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Wisconsin governor signs bill allowing transportation of homemade beer

Home brewer Mike Fredricksen of Hudson.

Thanks to some footwork by local hobbyists, negotiations and public support, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill April 2 that allows home brewers to transport their wares off the premises.

The result is good news for Mike Fredricksen, 40, Hudson, an 18-year veteran home brewer and member of the Wisconsin Alliance of Home Brewers who was deeply involved in pushing the bill (Senate Bill 395) along its legislative path.

"I am happy for the outcome," Fredricksen said in a telephone conversation Monday. "I was concerned about how things were going up to the end."

Fredrickson said his group of supporters had to negotiate with the state tavern league lobby to prevent the measure from being pronounced dead before it was presented.

"The bill sat on the governor's desk for a couple weeks before he signed it," said Fredrickson. He speculated the new law will go into effect July 1.

The previous state law prohibited home brewers from transporting any beer they make from its place of origin. The language was largely ignored and home brewers were not aware of it.

Fredrickson said the strict interpretation of the law caught home brewers by surprise when the Wisconsin Department of Revenue ruled in 2011 it was illegal for home brewers to transport beer relating to an event in Racine.

The new law exempts home brewers from permit requirements and taxes, but continues a ban on the sale of homemade beer and wine.

Frederickson is particularly glad that contests among home brewers at club meetings are no longer against the law and the home-made products can be offered up for sampling at festivals and fairs.

"We got it done," he said. "But it's kind of like re-gifting -- we got back to where we were."