By Kevin Burns, Beer Columnist
I grew up in tiny Ellenville, New York and while it is a great little town with lots of local attractions, it is not exactly a booming metropolis. Despite being a small town, there is a group of passionate craft beer drinkers who tour the country to visit breweries, drink from a world class beer lists, and most importantly homebrew.
When the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed in 1919, prohibition banned the sale of alcohol but also made homebrewing illegal. When prohibition was lifted in 1933 with the passing of the 21st Amendment, there was no language included in regard to homebrewing.
Finally, in 1978 President Carter signed H.R. 1337 which created an exemption from taxation for beer brewed at home for personal use.
With the federal law being so vague, most states have written their own laws, however New York has has no legislation regarding brewing at home.
New York State statute, Chapter 3-B, Article 8, § 100 states that “No person shall manufacture for sale or sell at wholesale or retail any alcoholic beverage within the state without obtaining the appropriate license therefore required by chapter.”
With no legal language actually banning homebrewing in New York, quite a few people have been brewing beer at home for years.
One of those people is writer Tod Westlake. Over the last few months Tod has organized a group of people, including me, to get together to brew beer.
About a month ago, we gathered early on a lazy Sunday morning and brewed our first batch of beer together. Two weeks later we bottled it and have just recently decided to crack it open.
Ellenville Brewing Company's (we are not an official brewery) Pale Ale is meant to be an easy drinking, restrained Pale Ale that adheres to style guidelines. The label was designed by local artist Roger Baker.
Our little homebrewed pale ale poured a cloudy, golden orange color with a thin, white head. The aroma is fruity with some pale malt. The body is smooth and easy drinking with fruit notes and and some faint hops underneath. The finish leaves a light dryness on the palate.
Overall, this first time brew is on its way to being a very nice homebrew. Ellenville Pale Ale was brewed to fit style guidelines and be a session beer. It needs a little more carbonation and some hops on the finish but I think Tod and the crew are up to something here.