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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Had some awesome homebrewed beer tonight!

My brew actually came from a restaurant called Granite City that home brews their own beer. So I was a bit inspired to figure out a little more about Home Brewing and the history of such.

"Homebrewing" typically refers to the brewing of beer and similar alcoholic beverages (and sometimes soft drinks) on a very small scale as a hobby for personal consumption, free distribution at social gatherings, amateur brewing competitions or other assorted generally non-commercial reasons.

History of homebrewing
History of beer

Alcohol has been brewed domestically throughout its 7000-year history.

Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the history of home brewing was circumscribed by taxation and prohibition, largely due to lobbying by large breweries that wished to stamp out the practice. One of the earliest, modern attempts to regulate private production that affected this era was the Inland Revenue Act of 1880 in the United Kingdom; this required a 5-shilling home-brewing license.

In the US, 33 states had prohibited the production of alcohol by 1920. These laws were famously only repealed in 1933 after a period of bootlegging and illegal manufacture gave rise to organised crime. Following the privations of World War II, the cost of the license to citizens still on rationing severely restricted the pursuit of home-brewing as a pastime in the UK.

Liberalization: post 1960

Liberalization began in English-speaking countries in April 1963, when UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Reggie Maudling removed the need for the 1880 brewing license. Australia followed suit in 1972, when Gough Whitlam repealed Australian law prohibiting the brewing of all but the weakest beers and wines as one of his first acts as Prime Minister.

In the US, when prohibition was repealed with the 21st Amendment, home wine-making was legalised. Homebrewing of beer should have also been legalised at this time, but a clerical error omitted the words "and/or beer" from the document which was eventually passed into law. Thus, the home-brewing of beer remained illegal for several decades.

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. However, this bill left individual states free to pass their own laws limiting production. For example, homebrewing is still illegal in the state of Alabama.

Development of the craft

A DIY fermentation vessel for the first fermentation:a regular bucket in which a fermentation lock has been inserted

The opportunity to produce alcoholic beverages at home was seized upon enthusiastically, although brewing cultures developed differently with trends dictated by the legal and commercial situation of the legalised territories at the time.

In the United Kingdom, many pioneers were home winemakers owing to the greater availability of information and ingredients. These included C.J.J. Berry, who founded wine brewing circles in Hampshire and three other English counties; began producing Amateur Winemaker magazine and eventually published First Steps in Winemaking. Perhaps the most vocal proponent of home beer making was Dave Line, who after also writing for Amateur Winemaker wrote The Big Book of Brewing in 1974.

The United States, having an established home winemaking culture, moved rapidly into the brewing of beer. Within months of legalization, Charlie Papazian founded the Association of Brewers. In 1984, Papazian published The Complete Joy of Home Brewing.

This and Line's work remain popular texts to this day alongside later publications such as Graham Wheeler's Home Brewing: The CAMRA Guide.

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