First, Oregonian homebrewers will shortly face increased restrictions on their hobby. In a nutshell, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) has decided to “reinterpret” an old law which forbids the production of booze by anyone not licensed by them. While homebrewing is still perfectly legal (it’s a Federally protected right), the new interpretation restricts consumption of homebrew to the brewer’s house. In other words, no more “Homebrew Clubs” where hobbyists congregate to share their creations. More importantly, no more homebrewing competitions which are a popular and well-attended diversion in Oregon. The article notes that the Oregon State Fair has held a homebrewing competition for 22 years which is now in danger of being canceled because of the OLCC’s new approach.
While the new interpretation of the law sounds frustrating, it appears that state legislators are planning on changing the law ASAP. Oregon lawmakers seem to understand how important the brewing industry is to their state (as opposed to, say, Alabama lawmakers). The article quotes two legislative hopefuls on either side of the aisle who are committed to changing the law during the next session.
The second story is a bit sadder. Roots…the first certified all-organic brewery in Portland, has shuttered its doors this week. Citing various small business woes, many of them related to the recent economic downturn, the much-loved brewpub has officially been shut down. So no more Woody, Island Red, or Epic Ale on your package store shelves, my dear Oregonians. Having just sampled my first, and apparently last, Roots beer a few weeks ago, I can only say it’s a damn shame. Owner Craig Nicholls hasn’t ruled out contract brewing his offerings in the future, but for now we can only say: Fare thee well, good Roots! We hardly knew ye!