Is It Legal To Brew Your Own Beer In The UK?

home brewing laws uk

Yes! In the UK, you are allowed to brew your own beer at home with few limitations. You will still want to know what laws and regulations so you are prepared to go about it the right way.

With home brewing, you are able to save money by brewing your own beer. Investing in quality materials and ingredients to start brewing may seem like it’s going to cost a fortune but it actually works out cheaper in the long run. As you learn to become an expert in this craft, you’ll be able to brew high-quality beers for the fraction of the price sold on the market. You will learn to create flavors and experiment with ingredients to create your own recipe.

You may be enjoying the benefits of home brewing now, but this wasn’t always the case.

A Brief History of Home Brewing Laws in the UK

Due to the remaining impacts of Victorian regulation, if you wanted to manufacture your own beer in Britain before 1963, you had to either pay the government for the right or do it discreetly.

When home brewing became legalized, home brewers started to connect with each other to share their well-kept techniques and ideas. An influx of newspaper columns and books, including H.E. Home Brewing Without Failures, a 1965 pocket guide by Bravery, was made available to those who wanted to practice this new hobby.

There was a home-brewing boom in the 1970s, fueled by the Good Life do-it-yourself movement and advertising efforts on TV and in newspapers, and many more. However, from the 70s to the 80s, because of the lack of resource materials to create great beer, many brewers ended up being disappointed with bad tasting brews.

With home brewing interest plummeting, some dedicated people kept at it and perfected their craft. As the internet age entered, information became more available, brewers were able to share ideas from all over the world and they were able to communicate with each other.

UK Laws on Home Brewing

The laws governing home brewing in the United Kingdom are relatively lax. There is no restriction to how much beer or wine you can manufacture as long as it is not going to be sold. The popularity home brewing has received after it’s been made legal has made it possible for brewers to recreate their favourite brews at home. They are able to do it safely by following the regulations set by the government for the brewers and suppliers of home kits and materials.

The government has set no limit to the amount of beer you can brew at home as long as it’s not to be sold commercially.

You also cannot give away any homebrewed beer that will be consumed outside of your home. Giving them away is also considered illegal, however, you’re unlikely to be penalized for such a tiny offence and it’s usually overlooked. Even so, it’s better to follow the rules and laws for the safety of everyone.

How to Start your Home Brewing Set-up

You’ve got your equipment, you’ve got your ingredients, and now it’s time to start brewing. To brew the finest beer you could ever make, you must follow these tips:

 Proper Temperature

Brewing beer involves keeping your brew in a room with the proper temperature for fermentation. The quality and safety of consumption of your beer highly depend on this!

Cleanliness and Sanitation

You wouldn’t eat something cooked in dirty pots and plated in filthy dishes. This goes for your brew too! Bacteria and mould do not only affect the taste of your brew but also how safe it will be for drinking.

Don’t be stingy with the ingredients

Quality batches of brew require the best ingredients you can get your hands on. If you use mediocre ingredients, expect mediocre results. If you use quality ingredients, expect an amazing brew. Quality requires effort and you can’t assume to create a remarkable batch of beer by being stingy on your ingredients.

How to tell if your brew has gone bad

Brewing involves trial and error, not every batch you’ll create will be perfect and there is a chance that you will have to get rid of the brew you’ve created. You may feel like it’s a waste but your health and safety is most important. Here’s how you can tell if that batch needs to go down the drain:

 Mold film on top

Because fermentation is an important process of brewing, your beer may develop mould if exposed to unsterilized or improper conditions. Mould is often very dangerous to be inhaled or consumed so it is best to start over than taste that mould-infested batch to try if it’s still good. It’s really not worth it.

Bad Odor

Unlike exotic gourmet food, beer doesn’t taste good when it smells bad. It shouldn’t have a foul smell, and this often means that it’s growing undesirable bacteria that it is harmful to you.

Slimy film in top

It may not be mold, but it’s still bad bacteria brewing with your beer. This is another indication that the batch you’ve just created has become home to dangerous bacteria making it unsafe for consumption.

The taste gets worse as you let it ferment

The fermentation process enhances the quality and taste of your beer. The longer it is left to ferment, the better it should taste. However, a sign of contamination is that it tastes worse as you let it be.

Now that you have basic knowledge of how to brew your own beer, joining this ancient tradition will hopefully release the artisan brewer out of you. Always remember to follow the basic guidelines to make sure you create a batch of beer that doesn’t only taste good but is also safe to consume.

Dan Specht

Dan has been homebrewing beer for 8 years and holds a level 2 certifiication as a Cicerone.

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