MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed legislation into law Thursday to allow people to make beer and wine at home starting immediately, making the state the last to act to legalize the hobby.
Bentley spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis said the governor, who doesn't drink alcohol, had no comment on the new law.
The Legislature passed the bill Tuesday after five years of grassroots lobbying by home brewers to get their hobby out of the shadows.
"It's a glorious day because for the first time since Prohibition, all 50 states will allow hobbyist home brewing," said Brant Warren of Huntsville, a member of the Right to Brew organization.
The American Homebrewers Association estimates there are 1 million home brewers nationwide, with about 5,000 of them in Alabama. State law previously banned individuals from owning equipment to make alcohol. The state liquor control agency had cracked down on the retail sale of equipment, but not on home brewers.
Alabama and Mississippi had been the last states to ban home brewing, but Mississippi passed a law in March. Megan McCourt, a spokeswoman for the American Homebrewers Association, said Mississippi's law has a 90-day delay before it takes effect, which means Alabama's law actually goes into effect first.
The Alabama law allows home brewers to make 15 gallons of beer or wine every three months. Warren said that is less than most states allow, but it was necessary to get enough support in the Legislature to pass the bill. The law allows home brewers to take their products to tastings and competitions, but they can't sell it.
The bill drew opposition from the church-based Alabama Citizen Action Program. Executive Director Joe Godfrey said the bill marked the latest in a series of measures passed by the Legislature to increase access to alcohol, and he predicted it will lead to more alcoholism.
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