In this article, Karan Singh of JGLS discusses whether it is illegal to make beer or wine at home for personal consumption or not.
Alcohol Law in India is strict in many ways. Alcohol is included in the state list which means that the law of each state will be different in India. Alcohol is something which you can consume after attaining certain age in India. Also, if you want to sell the alcohol in public you have to get a license.
In some states in India alcohol is totally banned and in some states, the drinking age is more than 25 years. The rules and regulations differ from state to state. States, where there is a total ban on alcohol, are Bihar, Gujarat, Lakshadweep, Manipur, and Nagaland. These states are the dry states and alcohol is illegal without a permit. In Delhi, the legal age to consume alcohol is 25 years.
Homebrewing is brewing beer or making wine for personal use or for non-commercial purpose. Beer or wine has been brewed non-commercially for 7000 years in Egypt and China. People make beer and wine because of many reasons. They make beer and wine to avoid the higher cost of buying commercially. Some make beer and wine to adjust its taste according to one’s own preference. They can create drinks that are not available in the market. Making a beer or wine is an art. Some people love to make beer for themselves. People can find lots of information on how to make it. Below is the procedure to make wine or beer, if you want to make it for personal use.
But is it legal to make beer or wine at home for personal consumption in India?
YES, it is completely Legal to make wine or brew beer at home in India for personal use except in states where it is banned like Bihar, Gujarat, Lakshadweep, Manipur, and Nagaland. No law states in India that you cannot brew beer or make wine at home but this is only for personal use and not for commercial purpose.
You can make wine or brew beer but should consider some points:
- If you are making wine or beer then you should not sell it or make any kind of profit.
- It should be strictly for personal use only.
- There is a limit to how much you make it. More than 50 litres can land you in trouble as a quantity more than 50 litres cannot be considered for personal use.
- While making or storing the alcohol, you should be careful that your wine or beer does not turn poisonous.
Homebrewing of alcohol – A comparative study between India and the European countries
Making beer and wine at home in the US was legalized in 1978 for the first time since prohibition made it illegal in 1919. In 2013, Mississippi and Alabama last two states passed the law to permit beer brewing at home. In all 50 states of US passes the law to permit beer brewing at home. Now In US people can make wine or beer at home. The hobby of making beer and wine at home has been expanding in recent years. More than 1 million people make beer or wine at home once a year.
Legal In unlimited quantity for domestic consumption only. If one wants to sell the fermented products then have to pay duty and registration with HM Revenue and Customs.
Can a Pub In Delhi Brew Beer or Make Wine for Selling?
Yes, a pub in Delhi can brew beer or make wine. These beer brewing on small scale is called microbrewing. Any pub can brew beer for making a profit out of it. It is very important to improve the taste of the beer or else no one will like it. It should be better than the bottled beer and should be less costly. For making a microbrewing one has to buy a machine which can be costly. Microbrewing does have a separate licence and these pubs have to obtain that licence before starting the microbrewing. This licence is obtained from the excise department. Microbrewing licence is not given in every state of India. It is provided in some states like Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The licence is given for the sale of the beer, or for export or supply outside India as well.
Why brewed beer tastes better than the bottled beer? India’s first commercial microbrewery at Gurgaon’s Galaxy Hotel and Spa, where the brewmaster works explains that “Creativity is the key component here. Industrial brewers are driven by a mass-merchandising mindset where profits matter the most”.
This is the reason the government is promoting beer brewing as it is increasing the GDP through taxes. Also, it is increasing the employment in this section. Licenses are given to the companies by the excise department according to their state rules.
If the preparation causes nuisance to neighbours
If you are planning to make wine or brew beer, then you should take precautions.These precautions can be minor but can land you in jail or in trouble. We have to know the law before making beer or wine as alcohol is something that is not promoted in the society. You can to take care that no one around is getting disturbed by your brewing beer. Which law will stop you from making wine or beer:
Section 268 of IPC
A person is guilty of a public nuisance who does any act or is guilty of an illegal omission which causes any common injury, danger or annoyance to the public or to the people in general who dwell or occupy property in the vicinity, or which must necessarily cause injury, obstruction, danger or annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right.
This section simply states that if anyone does any act like making beer or wine and because of its smell, the neighbor is getting affected then it will come under Public nuisance.
Section 304A of IPC
Causing death by negligence. Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
This section focuses on the act of a person because of which it causes death by negligence. Brewing beer or wine can be dangerous as alcohol is a flaming beverage. And it can be possible because of your negligence it catches fire and hurt someone.
Home made beer or wine can easily turn poisonous in very less time and if anyone gets hurt, all the liability is on you.
In hotels or pubs where they make wine or beer take extra precaution as this can be a problematic situation if anything goes wrong. They take precaution for the smell of the wine/beer, precaution for fire etc.
Excise Duty on homemade beer or wine
Excise Duty or rules deal with any kind of intoxicants in the alcohol industry, for which the tax is taken for production or selling of alcohol. Generally, this is only done for bulk orders of alcohol and not for a little quantity of alcohol made at home. This is done to the beer made in a pub as well but no tax is applied on the beer or wine which is made at home. The taxes are calculated on the alcohol by volume which can be monthly or weekly.
Excise duty is not applied on the alcohol that has the alcoholic strength below 5% and is homemade. As the excise duty is applied on the bulk order only then the homemade wine or beer would not attract tax or duty. If the wine or beer is more than the limited quantity then action can be taken against the person.
The Amount of spirit one can stock up at home according to States in India:
No individual can stock more than 18 litres of wine, liquor, beer, cider and alcopop and 9 liters of Indian and foreign liquor(whiskey, rum, gin, vodka) at home. Those travelling to another state can carry only 1 liter of any liquor.
The State allows to stock only 2 bottles of IMFL, 1 case of beer, 2 bottles of imported liquor, 2 bottles of a country made liquor and a bottle of brandy. If you want to stock more bottles then you can obtain an L-50 permit which has an annual fee of Rs.1000 and lifetime fee of Rs. 10,000.
An individual can stock up to 6 bottles of country liquor, 18 bottles of IMFL, 12 bottles of foreign liquor, 12 bottles of beer, 6 bottles of rum, 12 bottles of wine and 6 bottles of vodka. If you want to stock more then you can obtain a L-50 permit which has an annual fee of Rs.200 and Rs 2000 for the lifetime.
An individual can stock up to 12 bottles or 9 liters of IMFL.
An individual can stock up to 36 bottles of whiskey and 48 bottles of beer per person. For more, the L-50 permit can be obtained.
Under this State Law, 12 bottles of IMFL, 24 bottles of beer, 18 bottles of country liquor, 6 bottles of denatured spirit. Goa State Law is strict, punishment includes imprisonment which may extend to 7 years.
In India, home brewing beer and making wine is legal but storing it can be difficult. Storing beer and wine is prescribed under the State law of different states. You should take care of the law before storing it at home. Homebrewing can be difficult for a common man to make in India as it takes time and patience. One has to wait more than a year to make a wine or beer. But homebrewing should be promoted in India to avoid high taxes on alcohol and to get the taste that one needs. Also, home brewing will help to get the fresh and diverse flavour of the beer and wine. Even in pubs, the sale of brewed beer is more than the bottled beer as it is fresh and safe for health. Bottled beer is unreliable as the quality matters. If you want to drink beer for relaxing then you should go for home-brewed beer as it is much better in quality than bottled one.