RSS

Category Archives: Beer Industry

Helping brewers for almost 20 years, Florida Brewers Guild holds first conference

For updates and information from the Florida Brewers Conference, keep an eye on the Folio Weekly Pint-Sized Facebook page.

brewers_Guild_conferenceThe art of brewing beer is more than just combining a few ingredients, boiling them at the proper temperature for the appropriate amount of time and allowing the resulting liquid to ferment. Brewing requires knowledge of what is legally allowed to be brewed, of who can supply ingredients and packaging and how beer can be distributed. In addition, brewers must be savvy small businessmen with a handle on how to keep books, how to manage employees and who to turn to for legal assistance.

That is where the Florida Brewers Guild comes in.

“The Guild,” explained Florida Brewers Guild Executive Director, Sean Nordquist. “First and foremost, exists to help support Florida brewery’s rights and interests.”

Formed more than 20 years ago by Tampa area brewers, the Florida Brewers Guild is the trade organization for the state’s breweries. They exist to help brewers by promoting and sponsoring events, educating consumers and insuring the Florida legislature hears craft brewery’s voices over the thunderous din of macro-brewers, distributors and other special interest groups.

In a time when some experts and industry insiders are opining that the breakneck speed of craft beer’s growth is beginning to slow, Nordquist remains optimistic.

Statistics compiled by the Brewers Association, the national trade organizations that represents craft brewers, show that Florida is 10th in the nation for number of breweries, but only 43rd in breweries per 100,000 persons. That gap, Nordquist believes, leaves a lot of room for more breweries to open and thrive in the Sunshine State.

“We are going to continue to see new breweries popping up seemingly every week,” Nordquist enthused. “Some will make it, some will not. It’s going to come down to those that have a combination of a great product, good business practices and local consumer support.”

He also sees a trend for hyper-local nano-breweries like the recently opened Hyperion Brewing Company and the soon-to-open Main & Six Brewing Company, both in the Springfield National Historic District.

“If you are not packaging, your tasting room is your bread and butter,” Nordquist said of the nano trend. “You have to have a great product. And that extends to making community an extension of the brand. It brings in more local consumers who may not ordinarily go to a brewery by making it a local gathering place.”

This year, for the first time, the Guild is hosting a conference August 7-9 to bring the state’s brewers together in Orlando for three days. Activities include panel discussions on topics ranging from brewing with Florida ingredients to trademark law, guest speakers like Garret Oliver of Brooklyn Brewing Company and Jim Koch of Samuel Adams Brewing Company and mingling with industry leaders in an expo hall filled with more than 30 vendors.

“Breweries in the state have grown exponentially,” said Nordquist of the conference. “Just a few years ago Florida only had something like 40 breweries. Now we have over 200. We want brewers to learn from each other, to learn about services that are out there and to have an opportunity to meet with their peers.”

Nordquist expects the Conference to draw as many as 300 attendees drawing brewers and others like distributer representatives, suppliers, legal and other allied brewing services.

“I think you’re going to see more companies wanting to do business with Florida brewing,” he says of what he expects to see after the conference. “I also hope we will see breweries taking the things they learn at the conference and adopt them to make better beer.”

That is a sentiment we can all get behind.

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 4, 2017 in Beer, Beer Industry

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Beer taxation here to stay

BEER5147-SlowGrowth-Graphic

Credit: The Beer Institute

Alcohol, and beer in particular, has always had a target of sorts on its back. Historians note that the first records of taxes levied on beer date back all the way to the days of the Egyptians. German brewers in Hamburg were taxed so harshly in the 1600s that the number of breweries dwindled from over 1500 at the beginning of the century to only 120 by 1698. And, whoa be to the brewer who did not pay his taxes in Aix-la-Chapelle, France where the city council of 1271 mandated chopping off the brewer’s right hand should he fail to pay his taxes.

Yes, the taxman has not been kind to the poor brewer throughout history. And, in a startling case of history repeating itself, governments – local, state and national – have once again taken notice of the bustling beer industry and the tax dollars it can generate.

