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OREGON BREWERS FESTIVAL...a little background!
The Oregon Brewers Festival is back in town...Portland Metro area young people are learning to drink good quality beer...again. Those of us that are not that young know good beer and we love this festival too. Yesterday this advanced aged beer lover headed downtown for an afternoon of relaxed tasting along with a horde of young people from around the metro area.
Because my husband is a home brewer, I am interested in the micro-brew scene and several blogs I have written recently talked about micro-breweries and Portland's propensity for all things beer. It has become big business so our brew fest is a big draw for brewers from across the country. Up until now the brewers have lived in peace it seems, sharing knowledge and applauding each others success. Micro-breweries compete annually at our brew fest on the Willamette River water front in Tom McCall Park.
Even home brewers were included in the love fest that spread around the state like wild fire. Supplies are readily available and home brewers have become so sophisticated that it is hard to tell the micro-brew from the "homemade stuff". We were operating in a free wheeling style and have been for quite a while. Our Oregon State Fair in Salem attracted sophisticated home brewers to compete for ribbons and a little money. If you love to brew beer, this was where you could go each August and strut your stuff. Everyone was happy until someone blew the whistle. Note: It is not legal to brew wine or anything else without a license from the state but beer was exempted from that law.
THEN IT GOT VERY WEIRD
The fair could have been what caused the uproar...I am not really sure. Maybe the competition at the fair encouraged more home brewers thus cutting consumption at the local brew pubs. Or maybe home brewers were carrying beer to events sponsored by the micro-brew company. I know we have carried bottles of beer to location outside our home. I'm not going to say where but vendors of beer would not necessarily have been happy. (There may have even been signs but we did not notice them!) No one said anything and I think we were going on the premise that it is better to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission. Whatever it was, I suspect that these practices were cutting into the big business revenues.
So within the last few weeks our newspaper reported that a major micro-brew company wrote to the state asking for a ruling on home brewers sharing beer outside their homes and in competition! It turns out a very old law that may date back to prohibition bans the transporting of home brewed beer...anywhere.
"Is it illegal to go to your neighbors and let them taste test? By the letter of the law, yeah," said Mark Jaehnig of the OLCC. But Jaehnig says it's only possible because that's how the department of justice sees it. Which the OLCC views as a glitch law. Which home brewers like Neal hope can be worked resolved by new legislation sooner than later. (Home Brewers Fear Breaking Long-Standing Oregon Law | KEZIWHAT DOES THIS MEAN...well here you have it folks. The beer competition at the Oregon State Fair has been deemed illegal and will not be featured this year or any year soon unless the state legislature sees fit to change the old law. The lawmakers will not be in session until January of 2011.
So I should not take my beer next door and I should not take a case of it to Arizona to share with friends...not if I am going to follow that letter of the law mindset and am a law abiding citizen. Home brewers could be asked to tow the line and all things beer in the Portland Metro and around the state may not be a love fest anymore. What are you going to do? Darn!