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Category Archives: Beer News

Georgia’s allows taproom beer sales starting Friday, September 1

IMG_4752Since the end of prohibition, liquor laws have been under the control of each individual state. Most states enacted three-tier system laws that separated alcohol producers from retail outlets via a middle man or distributor. But, many states, even though they passed three-tier system laws, left wiggle room for small producers that allowed them to sell their products in self-run tasting rooms. Georgia was not one of those states. Until today, that is.

As Prohibition came to an end, lawmakers wanted a way to prevent the proliferation of “tied houses” or saloons that served beer from only one brewery. Before Prohibition, saloons were extremely competitive. Most areas had several, each tied to a different brewery. To enhance their beer’s prominence, brewers enticed bar owners to pledge fealty to them by providing loans for furniture and bar equipment under the stipulation that the bar only serve their beer. Breweries ran aggressive marketing campaigns and often applied pressure to their tied barkeeps to sell more and more beer. Often the result was overconsumption and drunkenness leading to deteriorating social situations. Add the specter of mob-controlled distribution and speakeasy networks during Prohibition and it was apparent a change had to be made.

The answer, or so the lawmakers of post-Prohibition America thought, was to put in place a three-tier system in which brewers or distillers could not sell directly to consumers or retailers, they could only sell their products to distributors who could then turn around and sell the product to retailers at a marked-up price. Lawmakers saw this as a way to prevent tied-houses and their overpowering influence. What they accomplished in many instances was to simply shift the corruption from overpowering breweries to distributors who forced breweries into distribution contracts that heavily favored the distributor and prevented producers from breaking the contract even if the distributor failed to market a product effectively.

This inequity is what led to a years-long fight for brewer’s rights in Georgia.

As early as 2001, Georgia’s lawmakers were conducting studies to determine the fairness of the three-tier system. In 2013, the subject was again taken up with brewers appearing before a committee to discuss the issues presented by a strict system that forbids them from selling to consumers directly from their breweries.

“This issue,” Said Rick Tanner of Cherry Street Brewing Cooperative to the commission. “Is more about competitive economic development than it is about alcohol distribution systems.”

In the end, the 2013 study simply made the suggestion that brew pubs be allowed to sell growlers of beer as long as it was purchased with a meal consumed at the brew pub and that it was partially consumed before leaving the premises.

Then, again in 2015, the subject was broached in the Georgia senate. The Republican Senator Hunter Hill from Smyrna introduced Senate Bill 63, that allowed breweries to offer “souvenirs” of their products to customers who took a “tour” of their facilities. While the bill fell short of small brewers’ hopes of being allowed to self-distribute in a limited capacity, it opened the door for future reform.

Finally, in February 2017 Senate Bill 85 was proposed. The Bill would allow the state’s licensed breweries to sell up to 288 ounces of beer — equal to 24 12-ounce bottles — to patrons at their taprooms with a direct sales limit of 3,000 barrels per year or about one million bottles.

Eventually, the Bill passed and Georgia’s governor signed it into law. Starting today Georgia’s breweries can now sell beer to their taproom visitors by the pint, bottle, can or even keg.

Across the state, breweries are hosting celebrations to mark the occasion. In Atlanta, SweetWater Brewing is marking the occasion with new tours and full pours for sale, while Red Brick is offering full pours and case sales. In Cobb County, Burnt Hickory is offering case sales of their brews at a special price, while Macon Beer Company in Macon will mark the day with a ceremonial first full pour.

 

 

 

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Posted by on September 1, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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Brewers Association seeks to differentiate craft beer with Independent Craft seal

Brewers-Association-Independent-Craft-stamp-badge-logo-BeerPulseThe landscape of craft beer has gone from one of unfettered growth to that of a battleground for small, independent brewers fighting to eek out a place in the now crowded marketplace. To make the fight more difficult, the two mega brewers that control 90% of the  United State’s beer production — Anheuser-Bush/InBev and Molson Coors — seem to be on a tear to snatch up as many craft brewers as they can, muddying the field and confusing consumers as to who actually produces the beer they are drinking.

