Home brewers' beer not welcome at Heritage Festival

5:01 PM, Jun 13, 2012   |    comments
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By Alex Fees

St. Louis (KSDK) - Perhaps they can sit down over a cold one and work this out.

For several years now, home brewers and their craft beer products have been a part of the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival. This weekend, that event is being held at Ballpark Village, just north of Busch Stadium.

But there will be no home-brewed beer.

Home brewers have been notified that they will not be allowed to serve their pride and joy.

Tim Cochran is a member of St. Louis Brews, a home-brewing club with about 150 members.

"We're shut down," said Cochran Wednesday afternoon, as he poured a reporter a glass of his pale ale. "There won't be homebrew served at the festival. It's a disappointment for the home brewers and the professional brewers that are there. Most of them got their start this way. It's a festival we've participated in since 2008, and the professional brewers have made room for us to serve our beer."

So what changed? Basically, city officials found out home brewers were serving their beer, and that's illegal.

St. Louis Public Safety Director Eddie Roth said they became aware of it when a citizen questioned whether it was happening.

"And they said, 'Are you allowed to hand out beer at a paid-for festival without a license?'" said Roth. "And our excise commissioner looked into it and state law and city ordinance do not allow that. Professional brewers we can count on for meeting all the health and safety requirements selling something, but are you allowed to sell beer from home brewers? And the legal answer is no."

Both sides say they have hope for the future. But there will be no home brew at this weekend's Heritage Festival.

"We love home brewers; we love the Heritage Festival," said Roth. "If we can figure out a way to accommodate it and figure out a way for future festivals, then we're for that. And we're working on that right now. There should be a way short of advocates going to Jefferson City to get a law changed to figure something out. That's what we're working on now."

Asked about the apparent fact that it has gone on in years past, Roth said, "Whether it was happening it was not advertised, or that it was ever part of an application that was received. So this came up or was advertised for the first time on a festival website and a member of the public said hey what's the deal with that?"


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