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Hobby Distillers Association Seeks Testimonials for National Campaign


varocketry

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All:
The Hobby Distillers Association has funded a federal lobbyist and is making progress toward legalization of hobby distilling as was done for hobby beer and wine making in 1978.
I'd appreciate your consideration and offer of help.
I am assisting the Hobby Distillers Association in trying to create a Crowdfunding appeal to be run on Indiegogo or similar sites. We're trying to raise awareness, support, and increased funding for lobbying efforts in Washington, DC.
One of the positive themes I'm trying to develop for this appeal is the idea that hobby distilling can be a defacto training ground to prepare aspiring distillers to learn the business, just as has happened in the craft brewing industry since legalization.
I'm looking to speak to a few craft distillers who might have learned the trade or gotten their fist exposure to distilling in a hobby environment. I'd like to capture a quote or story for a quick inclusion in a Crowdfunding appeal video with national publicity.
"It was learning the process and techniques in my home/garage with a hobby still that prepared me to pursue this as a profession. My career is directly traced back to my hobby distilling experience which ignited my desire to learn more about the science and techniques of distilling."
Or something like that...
We'd like to feature 3-5 craft distillers who've grown up on this path. Would you be able to support this effort and welcome some free national publicity?
Thanks very much for your kind consideration. This is a serious request to help us affect change in federal then state laws.
Please PM me if you might be interested.
www.hobbydistillersassociation.org
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So... Not that I don't 100% wholeheartedly approve of your efforts, but...

Wouldn't somebody offering a testimonial with respect to previous conduct of an illegal activity amount to self-incrimination?

Got a point there.

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I don't think this is the proper way to do it. You are basically preaching to only the choir - the average joe doesn't understand the opinions of distillers. What you need to do is get a few basic messages out of home base and to the general public about what distilling is, what the real dangers are (as opposed to fictional ones), and why the average person should be able to do it. Be quick and snappy, if you are too long winded, average joe will be lost to the message.

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I love the hobby distillers, but getting the federal excise tax reduced is probably higher on my priority list.

I think legalization of hobby distilling faces a long road. Uphill. Through 10' of snow.

The reason, as has been explained to me, is that hobby distilling differs from home brewing in the simple respect that a guy with a 30 gallon in his garage could conceivably produce salable quantities sufficient to deprive the government of considerable tax revenue. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to do the same by brewing beer.

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So... Not that I don't 100% wholeheartedly approve of your efforts, but...

Wouldn't somebody offering a testimonial with respect to previous conduct of an illegal activity amount to self-incrimination?

What is the statute of limitations on illegal moonshine?

Since spirits are much higher in alcohol content compared to beer or wine, I really don't think the feds will approve of hobby distilling anytime soon.

Some of the legal craft distilleries would likely qualify as "hobby distillers" based on the size of the equipment. I have visited some distilleries that would fit in your typical two car garage.

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Perhaps the most mentioned reason legalization will never pass espoused by people that comment only, is the tax issue.

I've researched the tax issue and the govt did not see any decline in tax revenue following the legalization of home beer and wine making. (1979 and later)

In fact the opposite is true, and Craft brewers sold an estimated 15.6 million barrels* of beer in 2013, up from 13.2 million in 2012. Craft brewer retail dollar value in 2013 was an estimated $14.3 billion.

There was $0 of taxable craft brewing in 1978, there is $14.3 Billion today, due in large part by the legalization efforts by the ABA in the years prior to 1978 and the tremendous interst and growth that has spawned.

We believe a similar argument can be made for distilled spirits, the renaissance has already begun .

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Perhaps the most mentioned reason legalization will never pass espoused by people that comment only, is the tax issue.

I've researched the tax issue and the govt did not see any decline in tax revenue following the legalization of home beer and wine making. (1979 and later)

In fact the opposite is true, and Craft brewers sold an estimated 15.6 million barrels* of beer in 2013, up from 13.2 million in 2012. Craft brewer retail dollar value in 2013 was an estimated $14.3 billion.

There was $0 of taxable craft brewing in 1978, there is $14.3 Billion today, due in large part by the legalization efforts by the ABA in the years prior to 1978 and the tremendous interst and growth that has spawned.

We believe a similar argument can be made for distilled spirits, the renaissance has already begun .

I'd be interested in seeing a more comprehensive, balanced view of the accounts in hopes of determining whether or not federal revenue derived from the brewery industry is, or is not, a zero-sum game.