According to a blog post dated July 19 on the Brewers Association’s (BA) website, as the craft beer movement started to reach its crescendo and begin slowing, brewers began speaking out regarding the need for a way to differentiate their products from those produced by the mega brewers or breweries owned by them. An idea that had been kicked around for decades came to the forefront again and, on June 27, 2017, the BA announced the creation of the Independent Craft Brewer seal.

The seal is a logo designed to be displayed on packaging and advertising on products brewed by breweries that conform to the BA’s definition of a craft brewery. To qualify, a brewery must produce less than six million barrels of beer annually and be less than 25% owned by alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer. It depicts an upside-down beer bottle that symbolizes how the craft brewing movement turned the beer brewing industry on its head.

During the design of the seal, research showed that almost all beer lovers have some interest in a “certification badge” or seal to identify independently owned craft breweries believing such a seal would support small businesses. Indeed, a Brewbound/Nielsen Harris Poll of 2,000 beer lovers conducted in May 2017 indicated overwhelmingly that beer drinkers want to know who is making the beer they drink.

“People want to know when they are supporting locally owned and operated businesses, in this case breweries, that are independent from the big corporations,” said Sean Nordquist, Executive Director of the Florida Brewers Guild. “People want to know that their money is going towards local businesses rather than multi-national corporations.”

 

With the seal, the BA hopes to clarify who is making the beer consumers are drinking. Especially as the mega brewers continue to purchase craft brewers and introduce “crafty” beers to the market that mimic craft styles.

Since the announcement of the seal, nearly 25-percent of the independent craft brewers in the United States have adopted it in some form.

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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American Homebrewers Association releases recipe guide containing instructions to make iconic brews

American-Homebrewers-Association-LogoEveryday I receive emails from around the beer world that keep me informed on what is happening within the industry. From time to time I come across a story that I share with you, my faithful readers. Today, I came across a press release from the American Homebrewers Association (AHA) touting its inaugural 50-State Commercial Beer Clone Recipes Guide.

Now, I know there are a few homebrewers out there that have always wanted to try their hand at cloning some of the countries most iconic craft beers like Pliney the Elder from Russian River Brewing, Two-Hearted from Bells Brewing or Belgian Red Ale from New Glarus. Well, the AHA guide supplies the recipes to these and 47 other brews scaled down to five- to 10-gallon batches.

“With both the craft beer industry and the hobby of homebrewing continuing to expand nationwide,” said Gary Glass, Director, American Homebrewers Association in the press release. “These recipes offer beer lovers the opportunity to make their favorite local brews at home.”

The AHA reached out to breweries across in every state across the country and asked them to contribute a recipe for the guide. The result was a collection of iconic and up-and-coming recipes ready for homebrewers to create on their next brew day. Among the recipes collected is Unholy Trippel for Florida’s own Coppertail Brewing Company.

See the entire guide at the link below.

50-State Commercial Beer Clone Recipes Guide

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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Flying Dog leaves Brewers Association over censorship accusations

unnamedIn April 2017, the Brewers Association (BA), a trade group that serves the craft beer industry, enacted a set of rules designed to stem the use of sexist and offensive brewery and beer names (see Brewers Association standing up to breweries, beers with offensive names, labels). But, Flying Dog Brewery sees the move by the BA as an overt attempt at censorship. And, to protest the move, Flying Dog CEO Jim Caruso has severed ties with the industry group.

In a letter dated July 14, 2017 and addressed to BA CEO Bob Pease, Caruso says that the policy, “… is an attempt by the BA to censor beer names that offend the sensibilities of some at the BA, primarily by trying to intimidate breweries into censoring themselves.”

