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Old 11-23-2010, 09:24 AM   #1
Brewer_Bob
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Default What constitutes "Personal Use"?

Every now and then a thread pops up here by someone trying to figure out a way to profit from there homebrew without having to register with the TTB. The poster is usually shot down pretty quick and told he can’t get around the law. And then everyone goes back to posting about how much there friends like there beer and who won what in homebrew competitions.

But, to me, it sure looks like the same law that forbids selling your beer also forbids GIVING it to anyone other than family. Is there some sort of case law that I am missing that has clarified this? Let’s look at the law.


Quote:
Sec. 25.205
Production


(a) Any adult may produce beer, without payment of tax, for personal or family use and not for sale. An adult is any individual who is 18 years of age or older. If the locality in which the household is located requires a greater minimum age for the sale of beer to individuals, the adult shall be that age before commencing the production of beer. This exemption does not authorize the production of beer for use contrary to state or local law.

(b) The production of beer per household, without payment of tax, for personal or family use may not exceed:

(1) 200 gallons per calendar year if there are two or more adults residing in the household, or (2) 100 gallons per calendar year if there is only one adult residing in the household.
(c) Partnerships except as provided in Sec. 25.207, corporations or associations may not produce beer, without payment of tax, for personal or family use.


(Sec. 201, Pub. L. 85-859, 72 Stat. 1334, as amended (26 U.S.C. 5053))
Of course States can pass stricter laws, but they can’t pass laxer ones. So I would like to focus on this particular federal law as it affects most of us on this board. It clearly states for personal and family use. What constitutes “personal use”? Does giving a brew to your best friend constitute personal use? Does giving a sixer to a colleague constitute personal use. Does entering your beer in a contest where judges will be drinking it constitute personal use?

I must be missing something because people AREN’T being prosecuted for these things. The police aren’t storming homebrew competitions. Has there been further legislation or case precedent that defines “personal use” as more than one’s own personal consumption?
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Old 11-23-2010, 10:46 AM   #2
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Old 11-23-2010, 11:17 AM   #3
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Federally nothing's change, you have all the laws as stared in those links I gave you. I think it's in State Law were "personal use" is being defined, and those are the ones that prevent homebrew from being transported to meetings, and contests from happening.You'll have to look at the laws in Utah, Arkansas, and I think Texas has some screwey laws that relate to us. Listening to the podcasts on Basic Brewing will give you an idea, at least every 6 months or a year they give a legislation update show.

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Originally Posted by Brewer_Bob View Post
I must be missing something because people AREN’T being prosecuted for these things. The police aren’t storming homebrew competitions.
But occasionally they are shutting down homebrew events, and seizing kegs.

Liquor agents bust campus Homebrew Fest, confiscate 13 kegs


Or the big thing with the Alabama Homerbrewer, who may or may not have been distilling.

So persecution does happen. Just not on a huge, prohibition era scale, but that's not to say it couldn't happen. The FDA is always shutting down things like alcohol/caffeine drinks, and that crap that kids are smoking for a "legal high" If there's enough hysteria the government will take action. There's always a low level of hysteria where booze is concerned. MADD actually has a huge pr machine and that can swy popular opinion, and they are good lobbyist, interntationally. It wouldn't be too much of a stretch to think that if our country went dry again, they'd love it.

Look what may be happening in Canada; DUI legislation may expand to allow random breathalyzer tests

No probable cause would be necessary to be forced to breath into a tube.


So it's a fine line we tread. And you're right, the vague definitions don't really help.
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Old 11-23-2010, 12:15 PM   #4
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Well I'll make a guess and say that the legal definition of personal use is just that, personal.

However, I also think its not unreasonable to assume that because this law does not clearly define personal as "the individual producing the beer" that personal use could also include "personally giving some beer away".

The law doesn't say you can freely give away beer to everyone but I'm sure if it became a big enough event, that you might run into a problem. (Like the article Revvy linked - although it seemed to be more about the selling of, not the giving away of the beer)

Realistically though, I doubt the Feds are concerned with individuals giving away beer to non-family people. Perhaps it's purposely vague or maybe the word "personal" was just thrown in there to make the majority of home brewers think twice about distributing free beer on a large scale?

Thats my two cents anyways.

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Old 11-23-2010, 12:22 PM   #5
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As was mentioned, the federal law is pretty broad and undefined. Some of the states laws are much more strict. In Michigan, we're allowed to give away beer and the amount per person that we're allowed to give is defined in the law. In some states (Oregon), they've recently interpreted the law to say that "homebrew" must be consumed and not removed from the "home" where it legally originated. That means you can't even take it to your campsite, or your own cottage or boat.

But the federal law doesn't define these issues. As long as you stayed under 200 gallons per year (if you have two adults in the house) and don't sell it, you should be ok. You couldn't make tons of it, and charge people, either because that would not be "personal use", at least the way I read it.

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Old 11-23-2010, 01:59 PM   #6
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The law is broad, the definitions are purposefully vague, this allows the "authorities" to bust people if and when they feel like it, this is how police states operate.

The feds aren't "concerned" about you giving away beer to non family members or selling it. They simply want a cut of your profits through taxation (theft) and licensing, and most importantly they want control over you.

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Old 11-23-2010, 02:02 PM   #7
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I'm not sure about beer, but I did find this section describing home-made wine. I have to imagine that would be sufficient case law to expand "personal use" to this definition. The general consensus seems to be that "personal use" and non-commercial use are almost synonymous.

Quote:
TITLE 27--ALCOHOL, TOBACCO PRODUCTS AND FIREARMS

CHAPTER I--ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO TAX AND TRADE BUREAU, DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

PART 24_WINE--Table of Contents
(f) Removal. Wine produced under this section may be removed from the premises where made for personal or family use including use at organized affairs, exhibitions or competitions, such as home winemaker's contests, tastings or judgings, but may not under any circumstances be sold or offered for sale. The proprietor of a bonded wine premises shall pay the tax on any wine removed for personal or family use in excess of the limitations provided in this section and shall also enter all quantities removed for personal or family use on TTB F 5120.17, Report of Bonded Wine Premises Operations. (Sec. 201, Pub. L. 85-859, 72 Stat. 1331, as amended (26 U.S.C. 5042))
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Old 11-23-2010, 02:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
North Carolina Chapter 18B, Article 3, §18B-306 permits an individual to make, possess, and transport native wines and malt beverages for his own use and for the use of his family and guests.
woo hoo! ;D
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Old 11-23-2010, 02:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RuddurBall View Post
I'm not sure about beer, but I did find this section describing home-made wine. I have to imagine that would be sufficient case law to expand "personal use" to this definition. The general consensus seems to be that "personal use" and non-commercial use are almost synonymous.
How current is this? SInce 9-11 ATF spun off Alcohol to the TTB to concentrate on weapons in the war on terror. That may be an outdated definition.
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Old 11-23-2010, 02:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
How current is this? SInce 9-11 ATF spun off Alcohol to the TTB to concentrate on weapons in the war on terror. That may be an outdated definition.
April 2006. Here is the link.

http://www.ttb.gov/wine/24_75.htm
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