Brewers Heritage Festival Underway Without Home Brewers

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- It is a busy weekend in Downtown St. Louis, especially around Busch Stadium, thanks to a Cardinals home stand, and The St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival, which has changed locations from Forest Park to Ballpark Village.

But some of the buzz at the festival this year is about a dislocation. For the first time in the festival`s history, home brewers will not be allowed offer their samples to the public.

The trouble started last week, when the city excise commissioner notified festival organizers there was a problem.

"We love home brewers but we didn't know they were part of it," said St. Louis Public Safety Director Eddie Roth.

"We got a complaint from a member of the public asking if they are allowed to sell home brew beer at a pay festival. And our excise commissioner looked into it and, sure enough, while Missouri is not a super restrictive state when it comes to home brew stuff, you can`t sell it," Roth said.

That decision has left home brewers, like Jerid Safell crying in their beer, and stuck with a lot of it. Safell made five gallons of Pale Ale and five gallons of Belgian Saison to offer at the festival.

"People are just bummed out because in general it stinks," Safell said.

Among the disappointed are the festival's organizers, who learned of the problem too late to come up with a work around.

"Everybody wants to figure this out because this is a beer state, a beer town, and home brewing has become such a part of the beer culture. So many brewers, like those at the festival, got their start as home brewers," said Dan Kopman, CEO of Schlafly Brewing, and one of the festival's organizers.

City officials are also hoping to find a solution.

"Our ordinance mirrors state law and we just have to get with state regulators and industry people and home brew people and make this work," Roth said.

Home brewers will still be at the festival, giving out information about the various brewing clubs in St. Louis and offering free samples of homemade soda.

While organizers search for a legal way to include home brewers in next year's festival, there are plans being made for a consolation event.  Sometime in the next few weeks, a private festival is being planned so that home brewers can share their beer with each other, legally.

The Brewers Heritage Festival takes place June 15 – 17.  Tickets are $35 at the gate.

Get more details on the Brewers Festival Facebook page. 

You can also visit StLBrewfest.com.

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