In the BA’s policy, a procedure is laid out on how brewers can police their peers — Caruso reads this as competitors — by lodging a formal complaint. Should the offending brewery cease advertising or using a name that is considered offensive by the reporting brewery within 30 days of the complaint, the matter is considered closed. But, if the name and/or advertising is not ceased, a sort of tribunal is convened. The final decision of the tribunal — in reality a group of three BA appointed representatives — is published on the BA’s website for all the world to read. In addition, names found to be offensive will be banned from being spoken at BA sanctioned events like the Great American Beer Festival, Savour and more. If a brewery or beer with a name deemed offensive happens to win a medal in a competition at one of these events, they will not be publicly identified. Winners are also banned from using Brewers Association intellectual property such as identifying a banned beer name as a medal winner in a BA sanctioned event.

Caruso sees all this as forms of censorship, thought policing and just plain creepy.

No stranger to the fight to end censorship, Caruso fought the the Michigan Liquor Control Commission in 2009 for similar reasons. In the landmark case, Caruso alleged that the commissioners could not legally reject a label just because they didn’t like it. It took six year of battle in federal courts, but ultimately Flying Dog won the suit and set a federal precedent that freedom of speech applies to beer, wine and spirits labels as well as individuals.

In the six-page letter to Pease, Caruso goes on to explain why he so strongly opposes the BA’s stance on so called offensive name sand labels. He brings to the forefront the specters of McCarthyism, communism, Leninism, Marxism, Stalinism and socialism. He holds the example of Lenny Bruce’s persecution that drove him to suicide for doing nothing more than telling jokes using vulgar language during midnight shows attended only by paying adults.

“The insurmountable problem with what the BA is attempting to do,” Caruso says. “Is that the term “offensive” is not definable in any objective way or with any precision. Offensive to whom? Everyone finds something offensive.”

Caruso goes on to point out that in numerous cases, the Supreme Court of the United States has agreed that “offensive” is undefinable. Why then, he asks, does the BA think that it can be the champion of consumers by regulating via policy what some may deem offensive. Government regulation and approval, he argues, is sufficient.

“Consumers,” elaborates Caruso. “Vote with their hard-earned dollars billions of times every day. It’s called a free market. The BA believes consumers need a nanny.”

For its part, Pease simply says to Caruso, “Not all members agree with every policy” and that “we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

In addition, an article on beer news site Brewbound.com, Pease is quoted as saying he is “disappointed” in Flying Dog’s decision to withdraw from the organization. However, he defended the policy changes as “reasonable” and “responsible.”

“The BA and its members absolutely support the First Amendment,” he wrote in an email to BrewBound. “Invoking the First Amendment in this instance is misplaced and inaccurate. The Brewers Association has no intention nor ability to censor any market initiatives by any brewing industry member.”

“To us,” Caruso explains in his letter. “The BA’s anti-free expression stance is offensive, and we are exercising our freedom to choose by rejecting the BA.”

Consumers have the power to decide whether they side with the BA or with Flying Dog. Caruso is a proponent of this dynamic and prefers the power of the free market to what he sees as tyrannical suppression of expression and overly political correctness.

“Sometimes,” he concludes. “It is a matter of principle.

“This is one of those times.”

Read the entire letter to the BA from Jim Caruso here.

 

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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Bold City reopened: let them drink beer!

bcb7Almost as soon as I pressed the publish button on my last blog post about Bold City Brewing Company’s closure at the hands of the Jacksonville fire marshal, the Times-Union published an updated article stating that the brewery was granted permission to reopen.

The problem, according to the newspaper article, stemmed from the brewery’s Thursday night practice of hosting brewery yoga. Because of the number of people that activity could draw, the building is not properly equipped according to fire codes.

With the understanding that no more than 40 patrons are to be allowed in the facility at a time, the fire marshal has approved the reopening of the tap room.

Susan Miller, co-owner of the brewery with her son, Brian, said the doors would be open to beer lovers at 3:00 p.m. Friday as usual.

