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When home brewed beer was illegal

When home brewed beer was illegal

June 1978: News that homemade beer may be legal for the first time since the 1920s delights home brewer Tracy Grade.

Tracy Glade, 33, a Glendale teacher, said she prepared 300 gallons of home-brewed beer and Zinfandel wine in 1977.

This photo appeared in the June 13, 1978, Los Angeles Times. Staff writer Mark Jones reported:

Every few months Ray Sandoval cooks up 25 gallons of home-brew beer, and though his wife prefers Budweiser they’ve worked out a satisfactory arrangement. He brews it, she bottles it, he drinks it. She drinks Bud.

The other day Sandoval confessed that, although Prohibition ended 45 years ago, he fantasizes that a pair of gray-suited federal agents will knock at his front door one day, interrogate him about his home brew, then whisk him off.

“Sure, I know the government doesn’t give a damn about a guy making a few gallons of beer on the kitchen stove.” the San Fernando Valley man said, “but just the same it is still illegal to do it in this country.”

True enough, the Prohibition-era state and federal laws are still on the books prohibiting beer brewing without a manufacturer’s license, but things are changing. Congress and the California Legislature are expecting to legalize home brew by the end of summer, thus putting such phrases as “bathtub beer” and “basement booze” back into the language for the first time in a half-century.

And Sandoval can finally put an end to his private fantasy.

Amateur beer makers, of which there may be as many at 3,000 in Southern California–an estimated 100,000 nationwide–are a cautious lot who until the proposed legislation becomes law are naturally reserved about what they do and what they say to strangers.

As one of them said recently, “The crazy thing about the law is that it’s so contradictory: you can legally buy beer-making books, kits, supplies and equipment, but the law says you can’t use them! My conscience is clear, though,” he said stiffly, “because at least I don’t sell the stuff.

“But please do me a favor and leave my name out of the story. The last thing I want is the Treasury Department snooping around my house …”

In the fall of 1978, President Carter signed a bill allowing home brewing for personal use.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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1 Comment

  1. September 21, 2015, 2:48 pm

    If my information is correct both Tracy and Ray were members of the Maltose Falcons Homebrewing Society which is still going strong up in the Valley

    By: DrewB

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