As it stands now, beer is federally taxed at $18 a barrel equating to about 58 cents per gallon according to the Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Association craft beer industry group. Extrapolating that out even further; that 12-ounce bottle of beer you enjoy so very much is taxed about 5 cents by Uncle Sam. But, that rate only applies to the largest of breweries that produce more than 60,000 barrels of beer per year. Smaller breweries that produce less than 60,000 barrels – and the first 60,000 barrels produced by larger brewers – pony up just $7 per barrel or about 2 cents per can or bottle. That may seem like a deal comparatively, but in a competitive market of more than 5,000 breweries, every penny counts. And, that is just the feds. You might be appalled at what brewers have to pay in state excise taxes.

Florida is middle of the road with their tax on beer at 48 cents per gallon, but try to peddle beer in Tennessee and you will have to pony up $1.29 per gallon between state excise taxes and wholesale taxes. That is nearly a whopping $40 per 31-gallon half barrel. Compare that with Wisconsin where beer is taxed at a mere two cents per gallon.

Fortunately, there is a group in Washington that wants to see some of these taxes reduced on the federal side at least. The Beer Institute, an industry lobbying organization, and the Brewers Association rolled out the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA). The goal of the act is to reduce the federal excise tax on the first 60,000 barrels a brewery produces in a year from $7 to $3.50 as long as the brewer produces less than two million barrels annually.

In a statement made after the bill was introduced, president and CEO of the Beer Institute Jim McGreevy said, “Today, the beer industry supports more than 1.75 million U.S. jobs and generates nearly $253 billion in economic activity, which is equal to about 1.5% of the U.S. GDP.”

If passed, the legislation would represent a savings to America’s brewers of $131 million as estimated by the Brewers Association using 2015 figures.

While the federal bill will not affect how states levy taxes, it could provide a welcome respite to brewers besieged with taxes. But, in the end, short of a Boston Tea Party style revolt, beer is going to be taxed. Whether the rate equates to an arm (or hand) and a leg will depend on where you buy the beer you enjoy. And, I for one do not plan to stop enjoying a cold one because of a few pennies in taxes.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Beer, Beer Industry

 

Tags: , , ,

AB-InBev stirs the kettle at Super Bowl once again

NotAHobbyThe Super Bowl is over and that means that Anheuser-Busch/InBev has succeeded in raising the ire of someone in the craft beer world. This time they took aim at hobbiests who enjoy brewing their own beers and by association many craft beer breweries that come from home brewing roots.

The offending ad, titled Not Backing Down, features Budweiser and asserts that making the beer is “NOT A HOBBY.” The thing is, home brewers agree with this sentiment. BUt, likely for reasons other than the mega brewer intended.

In a new blog post, American Homebrewers Association Director Gary Glass reacts to the ad.

Below is an excerpt:
The hobby of making beer is usually done in small batches at home by passionate beer lovers. Budweiser is made in massive automated factories (not what I would consider “brewed the hard way,” as suggested by a Budweiser ad aired during last year’s Super Bowl)—it’s actually about as far from a hobby as you can get. As homebrewers, we brew beer because we love beer with full flavor and by brewing beer ourselves we can hone in on the flavors we like most. 

Read the full post and share the link

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 9, 2016 in Beer, Beer Industry

 

Tags: , , ,

Left hand Brewing Company sponsors bike team to help fight MS

Team-Left-Hand-LogoIt has long been a tenet of the craft beer industry that its members are a particularly philanthropic bunch. Maybe it is because the community is so tight-knit and more established breweries pitch in to help new breweries get up and started. Maybe it is because of the grassroots nature of the business. Or, maybe it is just that craft beer people have big hearts. No matter what the cause, it is a well-represented phenomenon and Longmont, Colo. stalwart Left Hand Brewing Company is carrying on the tradition.

Team Left Hand (TLH) is a cycling team that is participating in the Bike MS rides to help end Multiple Sclerosis. The team participates in three national rides, raising both money and awareness for the debilitating disease.  This year will mark the seventh year the team has participated in the Bike MS ride in Colorado, its second in North Carolina and its debut in the Florida ride.

Team Left Hand consists of over 180 riders from across the U.S., who volunteer their time and effort to help the National MS Society fund research, advocate for change, and help people living with MS. The team’s inspiration lies in the friends & family afflicted by Multiple Sclerosis, motivating each member to work towards their personal goal of raising at least $1000 a year. To date the team has raised over $940,000 for the cause.

