statute in the same manner as a 12-ounce bottle.
Correct- but I don't think a carboy is going in the trunk. It's probably going into the seat next to someone, with a seatbelt on it (yes I've actually seen that!) or on the floor.
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