Review: The Local Brew – The Stone Brewing Company

by Reviews

Alabama House Bill 9  (HB9) is the current incarnation of legalizing homebrewing for Alabama home brewers. Since Mississippi passed a law legalizing homebrewing in March of this year (goes into effect July 1st), Alabama is now the only state in the entire union where making beer is illegal. Homebrewing is actually a felony in Alabama! You can’t even legally sell homebrewing equipment in Alabama.

Alabama has a history of getting close, but can’t ever seem to cross the finish line. Last year the homebrewing bill got to about the same point. HB354, as it was called last year, died in the Alabama senate.

As far as homebrewing laws go, this one is very restrictive. This bill only allows you to brew 60 gallons a year, compared to the federal limit of 100 gallons per person and 200 gallons per household. If that wasn’t enough, you can only have 15 gallons in your house at any time. There are times where I’ll brew 20 gallons in one shot, so the 15 gallon limitation seems excessive to me. And if you happen to live in a dry county in Alabama, you’re out of luck no matter what happens to the bill.

This beer would put me over the quarterly limit in Alabama for this year. (10 gal + 10 gal earlier)

This beer would put me over the quarterly limit in Alabama for this year. (10 gal + 10 gal earlier)

Even with these restrictions, you have to wonder why they can’t pass the law. Well you don’t have to wonder too hard. It’s the Baptists.

One big opponent (if not THE opponent) of Alabama homebrewing is Alabama Citizen Action Program (ALCAP). Once you’re on their site, you only have to reach the second sentence before the words “bible” and “moral compass” get tossed around. There’s no surprise there, and it’s nothing new. They do provide other “reasons”, which are more entertaining than the usual bible quotes.

Homebrewers can’t self-regulate

The argument goes like this. The law only allows 15 gallons of homemade beer, wine or cider per quarter (3 months) and only 15 gallons ever in your home at any time. But homebrewers are already making beer in Alabama, so according to ALCAP, they will ignore the new law as well. The only way to enforce it is to have police raid your home, something even ALCAP didn’t feel comfortable with. Still it makes you wonder. If people will ignore laws no matter what, why pass laws at all?

Think of the children

Oh you knew this reason would be here somewhere. Apparently having large amounts of homemade alcohol (15 gallons) would be too much of a temptation for children. ALCAP’s argument is if children try beer because it’s more accessible, they will try other “mind altering” drugs. Since children see their parents drinking, it would be hypocritical for the parents to challenge their child’s new drug habits. For some reason, this effect doesn’t work if it’s a store bought can of Budweiser.  Homebrew has special evil powers to corrupt children that regular alcohol is missing.

Homebrewers will want more

Previous Alabama homebrew bills had a 100 gallon limit to match the federal limits. This bill was slashed down to 15 gallons to appease critics like the ALCAP. Their “fear” is future bills will request higher amounts to brew and store, maybe even as much as 100 gallons (*gasp*). Well I’d have to say they are correct on this one. 15 gallons is unreasonably low, and should be challenged. There are no limits on the amount of beer you can purchase and store in your home. Why is homebrew more “dangerous”?  Oh yeah, special evil powers — I keep forgetting.

Homebrew makes alcoholics

Again for some strange reason, homebrew will take well-educated, chuch-attending citizens down a dark path to alcoholism, but regular store bought canned beer will not. ALCAP states “they [sic- homebrews?] begin by drinking socially and they gradually begin to drink more and more, until they find themselves addicted.” I guess they are assuming new Alabama homebrewers don’t drink beer now, and this new hobby will somehow make them alcoholics? Or again, homebrew has special evil powers which store bought beer does not possess.

These are the main reasons they highlight on their website on why you should oppose HB9. They also provide other laugh inducing reasons like the urban legend vodka tampon and butt chugging, and all the usual bible quotes in other parts of their website.  They state they are [the self appointed] moral compass for Alabama, and they have guide on all the other things you shouldn’t do.

If you’re in Alabama, you need to call your state senators and tell them YES on HB9. I really don’t want to be writing another article about how you’re close to passing it again next year.

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Credits and Links

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DJ Spiess

DJ Spiess

Beer buddy

I live in Denver, Colorado. This blog is everything about beer, wine, cider, mead and other spirits.
I am a avid homebrewer and winemaker. I’ve been making my own beer and wine for many years. I started making beer when I was in college (mostly because the drinking age in the United States is 21). My first few beers were horrible. The beers are much better now, and I often supply my neighborhood with free beer! It is a great hobby!

What is the episode about?

For those interested in learning about the Stone Brewery, The Local Brew’s pilot episode is a wealth of information.  The show is hosted by Mark Marion.

The Local Brew “was put on this Earth for one reason alone: to find the best beers in the world and meet the good people who brew them”.  In the inaugural episode “Not all beers are created equal”, Marion travels to the Stone Brewing Company in San Diego.

The show contains interviews with the CEO Greg Koch, as well as an in depth tour of the brewery.  The DVD also includes extras like outtakes, a short about the Stone Brewery’s World Bistro and Gardens, and a really cool short on a craft beer vs. wine food pairing competition.  The Stone Brewery has gone all out to deliver a world class brewery and restaurant.

The tour of the brewery takes you behind the scenes of every part of the beer producing process.


The video shows promise, but the interviewee really needs work

One of the extras on the DVD is a battle of wine vs. beer.  Greg Koch challenges the wine industry to determine whether beer or wine goes best with food.  A wine and beer were chosen to pair with each of the six courses in a fabulous meal.  The guests were each asked to choose which best matched the food course.  I won’t give away the ending, but there was real drama, and it is very fun to watch.

The World Bistro and Gardens footage was amazing.  There is a large glass wall that separates the brewery from the restaurant.  I had not heard of the bistro, and just from the video I’d like to see much more.  The next time I am in San Diego, the bistro is officially on my list of stops.

Pilots are always rough

Like most pilot episodes, this one is not without flaws.  The show switches from “film grain” to “sepia” randomly.  It happens so often it is very distracting.  The film grain often makes it difficult to see anything.  To make matters worse, there are great scenes of the brewery and the bistro, but the camera pans too fast and you can’t focus on anything.  The pans become frustrating blurs.  Even in the interviews the camera bounces so much you get the feeling you’re watching a beer version of the Blair Witch Project.  There were times I found myself saying “hold the damn camera still!”

Movement seems to be the common theme for everything.  Even the text moves in and out.  The movement is superfluous and very annoying.  I was about to make a Star Wars joke about the text, but then they used the famous Star Wars moving text as the intro to the wine and beer battle.  I had to laugh.

the local brew cd box

Make sure you proof your copy before printing the boxes

Mark Marion does not project much personality and seems uncomfortable in many of the interviews.  Marion often is unsure of his questions, and is not in command of the interview.  He’s like a deer in headlights, and sometimes just seems lucky he’s in the film.  It might be that next to Greg Koch, his personality is drowned out.  If I were the producer, I’d sit him down and force him to watch every episode of the Thirsty Traveler.  If this is to be a series, he needs to project his personality as if it were his show.

Final Shots

But there is hope.  With the exception of Farscape, most pilot episodes suck.  Star Trek’s Encounter at Farpoint is one of the worst episodes ever made of anything, but the series went on to greatness.  This series has potential.

There is some great information about the Stone Brewery, the wine vs. beer battle is fun, and it will be fun to see future breweries.  I’ll give this pilot episode 6 movie reels out of 10.  It’s a gift, but I do want to see more from The Local Brew.  I think this show can be much more.

If you would like more information about their show, check out The Local Brew .