Carolyn Graham, District Manager and North Florida Brand Manager for Brown Distributing, the distributor that supplies Left Hand Brewing Company beers to Florida, will be participating in the Florida ride this year. In this, her third year of participating in the ride with TLH, Graham said, “I have family friends living with MS and I feel extremely blessed and honored to be able help people with MS and to raise awareness and funds for research. It’s an honor to be a part of this ride that provides support for the person living with MS and their families.”

She summed up her reasons for riding as, “I ride so that one day MS will one day stand for Mystery Solved.”

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease with symptoms ranging from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, affecting 2.3 million people worldwide. Team Left Hand currently rides for 80 people, whose names are honored on the team’s jersey. As the list of names grows longer, TLH’s resolve to solve the MS mystery grows stronger.

The Florida Bike MS ride — Bike MS: PGA Tour Cycle to the Shore – takes place September 20 and 21. There are three routes that riders can choose from depending on their riding skill level. Details can be found on the National MS Society website or by clicking this link. More information about Team Left hand can be found at the Left Hand Brewing Company website or at this link.

The Jax Beer Guy has partnered with the UBER car service in Jacksonville. Because of this partnership, you can receive a $20 credit for your first ride by simply using the promo code “JaxBeerGuy” when you register for UBER on your smartphone. 

Click HERE to sign up now!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Beer, Beer Industry

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Law restricting Florida craft beer breweries up for vote

NY State Ends Tax Exemptions For In State Breweries After Lawsuit From Out Of StateThings have been brewing in Florida’s state legislature, but not to the benefit of the state’s craft beer brewers. In fact, one bill – Senate Bill 1714 – makes it illegal for a brewery that produces more than 2,00 kegs per year to sell its own beer in bottles or cans directly to consumers. Instead, the brewery must sell the beer to a distributor and then purchase it back at the distributor’s price, typically 30% to 40% higher.

Jacksonville brewery owner Ben Davis of Intuition Ale Works has made it his mission to defeat the bill and preserve the rights of Florida brewers to sell their own beer in their tap rooms. Davis has attended sessions at the Florida senate where the bill has been discussed and even hired a lobbyist to work the political circles and inform elected officials of the damage 1714 would cause. In an interview on Jacksonville television station WJXT, Davis said, “It’s going to kill us. It’ll make us question our whole business plan… I think basically it’s going to push future brewers into other markets, other states.”

Watch the entire story from WJXT by clicking the link at the bottom of this article.

In a press release dated April 21, 2014, Eric Criss, president of the Beer Industry of Florida – the industry association for Miller/Coors distributors in Florida – made it clear that his organization was opposed to SB 1714. In the release Criss said, “Brewers and distributors are good partners and some craft brewers need limited retail privileges to build their businesses.  Therefore, it’s in distributors’ interest that small brewers should have a well-defined, limited exception in the statute that allows them to operate as retailers, both on-premise and off-premise.”

Criss also came out in support of 64-ounce growlers, currently banned in Florida, but the industry standard in 47 other states.

On the other hand, the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association has been a strong proponent of the bill and has more than doubled its contributions to the re-election campaign of senators who have voted to pass the measure. According to an article in the Miami Herald April 22, 2014, the association has contributed $65,600 to 2014 or 2016 senate re-election campaigns.

In addition, Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, came right out and told the Associated Press that he would support the bill unquestioningly because craft breweries were a problem to his friend Lewis Bear, owner of the Anheuser-Busch distributorship in Florida’s panhandle. Gaetz received more than $8,000 in contributions from beer distributors for his 2012 campaign with Bear anteing up $2,000.

Mitch Rubin, executive director and lobbyist for the Anheuser-Busch distributer group Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, told Reuters their goal is to re-write the state’s rules governing the craft brewing industry to create strict lines between manufacturers, distributors and retailers, which he said would preserve competition. But, many industry insiders say the actual result of the bill would be to eliminate small breweries that need the ability to sell packaged beer from their tap rooms to foster their own growth.

Still, Senator Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, the legislation goal is to bolster the three-tier system of alcohol distribution set up by the federal government after Prohibition. In the three-tier system brewers must sell their beer to distributors who then sell the beer to retailers. The system was originally put in place to keep large beer companies from monopolizing the industry. Somehow, that same system has now been turned to the favor of the mega-beer producers who carry political clout because of their deep pockets and campaign sponsorships.

