“A relic of post-Prohibition law was defeated in the Legislative chamber, providing an encouraging nod to the nation’s homebrewers”

In 1979, any fears that…homebrewers may have had about legal ramifications were quelled when the Federal Government passed House Resolution 1337, removing the restriction on home beer making. According to the new law, all Federal restrictions on home brewing were removed for 200 gallons in a two adult household, or 100 gallons for a single adult household. The resolution was drafted by Senator Alan Cranston of California, and was campaigned for heavily by the Maltose Falcons. Lee Coe, a prominent Falcon and dubbed a “California homebrew curmudgeon” by observers, personally met with Cranston throughout the drafting of the bill. Along with help from the Home Wine Merchants Association, the Falcons helped conduct a petition campaign that Cranston brought forth before Congress, and effectively argued in favor of amending Federal law. A relic of post-Prohibition law was defeated in the Legislative chamber, providing an encouraging nod to the nation’s homebrewers.

The Maltose Falcons represent the second vanguard to the craft brewing industry, and the first community of homebrewers to legitimize the activity of brewing their own beer; the push to legalize their hobby had long reaching ramifications for beer in America. Having homebrewing open to the public increased the amount of knowledge that could be shared among active homebrewers. Accessing specialty knowledge of brewing in the 1970s or prior was difficult, but with legalization there were no barriers to gathering in public, publishing recipes, and purchasing dedicated brewing equipment. This in turn allowed homebrewers to take ownership of the brewing trade to a greater degree. Beer became a more democratic beverage when any American could produce their own; homebrewing was as much an expression of liberty during Prohibition as it was a sign that citizens just wanted something alcoholic to drink. The legalization of homebrewing, bolstered by the Falcons, was also reflected in the number of breweries increasing by the early 1980s. The 1979 bill, coupled with a later Californian bill allowing the sale of beer on brewery premises in 1982 mark the beginning of a trend toward more brewery openings than closings. The breakdown of legal barriers, beginning in California, was a key turning point to the increase of craft breweries opening throughout the nation.

Eric Ortega, “The Golden State of Brewing; California’s Economic and Cultural Influence in the American Brewing Industry” (Master’s thesis, California State University, Fullerton, 2015), 62-64.