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Thread: Selling Mead

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    Devils Lake, North Dakota
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    Can one sell their own mead?? Or are licences required?

  2. #2
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    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    I'm not a lawyer, and I've never been on TV. My understanding is that selling any form of alcohol is absolutely illegal without licensure. Also, from my "pro" friends, licensing mead can be difficult because the laws are designed for beer, wine and liquor and mead fits neatly into none of those categories. Even bartering, I believe, may be technically prohibited. The problem is you're going around the taxation system, and there's nothing like getting into his pockets to get Uncle Sam mad!

    I'd avoid both sale and distillation. If you do choose to, don't tell us here!
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  3. #3
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    Jul 2004
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    I'm going through the licensing process right now.

    Selling is absolutely illegal. Licensing for sale is no harder for mead than for wine, mead is explicitly defined as wine in the federal code. Not to say that it's easy, it's time consuming and a pain in the arse. Labelling is a bit more difficult, but is still not a real issue.

    There are cute ways to get around the technicalities of the law (rent out your bottles, charge for shipping and handling but not for the mead, etc), but the BATF doesn't really have a sense of humor on this issue. If it looks like you are selling without a license, you are in trouble. Period.
    <a href=\"http://www.slezakfarms.com\" target=\"_blank\">http://www.slezakfarms.com</a>

  4. #4
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    Thanks!! I am not looking to circumvent any laws. Just more itmes to sell as I intend to make an income off my little ladies......

    Scott..... Can you give me the starting point to get licensure??

    Thanks

    Bruce

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Clarksville, MI
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    Go here:

    http://www.ttb.gov/alcohol/info/faq/wine.htm#w13

    for your primer on what is involved in getting your federal permit. I highly recommend calling them, telling them what you want to do, and having them mail you the information and forms that you need.

    You will almost certainly have other state licenses to get. Find your state Liquor Control Commission, or whatever it is called in your state, call them, and see what they need you to do. In Michigan, it is another set of forms to fill out to get that license.

    Keep in mind that this is expensive, $1000 for a starting bond, $500 annual taxes even if you don't sell a drop, excise taxes, mandatory liability insurance, etc. I highly recommend setting up a Limited Liability Corporation or something to insulate yourself from personal liability too. Unless you are comfortable doing all of this yourself, I'd hire a lawyer. There's just a ton of pieces to pull together.

    Good luck!
    <a href=\"http://www.slezakfarms.com\" target=\"_blank\">http://www.slezakfarms.com</a>

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Harriman, Tn
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    175

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    Here in tennessee you have to get a winery licenes permits etc.

  7. #7

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    A lot of states (most states?) also have laws governing the Producer (separate license) and some require the 'producer' to sell ONLY to a wholesaler (another separate license) before it can be sold to the end retailer (yep...yet another separate license). Some states have only state owned retail stores - WV, as an example (i.e., it's not private enterprise).
    I've read several of ScottS postings and his comments/advise seems to be right on the mark. My Dad was Kentucky's ABC Commissioner for many years so I kinda grew up a "resident expert" on the legal aspects of 'moonshinning' and home brewing, etc.
    Overall, if you expect to sell your homemade mead, you'd better become well versed in the legal aspects involving alcohol beverage sales in your state (not to mention, state health inspections of your "production" facilities, etc.). In my opinion, the risks of running afoul of the laws far out weigh any potential sales ($$) you might make from a few bottles of mead.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
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    Just a few miles south of me is Franklin County,
    VA, the only county in the entire USA to have its
    own dedicated ATF (Department of Alcohol, Tobacco,
    and Firearms) office.

    This is the moonshine capital of the planet, and
    the ATF keeps very busy. I myself have sampled
    some peach brandy that was seized, and I think
    I may just buy that fellow a license and set him
    up in a legitimate business if he can ever sober
    up and stay out of jail on drunk-and-disorderly
    charges for a few months running. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    I asked one of the agents one time about Mead,
    and he laughed for long time. He said that
    he was well aware that "home brewers" of beer and
    wine might sell a few bottles to friends and
    neighbors. He said that he knew of no
    "enforcement interest" in this area. Not worth
    their time.

    His guess was that anything under 100 bottles
    a year would be hard to prosecute, on the
    grounds that this simply is not enough capacity
    to prove an overt "intent to distribute", and
    "personal use" would be a "colorable defense",
    meaning that the judge throws the case out for
    lack of cause.

    But he said yes, the ATF would likely HAVE to
    follow up on (and try to fine) someone who was
    overtly reported to them by the usual ex-spouse
    looking for revenge or neighbor with a
    property-line dispute.