You mention the rise in taxable revenue from the craft brewing industry, but in order to contextualize your argument you would need to look at the revenue from the entire brewery industry both during the aforementioned period, as well as historically - to determine if, in fact, craft brewers have been peeling revenue from the traditional brewers' share of the overall market, or if their emergence caused overall beer consumption to increase in some non-linear fashion.

Regardless, unless I'm missing something (which is entirely possible), you're conflating "craft" with "hobby". The federal government doesn't derive tax revenue from hobby (home) brewers because there's no sales volume. Ostensibly, the fed would derive no revenue from hobby distillers for the same reason.

Like I said in a previous post - I'm on your side. I'm just not sold on your presentation. In my opinion the better argument would be to talk about the exponential growth of the specialty market in hobby distillation equipment and supplies and to correlate that with a complete lack of negative societal impact while flying 100% below the enforcement radar. In essence, it's the same argument used by marijuana legalization proponents - "People are doing this anyway, nobody's stopping it, nobody's being harmed, the economic impact is positive, so why not legalize it?"

It is, fundamentally, the "Lockean" justification for legalization; the notion that you can not restrict benign human behavior.

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I think he is suggesting that the hobby brewers eventually resulted in the craft breweries springing up everywhere. All of those hobbyists practicing during the 80s eventually resulted in the businesses that exploded onto the scene in the 1990-present time frame.

So would a hobby distillers law result is more craft distilleries? I would argue that we already have an explosion of craft distilleries opening.

So the tax benefit for the government is already underway.

I have no objection to hobby distilling being legalized. I just don't think it will result in any more craft distilleries. The barriers to entry are fairly easy already.

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Actually, I admit in my haste to respond I quoted the wrong stats. I was meaning to respond to the post that again mentioned TAX as a reason that HOBBY DISTILLING does not have a chance of being passed. I have gotten from the TTB their annual reports for BEER INDUSTRY taxable revenue for the years 1978-2013, to correspond with the year before legalization to present.

For the TAX issue to be true, you'd expect to see a decline in taxable revenue as these home beer and wine producers supposedly stopped buying because they were now making their own. This was not the case for either beer or wine industry taxable revenues. In fact, something appears to have stimulated a growth in revenue a few years following legalization.

This brings into play the factoids I mis-quoted earlier which should have been used in context of the entire CRAFT brewing industry which DIDN"T EXIST in 1978 before legalization. There were four dominant brewers and they all made the same pilsner style of beer with minor favor differences. The first craft brewery I can document opened in Yakima, WA in 1982 by Bert Grant. The second in California in 1986.

You might correctly argue that there's no straight line between the 1978 legalization and a $14.3 Billion industry thirty five years later. But you can't say they're not related.

As I've written drafts for the script for the video appeal I've thought about many approaches. The script does reference a libertarian "American farmers distilled leftover grain from the earliest days of our country until Prohibition outlawed it in 1919", similar to your Lockean reference. I like a 'learn a craft, find a career' argument because I think a human interest angle featuring engaging, articulate brewers or distillers who learned their craft in a non-professional setting would resonate well.

I appreciate all comments and ideas on how might make an engaging, effective appeal successful to a broad audience who might find in it something they'd support or be interested in.

I'd like to document comments from a couple distillers who have a compelling anecdote to share. I've got a couple, maybe a couple more would round out a bonus video segment.

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  • 2 weeks later...
All:


We continuing to work toward the CROWDFUNDING appeal to augment the lobbying efforts. Early lobby efforts are getting some traction with Senators. The main script is written. The site text is underway. We've fund a filmmaker in DFW area who can help film the primary video with Rick Morris.


We'd like to identify 1-2 more DISTILLERS for a video testimonial segment. Any interesting vignettes or stories of learning distilling before turning pro? Please consider helping us.


Questions: Have you given thought to some interesting stories our your journey we can capture? Do you have access to someone who can make a short video for you? Doesn't have to pro quality but GOOD LIGHTING, Good AUDIO, and a good story are paramount.




BTW, I put a short ad in CRAIGSLIST for free video help and got a response in 30 minutes.
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I think what VArocketry is trying to do is a great thing. You have to get caught with an illegal still or making or having illegal spirits on your person to get in trouble. You can't get in trouble for saying you did something. Anyone ever heard of Junior Johnson? Seen the movie? Help him out he is trying to do a good thing. He is only pushing for it to be legal like beer and wine not a craft size.

Would you be where you (your business) are if you had to get a permit and then learn to make likkkker?

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