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Jimmy Carter's Unintentional Legacy: Beer Making

Jimmy Carter's Unintentional Legacy: Beer Making


Who knew we had Jimmy Carter to thank for honey-orange wheat ale? With an orange slice.

In 1978, Carter changed the post-Prohibition law that prohibited home beer brewing while permitting home wine making. The law instantly made it legal for each household to produce 200 gallons of tax-exempt beer each year. Oh. I thought it was each day. Anyway! Smart move, nonetheless, as the amendment effectively ended the pale-shaded, Schlitz-filled days of the '70s.

Though we can credit Carter for the wave of his pen, the born-again Christian had no interest (that I know of) in the legislation. A supplier of beer-making equipment in Rochester, NY, solicited his congressman to legalize home brewing. The bill passed through the House and Senate without fanfare and was signed by the president without remark. In fact, 24 years later, the New York congressman could not recall the bill when he was asked to discuss his role in jump-starting the "American beer renaissance."

Yet today more than 90 percent of small breweries are said to have roots in home brewing, proving how vital the bill was. So while Carter may have done little for the economy during the late '70s, he did wonders for the fruit, honey, and chocolate beers of today.

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