Homebrewing Beer Is a Revolutionary Act

Chris O’Brien, author of Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World, tells us How Microbrew Can Save the World.

His arguments don’t even touch on the federal excise tax. He’s more interested in how home brewing, world-wide, promotes small-scale industry (and household industry), and the economic power of women. It’s a side of homebrewing I’d never really examined before.

I’ve recently put the finishing touches on a first draft of the new edition of NWTRCC’s pamphlet on “Low Income / Simple Living as War Tax Resistance” — here’s our sidebar on home-brewing:

The Indian independence movement boycotted goods that the British colonial occupation monopolized and taxed, such as alcohol. Gandhi’s independence campaign encouraged Indians to produce their own salt and cloth, both to withdraw financial support from the British monopolies and to encourage the development of domestic industry.

Rebellious British colonists used a similar tactic during the American Revolution — making homespun cloth in patriotic “spinning bees” and boycotting British monopoly tea.

What would be a good equivalent of the patriotic spinning bee for today’s anti-imperialists? What commercial transactions does the government tax that it would have a harder time taxing if they were the fruits of household industry rather than the marketplace?

One good candidate is homebrewed beer. The federal excise tax on beer comes to about a nickle per bottle. By homebrewing, you can resist this tax, learn a craft, and drink good beer — all legally! It is a winning proposition any way you look at it. Imagine “brewing bees” or “drinking bees” at which tax resisters belt out songs of liberty with gusto!

Wrote one homebrewer: “I like the symbolism of home brewing tax-free beer. Gandhi’s campaign had a value that went beyond its bottom-line pounds-and-pence figure. Spending time spinning cloth was a way of consciously participating on a daily basis in the resistance, and wearing the homespun cloth was a way of broadcasting your commitment to those around you. Besides, brewing beer is fun and when you’re done you’ve got beer!”