Yes, Home brewing of wine and beer is legal in India for personal use with some exceptions:
- Dry states like Gujarat, Bihar, Nagaland, and dry districts do not permit any alcohol production. Which means no fermenting homemade wine or brewing beer.
- Distillation is illegal and dangerous (methanol poisoning, explosion risks). Hence it is banned without a proper license.
- Commercial sale is banned for any alcoholic wine or beer unless requisite taxes and permits are in place.
Refer to our FAQ for more specific answers.
Yes Home brewing is legal in India. but you need to follow three golden rules:
- No Distillation
- No commercial activity/sale
- No crossing of state boundaries.
Alcohol is primarily regulated by the State Excise Department. Most states have excise department website where you can get more details on the regulations and taxes. As long as you don’t live in a dry state (Gujarat, Bihar, Nagaland etc.) and stockpile less than permissible limits you are safe.
If your product has <0.5% alcohol at the time of sale, then it will not come under excise regulations and can be commercialized. That being said, FSSAI has jurisdiction on food safety and standards. Any food product produced commercially needs to adhere to FSSAI norms. They have accredited laboratories all over the country that can help you with testing and compliance for non-alcoholic probiotics as well.
So many products around you are fermented: curd, cheese, black tea, coffee, olives, bread, and pickle. Not all fermentation is alcohol.
For centuries, fermentation was the method of choice for the preservation of food, purification of water and enhancing the taste & nutritional value of the food ingredients. Making alcohol and getting drunk was never the central obsession of the society. It had more benign purposes like food preservation in the absence of refrigerator and preservatives.
You can make several probiotic food recipes like pickles, cheese, curd, vinegar, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, idli/ dosa batter or even bread at home which are fermented foods and do not contain any alcohol.
Home Distillation a.k.a. moon-shining without a license is illegal in India (and most parts of the developed world). At Arishtam, we don’t stock any distillation columns, moonshine stills or help with tutorials on distillation.
Some Ayurveda practitioners and makers of natural aromatic oil do distill essential oils from their brews but it is not with the intent of extraction of alcohol. That being said, there are lesser restrictions on wine, beer and other non-distilled fermentations.
You cannot engage in the commercial sale of your home brew liquor without paying the requisite taxes and holding licenses/ permits. This includes hosting paid events where home brew is served or encouraging your patrons to pay for your ingredients or entry fee. Even bartering/ exchanging alcohol for goods and services is considered as a notional sale and is illegal.
Non alcoholic ferments like probiotic Kombucha, ginger ale, kefir, miso etc. can be sold if your finished product as an alcohol concentration of less than 0.5% v/v. If you want to commercially market a non-alcoholic probiotic ferment, please visit any of the FSSAI testing laboratories for the requisite lab test reports and documentation. I have found ICAR, Ministry of Agriculture also very helpful in research and development for indigenous recipes.
Do not try to cross state boundaries with alcohol. This includes road, air, train, etc. Most states have checkpoints and can unnecessarily harass/ penalize the defaulters.
Even couriering bottles and wine bladders is not easy. Firstly most courier companies will not accept liquids and mis-declaration is an offence. Then you need permissions (NOC) from the state excise of the state where you are dispatching the beverage to. Home brewing is strictly for personal consumption.
Certain states esp. Gujarat, Bihar, Manipur, Lakshadweep, Nagaland and certain holy/ religious districts/ regions/ places of the country have been marked as dry states for various reasons. Manufacture of alcohol is restricted to purely industrial use only, that too with prior permission in these regions. Please check the local laws before proceeding. However, except for the dry states/ regions, we are yet to encounter any law that explicitly prohibits individuals from home brewing for personal consumption in limited batch size.
Unlike Europe or US, India has no annual quota or limits on the quantity of alcohol (wine, beers, ciders and undistilled beverages) you can home-brew. Instead, the Indian Excise Department has put restrictions on the quantity that can be stocked at any given point of time.
Each state has its own limits on what is constituted as commercial quantity. As long as you are brewing/stocking below this threshold and don’t reside in a Dry state, you should be safe. I am yet to encounter any law/ government memo limiting the number of batches or number of home-brew parties one can throw, but checking with the local officials is always advisable before you start taking this hobby seriously. Permissible limit to stock as per some state laws are:
- Karnataka: 18.5 liters of beer or 9 liters of wine.