    But even then, the "personal use" defense would
    likely prevail, he said. Moreso when the product
    is not "hard liquor", and has no track record of
    being occasionally toxic, as moonshine can be.

    Of course, one's state, county, or municipal
    law enforcement agents might have a much lower
    threshold for concern. For example, in the
    town nearest me, I had to threaten to sue the
    town to get them to stop confiscating skateboards
    from kids who were skating on property that I own
    downtown. ("Yes, officer, EVERYONE has permission
    to skateboard on that parking lot at their own
    risk, which is why I put up the small sign.
    ...and yes, as it happens, I DO own the entire block...")

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Macon, GA USA
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    I remember when I was at VA Tech in the late 80's (GO HOKIES), there was a huge bust in Franklin County. I don't remember the details, but they had like a dozen mash tanks with a total capacity of several thousand gallons. It must not have slowed down too many folks though. I read where one retired agent estimates as much as 60,000 gallons of moonshine a year still make it out of southwest Virginia.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    SE Massachusetts
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    Don't take my word as gospel, but I have read that it is legal for producers of Hard Cider to sell directly to consumers in a roadside stand type establishment. The exception is due to some political boost to local apple producing economies or the like, im not sure but I believe it is only a Federal exemption. Therefore, different states may and most likely do require licensure or permits or the like.
    Now what does this have to do with mead you may ask? Well there is a variation on mead (or cider depending on your pov) which uses large quantities of honey as well as pressed apples... the result is known as 'Cyser'. Im not sure whether cyser is explicitly exempted from the regs, or whether it is prohibited, but it may be a loophole to selling mead directly. Of course it does require that you grow or aquire apples by some other means, grind, press, etc., which in all likelihood may be more time consuming and costly than the acquisition of a simple permit, but maybe not.
    Anyway thats my .02
    BTW You guys have a wonderful forum here, a truly invaluable resource for the aspiring wannabee/ vicarious beekeeper like myself.

    riddley

  11. #11
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    Jul 2004
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    Clarksville, MI
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    The loophole for cider is the following:

    If you produce the apples, press them yourself, ferment with no additives (including yeast!), and sell exclusively from the farm, it is legal without a license. I think the (tortured) logic is that you are just selling farm-raised apples really, so it is ok. Odd but true.

    So no, cyser won't fit through that there loophole.

    The odd thing is that you could do exactly the same thing with grapes - grow them, press them, and ferment with naturally occuring yeast, but you can't sell that wine legally without a license. Must be because it is a bigger tax base, so of course they have to regulate it.
    <a href=\"http://www.slezakfarms.com\" target=\"_blank\">http://www.slezakfarms.com</a>

  12. #12
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    Oct 2001
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    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
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    I realize I am jumping in here late, but that last statment isn't true. There is no loophole for cider. The only way to legally produce alcohol for sale without license is to denature it, or produce alcohol that is to be converted into another substance like vinegar or otherwise not for consumption. It doesn't matter whether you are an apple orchard, vinyard, or otherwise other form of agriculture. Schools can get special licenses for producing alcohol that are not taxed licenses (liquor license fees are a form of excise tax).

    Mead is covered under the wine grouping of license just like any other wine that is not made from grapes, mead is considered a fruit wine, unless the mead is also fermented with a large percentage of malt (which makes it a beer).

    YOu can give as much mead away as you like, but you cannot collect one red penny for any portion of the gift, not even in redeemable container deposits. The limits are 300 gallons of personal non licensed alcohol produced through fermentation only. 200 maximum may be wines, 200 gallons maximum may be in beer. Combined total may not exceed 300 gallons of consumable wine and beer in a single year. Mead is again covered under the laws for wine. It is a fruit wine.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Clarksville, MI
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    From the Code of Federal Regulations, 27CFR24.76 (plug that into google if you want to find a link):

    "Cider, when produced solely from the noneffervescent fermentation of apple juice without the use of any preservative method or material, and when produced at a place other than a bonded wine premises and sold or offered for sale as cider, and not as wine or as a substitute for wine, is not subject to the tax on wine, or to the provisions of this part."

    Translation: You are allowed to produce cider outside of a bonded wine premises (that is, the licensed federal winery), and if you do, it is not subject to the taxes or other restrictions placed on wine.

    Also, I'd like to know where your 300 gallons combined for beer and wine comes from. I've never seen that in the actual regulations.
    <a href=\"http://www.slezakfarms.com\" target=\"_blank\">http://www.slezakfarms.com</a>

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