Read the entire Times-Union article at the link below:

http://jacksonville.com/news/food-and-dining/metro/2017-07-07/bold-city-gets-reprieve-brewery-tap-room-ok-d-reopen

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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Fire marshal shutters Bold City’s Rosselle Street tap room

bold_city_rosselleAfter a meteoric rise, the days of visiting a brewery tap room in Riverside may be over. Thursday, July 6 a Jacksonville city fire marshal made a visit to the Rosselle Street home of Bold City Brewing Company and promptly shut down the brewery’s long-open tap room.

The news broke through an email sent by co-owner Brian Miller. In the email Miller told of how the brewery had been inspected for the past eight years without a glitch. This year the marshal found an issue.

“The fire marshal,” Miller explained in his email. “Has determined that our original certificate of use does not allow us to operate our tap room that has been operating as is with zoning approval for nine years.”

Over the years since Bold City opened the first craft beer brewery in Jacksonville, the little tap room of the brewery has become a popular gathering place on Thursday through Saturday evenings. The tap room was so popular in fact that patrons often spilled over to a larger area in the brewery and out into the parking lot.

An article in the Friday, July 7 Jacksonville Times-Union quotes a city spokeswoman, Marsha Oliver, as saying there are a variety of violations. Violations other than the occupancy issue were not listed.

In his email, Miller promises to reopen the Rosselle tap room as soon as possible. He also asks supporters to visit Bold City’s new downtown tap room located at 109 East Bay Street.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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American Homebrewers Association names Best Beers in America 2017

best_beers_2017The American Homebrewers Association’s (AHA) member magazine, Zymurgy, has released it annual Zymurgy’s Best Beers in America list for 2017 and for the first time since 2008, Russian River’s Pliney the Elder is not at the top of the list. This year, the survey that polls readers of the magazine named Bell’s Two Hearted as the number one beer in the land. Pliney slides to second and Founders Breakfast Stout takes the third place position. Bell’s also took the top spot for best brewery.

“As homebrewers, Zymurgy readers have more refined palates than most for tasting beer,” said Gary Glass, director, American Homebrewers Association in a press release. “The Best Beers in America survey reveals which beers are leaving the biggest impression on the minds—and mouths—of these discerning beer drinkers.”

Bell’s Brewing Company began when Larry Bell brewed his first commercial batch of beer 32 years ago in Kalamazoo, Mich. Using a 15-gallon soup pot, Bell coaxed 135 barrels of beer from his makeshift system by 1986, just one year after beginning his new venture. Just three years later, the brewery was producing 500 barrels of beer per year. In the years since then Bell’s has grown to add additional breweries, a 200-barrel brewhouse, a cafe and an additional brewing company.

“This is an incredible honor for us. We got our start as homebrewers—that’s how my dad got going—so we really identify with the homebrewing community,” said Laura Bell, CEO, Bell’s Brewery, whose father, Larry, started the brewery in 1985 in Kalamazoo, Mich. “We take a lot of that spirit into what we do today.”

Each year, for the past 15 years, Zymurgy has asked its readers to provide a list of their top 20, commercially available beers. The magazine then uses that information to compile rankings for top beer, top brewery, top imports and brewery with best overall portfolio.

The survey results read like a dream shipping list of highly-coveted beers, heavy on IPAs, but with stouts and a few other styles sprinkled in. Notable among the non-IPA and non-stout entries are Boulevard’s Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale a fruity, complex saison with a peppery, dry finish and Odell’s 90 Shilling a lighter, smoother version of a traditional Scottish ale. California breweries dominate the top 10 breweries list taking seven spots with breweries like Sierra Nevada, Stone and Firestone Walker. Not surprisingly Belgian or Belgian-style beers controlled the top import list with Canadian brewery Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde. Top portfolio honors went to Stone Brewing Company with 31 highly-regarded brews.

To see all the winners go to the Best Beers in America page on the American Homebrewers Association website at: https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/news/2017-best-beers-america-results/.

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2017 in Beer, Beer News

 

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