From the HBD Archive
From: Marty Albini <>
Subject: a talk with the ABC
Date: 1990-05-18 00:08:01 GMT

At the last meeting of QUAFF, the San Diego homebrew
club, we were privledged to have Jim Sabins, an inspector for
the Alcoholic Beverage Control agency, as guest speaker. Tho
his talk referred mostly to California law, it may be
interesting to residents of the Real World as well.

He gave a brief talk then answered questions from the
audience, and I took notes on what I could hear over the usual
raucous babble of lots of people enjoying good beer.

His agency has responsibility for enforcing about five
thousand (that's 5*10^3) laws. Statewide, there are 225
inspectors, 15 in the San Diego region to patrol around five
thousand license holders.

We discussed license procedures and fees--this was
hopelessly dull and you can get the data elsewhere. He did
point out that brewpubs count as manufacturers, not retailers,
so a lot of laws don't apply to them. For instance, if the ABC
gets community objections to a retail outlet, there's a
hearing, and public objections can scuttle a licenses app. Not
so for a "manufacturer." Also, each new label for an alcoholic
beverage is reviewed by an ABC person in 'Frisco, and the ATF.
He didn't have an answer to questions about why various
brewers aren't allowed to state the alcohol content on the

Of more interest to homebrewers: it is a federal crime
to send alcoholic beverages thru the mail, tho UPS is legal
(UPS apparently has other ideas about the legality). You can
bring your own beverage to a restaraunt, and they can charge
you a corkage fee to serve it to you, if they have a license
to sell that beverage. If they don't, it's questionable, and
ABC has a lot of arbitrary authority. If it's causing a "law
enforcement problem," they can haul you off to jail and/or
revoke licenses.

You can brew up to 200 gal/year if there are >1 adult
in the household, 100 gal/year otherwise. In your own
household, there are no restrictions about who you can serve
it to. The text of the law states that you can transport it
off premesis for competitions, and Jim stated that anything
short of selling it was ok too; the only restriction is age.

Homebrew is supposed to be under %4 alcohol by volume.
If greater, its alcohol content must be labelled on each
container or tap.

He didn't go into any of the really silly laws, and
was interrupted halfway thru by a singing "happy birthday"
telegram to the owner of the local homebrew supply emporium.
He handled himself quite well, and appeared to enjoy the beer.
The agency he works for is not noted for its sense of humor,
by contrast.
- --
________________________________________________Marty Albini___________
"Thank god for long-necked bottles, the angel's remedy."--Tom Petty
phone : (619) 592-4177
UUCP : {hplabs|nosc|hpfcla|ucsd}!hp-sdd!martya
Internet : (or,
CSNET : martya%hp-sdd@hplabs.csnet
US mail : Hewlett-Packard Co., 16399 W. Bernardo Drive, San Diego CA 92127-1899 USA

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