Senate Bill 1714 has already passed its committee hearings and will be brought up to the full senate on Monday, April 28. Senate has until the end of the scheduled legislative session to pass the bill or it is considered dead. The scheduled date to close the current legislative session in the Florida senate is Friday, May 2.

Intuition Ale Works and Davis have announced that they will hold a post-legislative session wrap-up event at the brewery Saturday, May 3starting at 2:00 p.m. According to the Intuition website, Davis “will provide an overview and behind-the-scenes perspective of the anti-craft beer measures that moved through legislature during the 2014 session.” Davis will also provide information on how craft beer lovers can get involved and support the Florida craft beer industry.

If you wish to express your opinion on SB 1714 you may write your state senator. To find the address of your senator, go to the senate website at: http://www.flsenate.gov/about/contact.

You may also contact Mitch Rubin at the Florida Beer Wholesalers Association at:

Florida Beer Wholesalers Association
215 South Monroe Street, Suite 340
Tallahassee, FL 32301
(850) 224-2337

WJXT story on SB1714

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 25, 2014 in Beer Industry

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

SweetWater 420 to be served on Delta flights to NYC

Photo courtesy of: alesharpton.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy of: alesharpton.blogspot.com

If you are flying from the Southeastern United States to just about anywhere else chances are you will have a stop at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Located seven miles south of downtown Atlanta, Hartsfield has had the distinction of being the busiest airport in the world since 1998. Nearly 95 million people pass through the concourses of the airport every year to board nearly 1 million flights. By any accounting, that is a lot of traffic.

Hartsfield-Jackson is also the central hub for one of the nation’s largest airlines; Delta. With almost 1,000 flights per day Delta ushers over 59% of their passengers through the airport. And it is because of those numbers that Delta’s new partnership with another Atlanta icon; SweetWater Brewing Company.

In an announcement made through Facebook in Thursday, March 27, SweetWater announced that cans of their flagship 420 Pale Ale will be stocked on all Delta flights bound for LaGuardia Airport in New York beginning April 1, 2014.

Prior to just a few months ago, it was impossible for SweetWater’s beers to be made available on flights because they were only packaged in glass bottles. With the higher precautions do to the events of 9/11, glass and airplanes just doesn’t mix. But, cans are perfectly acceptable for aircraft.

420 is one of the first craft beers to make it on to Delta’s in-flight menu and the brewery could not be happier. In an article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, SweetWater founder Freddie Bench said, “Our new cans eliminate the glass restrictions that previously held us back from offering our beer in great spots like airplanes, stadiums, beaches and more.”

In March, the brewery began canning 420 using a special can-conditioning process that produces a stable beer with a longer shelf life. The process is similar to the used by many brewers to “bottle-condition” beers. A small amount of sugar and yeast is added to the bottle before it is sealed, as the yeast eats the sugar it also removes any oxygen that may be in the can. By removing oxygen, the bane of all beer, the brewery extends the beer’s shelf life.

Delta will also serve SweetWater 420 on flights from Atlanta to Denver April 7-9 during the Craft Brewer’s Conference.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Beer Cans, Beer News

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Craft Breweries take a can-do approach to packaging

IMG_0814

Photo by Marc Wisdom

The following article is brought to you by a new contributor to The Jax Beer Guy Blog, Lisa Jarman. Lisa brings a fresh and feminine outlook to the craft beer scene that should appeal to readers of both genders.

Join me in welcoming Lisa to the blog, we look forward to more interesting and engaging articles down the road.

Craft Breweries Take a Can-Do Approach to Packaging

By Lisa Jarman

The concept of craft beer in a can is heavily contested in the industry. Breweries such as Oskar Blues have been doing it successfully for years, while others have stuck to bottles for their packaging needs. But all that could be about to change. Gone is the stigma attached to the beer cans of old, as the beer can makes its comeback with fresh appeal. The aluminium can industry has been working with breweries to develop a can that doesn’t just protect the flavor of the beer it contains, but actually adds a few advantages of its own. The times certainly are a changing, and as the founder of the Boston Beer Co, Jim Koch, puts it, “It’s not your father’s beer can anymore.”

