American home brewing adapts to the changes in the political and economic climates of the country. Back in the 90s, America had been the top producer of beer. However, with the global recession that is happening now, many companies are closing. Although of course, some argue that as the economy worsens, beer sells more – many get depressed and thus forget their economic woes through the messy route of drinking. Some people, instead of wasting precious money by raking the bars every night, adapt to the situation – and that is by turning towards home made beer.
As was mentioned, American home brewing has been very flexible through time. Back in the old America, home brewing was already a part of colonial lives. Even famous personalities such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were home brew aficionados.
During the prohibition, no one was allowed to brew their own drinks at home. A penalty of one thousand dollars was imposed on those who were caught – and back then one thousand dollars went a long way. Either that or they were sentenced one year imprisonment. Everybody had to content with a watered down lifeless beer – well not really beer but something which was a very poor substitute for it. Nothing substantially alcoholic was allowed and few took efforts in making their drinks less alcoholic but tasty. Thirsty daring beer lovers stealthily bought ingredients and beer brewing equipment. Some very enterprising shop owners found ways of selling them without associating them with beer making or anything about beer at all. Beer ingredients, after all, are as normal as other ingredients – grains, yeast, etcetera, and the equipment – buckets, vats, what really is there to question when they are put up for sale? The situation varied from state to state. In some states, only those selling home brews were caught while in some, brewing for personal consumption also meant facing legal charges. And since ingredients and materials had to be sold and bought discreetly, there really was nothing much to experiment on. Those years could probably be considered the dark ages for home brewing.
In 1935, the law was improvised a bit. Home wine making was allowed without taxes but to brew beer, the interested party must first secure permits and comply with regulations. But despite the heavy regulations, some beer advocates pooled their efforts to promote home brewing. One of the greats in the field, Charlie Papazian first entered the scenario during this time and taught home brewing classes. However, government maintained that unregulated home brewing was still unlawful as any type of brewing could still be employed by moonshiners.
But thankfully, in 1978, Jimmy Carter rescued the doomed souls of beer loving Americans and signed Senate Amendment 3534 allowing households to brew their own beer as long as they don’t go beyond 200 gallons a year. After the lifting of the prohibition on alcoholic beverages, it was home brew beer enthusiasts who worked hard to revive the brewing industry. Today, there are over 1,463 breweries in the United States, a much improved American home brewing state.