- Delhi: 18 liters of wine, beer or cider
- Punjab: 1 case of beer (more with a L-50 permit issued lifetime or annually.
- Haryana: 12 bottles of beer or wine (more with L-50 permit)
- Rajasthan: 12 bottles of beer or wine
- Himachal Pradesh: 48 bottles of beer or wine
- Goa: 24 bottles of beer
Consuming alcohol in public places, while driving, encouraging minors to drink, etc. is unlawful under Section 268 of IPC. Also, try to be in harmony with the religious sentiments of the neighborhood. If your home brewing hobby is resulting in public nuisance or hardships to your neighborhood then it might lead to a problem. Fermentation is a natural transformation of food through microbes. It makes the food more desirable and prevents spoilage. Talk to them and explain it to them.
Undistilled homebrews are reasonably safe and a 7,000-year-old art that pre-dates civilization. However, death and injury due to negligence, rash action can lead to a case under IPC 304A or worse homicide. Not to mention, explosions/ accidents that can happen during amateur distillation, are considered terrorist activities.
Be careful about exposure to minors. The legal age to drink varies by state (Delhi for example has set it to a high threshold of 25 years). Instigating minors to drink or not preventing (inaction) them to source alcohol is an offense.
On smell, trust me, if it smells offensive then it is definitely composting and is not edible fermentation. My fermenter sits comfortably on top of my refrigerator which is in the middle of my living room and neither my wife, kids or my guests ever complained. On the contrary you get a nice fruity smell similar to one from a ripe fruit orchard.
One of the easiest ways to get your toes wet in this hobby would be the hooch recipe or toddy recipe. They can be practiced with simple ingredients found in one’s kitchen and do not need any investment.
Hooch is a crude American term for any unfinished, freshly fermented wine or alcoholic beverage. It has a negative connotation because the product is often homemade with primitive fermentation techniques and hence equivalent to Desi Daru (देसी दारू) As per excise department, it is also categorized under the same category.
Toddy is the Indian term for Indian country/village wines which are not made from a traditional recipe i.e. not following a European grape wine recipe or a British/American apple cider recipe. This Indian traditional alcoholic beverage has a variety of medical, religious, psychological, and even psychedelic effects. Like the Native American Indian culture, Toddy making is acceptable (or overlooked by authorities) as part of a traditional religious and cultural practices. We tried to map a few on this map of India.
Wine on the other hand, is a more refined sophisticated beverage that can be bottled and stored. Hooch and Toddy needs to be consumed within a day or two or it will become too sour and dry for consumption. They typically take 4-8 weeks to make compared to 2-3 days for toddy. Most wines are aged for 6 months to two years before it is ready for serving while country beer/hooch/toddy are served fresh.
YES, it is completely legal to make wine and hard apple cider at home in India for personal use except in states where it is banned like Bihar, Gujarat, Lakshadweep, Manipur, and Nagaland. Just remember the following 4 golden rules:
- Do sell alcohol or engage in commercial activity without license permits and tax approvals.
- Do not try to distill into brandy, vodka, whiskey, rum, gin, etc.
- Keep your batch size small (below state-specific restrictions on how much alcohol you can ferment or store under your roof).
- Also, don’t try to ship alcohol or cross state boundaries.
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 purposes. For a detailed list of regulations refer here.
The literature mentioned here should not be constituted as legal advice or instigation to break the laws. The advice mentioned here is only to explain the laws and regulations in a simple language and should not be constituted as complete. Please consult a qualified legal & tax attorney before fermenting wines or beer.
The aim of Arishtam is to educate you on the ancient process, best safe practices, and nudge you towards reviving the ancient traditions and recipes. Fermentation wines or craft beers should not be an occult art or a mystery practiced by a few but should be a democratic movement for the wise masses. Most enthusiasts have many questions on the safety and legality about fermentation at home. Here, we try to address some of the concerns.
If you are a first-time brewer then browse our recipe section and try out your first home brewing kit,