So what are the advantages of the humble can, and can beer really taste as good – or even better – than it does from a bottle?

Greener beer

Extracting aluminium from its ore is an energy intensive operation, and it’s easy to assume that a good old-fashioned glass bottle is going to do less damage to the environment than an aluminium can. However, according to Pablo Paster at Tree Hugger, it takes just 15g of aluminium to hold the same volume of beer as 170g of glass could. This not only cancels out the higher amount of energy required to obtain the aluminium, but also means that the impact of transporting the beer is lower in cans than it is in bottles, as the load is lighter and therefore requires less fuel per centimeter cubed of beer.

Once the can has been emptied and the beer enjoyed, it is apparently more likely that a can will be recycled than a bottle, as the recycling rates for glass are considerably lower than the recycling rates of aluminium. Recycling aluminium also has a greater impact than recycling glass, as the energy required to recycle glass is not far off the amount of energy required to produce it in the first place.

Savoring the taste

Despite the common opinion that beer tastes worse from a can than it does from a bottle, the can does provide benefits to the taste as well as the environment. Paster writes that, according to the founder of the Maui Brewing Company, “beer has three enemies; oxidation, light and heat”, and so breweries are finally coming to recognize that cans can protect the beer from at least two out of the three.

Brian O’Reilly, brewmaster at Sly Fox, praises the can: “Really, the one thing that’s really beautiful about beer in a can is the seal. The double seam on top, the way the end or the lid gets sealed to the can, protects the beer from oxygen much, much better than a crown.”

The can may not be able to protect the beer from the heat, but it can protect it from the light as well as from oxygen, which is not something that can be said of the bottle. This means that beer in a can travels better and can enjoy a longer shelf life than beer in a bottle, and that drinkers can enjoy a better taste. New developments in can production have also led to different lips and lids that come of completely, so making it easier to drink from than an ordinary ring-pull can.

The practicality of a can

The lighter weight of canned beer has already been considered as an environmental advantage, but it’s more practical for consumers, too. A camping trip, barbecue on the beach or even just a walk home from the store is going be a lot easier with a six pack of cans than a six pack of bottles. Given that cans tend to contain a greater volume of beer than bottles, consumers can enjoy more beer for their efforts. Once again, after the beer has been enjoyed, the cans can be crushed down to take up as little space as possible on the journey home, rather than having to carry a cumbersome and clanking bag of bottles back to the car.

Branding, marketing and twenty-first century technology

From the breweries’ perspective, the cans bring far greater advertising possibilities than bottles, in that the entire can can be covered in branding. New technology can also add a little novelty to the can, which can make it more appealing to consumers. This may not be as relevant to smaller craft breweries, but the larger lager companies have certainly been taking advantage of it. Coors, for example, sold its Coors Light in ‘cold-activated cans’, which showed an image of mountains on the can that turned from white to blue as the can cooled to the right temperature. More recently, Budweiser launched its ‘bowtie can‘, created by Annheuser-Busch. Craft beers these are not, but they have certainly attracted some market attention.

The possibilities for decorating cans are far greater than the possibilities for decorating bottles, which presents huge opportunities to breweries either to use the can to attract the attention of consumers, or to increase their revenue through advertising for other companies. There is also the novelty aspect of can decoration – as demonstrated by Budweiser and Coors – which could see companies offering uniquely-decorated cans of beer to their clients, to complement other branded freebies such as cooling can jackets and personalized beer glasses. Other partnerships could spring up in the beer industry, taking their lead from publicity partnerships such as Coca-Cola and John Paul Gaultier. In 2012, the designer teamed up with Coca-Cola to create limited edition cans of Diet Coke. It’s only really the beginning for canned beer, but it wouldn’t be completely surprising if this sort of advertising and branding continued to pop up throughout the industry.

Ultimately, when it comes down to it, if the beer doesn’t taste good then customers won’t keep coming back. It’s all very well offering a gimmick or mildly interesting variation on packaging, but as Koch says: “If it doesn’t make the beer taste better, then don’t do it just to get noticed. The customer will reward you with more of their business if you give them a better tasting product than their alternatives.”

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 27, 2013 in Beer Cans, Beer Industry

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,