November 23, 2008

On the Straight & Narrow

While Nahum and I have been having no end of giddy, satisfying fun with the Two Jews Brew venture, there is something we'd turned out not to be so diligent about. Homebrewing is a hobby, like collecting stamps or building model of vintage cars...but it also involves the creation of alcohol.

Which is where The State gets involved.

All states oversee matters of alcohol, tobacco and firearms...but NJ has one of the more draconian approaches to the first of those. Getting a liquor license for a restaurant is a serious hassle & expense, and you can't go to your average grocery or convenience store to pick up a six-pack. (How this squares with NJ being one of the few states with pockets of legalized, non-reservation gambling isn't entirely clear to me, but so it goes.)

All of which is to say: NJ requires homebrewers to get a permit. When Nahum first brought this up, he told me that the permit was aimed at people turning out a bit more brew than we are (it limits a homebrewer to 200 gallons a year...which at our rate of 5 gallons a brew, would mean we'd be at this 40 out of 52 weeks annually). To which I replied: "So instead of being Nahum and Brian the Homebrewers, you and I can be Nahum and Brian the Licensed Homebrewers?"

After a minute or so of laughing, we decided to each pony up the $15 (plus a stamp) to fill out & send in the application to the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Off it went to Trenton, and within a week or so...a thoroughly official-looking document showed up in the mail. Festooned with the seal of the State of New Jersey and signed by Jerry Fischer, the D of ABC's director, this suitable-for-framing page makes me an officially recognized member of the NJ Brewing Class.

There are a few Ps and Qs to mind about how much we make, where we make it and with whom we share it (plus, of course: no selling!), but it feels good to be back on the straight & narrow after a brief stint as homebrew scofflaws.

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