It doesn’t matter how long I may stay away from the Five Articles, they always seem to come back to the same thing: the changing nature of alcohol laws in this country. I tried to link to a few articles that talked about this specifically in Mississippi where the slight changes to the laws have led to a jump in the number and profit of Mississippi breweries. Now, the brewers are trying to drag the laws from the 20th century into the 21st, but you can’t read that because the newspaper with those stories restricts access to those who have paid for a subscription. Onto the articles you can read.
I love Belgian-style beers and Saisons is possibly my favorite style. One of the cool things about Belgian-style beers is how unlike IPAs or stouts or pilsners the style descriptions are more general guides and not concrete recipes. That makes each Saison and other Belgian style beers different from the next. Here is a guide to many of the Saisons brewed in North Carolina.
Friday is here. I have a weird relationship with Fridays. I don’t have Saturday’s off so Friday is just another day for me. For you, however, it is probably the end of the week. Go out and enjoy pretending to work this afternoon as you wait for the clock to finally get to 5:00. On to the links.
Of course, the Georgia wholesalers and distributors orchestrated this whole mess. Their lobbyists helped write the law and then turned around and helped the Department of Revenue see the interpretation of the law that hurt craft brewers. I don’t believe in most conspiracy theories because they assume a core competency that I have not experienced from most others I’ve encountered in life. In this case, the conspiracy is so transparent and straight lined that to not assume it is intellectually dishonest.
Hi-Wire Brewing is moving headlong into sours from a standing start. This is an interesting move. Honestly, I don’t know if I understand it. This is something that breweries around the country are doing. They are moving away from specialty ales and into sours and barrel aging. While that is great in one sense, this is a high risk, high reward proposition. If you don’t do it right, you’ve wasted a great deal of time and product.
The week moves on and Thursday is here. This has always been a weird day to me. The week is almost over, but not quite. You still have to work the next day, but you know the atmosphere is a little more relaxed. Anyway, with legislative sessions around the country getting started this month, there is a lot of movement in the beer law front. To continue yesterday’s theme, here are a few articles on beer and alcohol laws around the country.
Here is an article about “strange” alcohol laws. I guess in the time I’ve been doing this blog and reading about beer and alcohol laws around the country, these don’t seem so strange to me. The only thing I really find strange are the laws that limit production or direct sales to customers. The limit on where you can buy beers over a certain ABV are not strange as much as they seem arbitrary.
Here is a deep dive into the Georgia brewery law saga. In a nutshell, the legislature lets wholesalers craft a brewery law that took away the breweries ability to sell directly to consumers. The law seemed to give brewers some new abilities to sell tours. Then the Georgia Department of Revenue read the law and interpreted it in a way that took away the very rights it was supposed to grant brewers. The new compromise law to replace the one past last year simply brings brewers back to where they were in 2015 before the Department of Revenue actually read what the law said.
Mississippi continues to move its alcohol laws towards the 21st century. One of the interesting things about alcohol laws is that many times throughout history these laws have changed and evolved in order to raise tax revenue. I honestly believe that is the true reason states are crafting laws that open up the craft brew industry in their states. There is money to be made and every legislator wants a piece of it.
Yesterday, I had every intention of doing the Five Articles, however, the events of the night before prevented me from having the mental acuity or consciousness to put together a string of sentences with any coherence whatsoever. So, to get back into the groove today, I’m going to offer a roundup of beer law stories.
First, let’s look at the festival schedule for Western NC. Since I’m normally working on the weekend, I don’t usually get to make it to many festivals. That may change during the summer as I’ll try to get to a couple of local festivals. Then, next winter, I will try to get to a couple of other festivals. I will be the GABF this year.
From doing the Five Articles pretty much every day, and working on my own blog, it is easy to recognize the columns or blog posts written because your editor is telling you, you have to put out something for today’s edition and you write something even though there is nothing really to write about. Here is one such column.
I had hoped this article would be better. Something that offered context and new insights on what is happening and what may happen in the future of beer. Instead, it was a short recap of what has already happened in the beer business.
It is a snowy Friday. Let me take that back and explain to people not from North Carolina what is going on here. There is maybe 3 inches of snow on the ground. That isn’t the problem. The problem is the sleet and freezing rain that follows and then the fact that the melting snow will freeze again tonight. Also, the reason we don’t plow the roads is we don’t have enough snow plows because this happens maybe twice a year in this part of the state. Anyway, here is some beer news.
Now if Gov. Cuomo can get these changes passed in New York, these would probably be the first significant and wholesale changes in any state’s alcohol laws since maybe the 1970s and probably since states passed laws from 1933 through the 1950s making alcohol legal after the end of Prohibition.
This is a good explanation of why our beer choices are so random and weird right now. Most of the beers noted here come out in late fall and early winter and center around Christmas flavors. The next round that comes out are the weird porters and barrel aged stouts that drop from the start of January through Valentine’s day. Personally, I love big dark beers with flavors of coffee, chocolate, and aged in bourbon barrels and will drink them year around. So this is my time to stock up.
The first and pretty much the only time I’ve ever bet on a game was a Super Bowl that occurred when I was in elementary school. I bet a guy $1 that my team would win. I don’t think I really understood what that meant because when my team lost and I was informed I owed him a $1 I remember thinking that was a stupid way to lose money. Ever since I’ve felt betting on anything was akin to taking my money and lighting it on fire. Subsequently, I don’t bet anything on anything. I’m not 100 percent sure the sun will rise tomorrow so why would I bet anything on a football game. At least, this is a fun wager that will hopefully result in really good beer.
Sunny and frigid. It looks like it is a wonderful spring day from my window. Then I look at my phone and I see it is 28 degrees. I’m better today. Funerals aren’t for the dead, they are for the living. They allow the living to move on and find some form of closure in one of the few parts of life that actually has closure.
This seems like a silly campaign story. Here is the issue (besides a politician reversing course on a bill he helped create): Brewers spend a lot of money and time trying to come up with beer names and bottle labels. First, they have to find a name that isn’t already in use. Then they have to come up with a label that stands out from the crowd, can get government approval, and not offend too many people.
I have read a few articles about how the German Purity Law is obsolete. I agree that brewers should be allowed to use whatever ingredients they want in a beer. However, sometimes I wish there was a little less “innovation” in ingredients and a little more attention to brewing quality beer. Sometimes it is good to remember and to celebrate where things come from and why they exist. Honestly, I am tired of drinking beers that taste like pastry or flavored with habanero peppers. I just want a beer made with water, hops, malt, and yeast.
Another brewery is coming to Charlotte. Blue Blaze will be opening up sometime in 2016. They are targeting late spring or early summer. No one who knows anything about opening a new brewery or restaurant in Charlotte believes that timeline.
You know you’ve worked really hard when people at the grocery store mistake your countenance for being hung over when it is merely something akin to exhaustion. Anyway, the Five Articles are terribly late today because of almost 24 hours of work in the last 48. So, here are four beer articles and one from one of my favorite non-beer/sports websites.
Jason Notte looking into his crystal ball on what beer styles will take off in the next year. There are two terms to describe good players in soccer: form and class. The best way to describe the difference is this: Form is temporary and class is forever. I often think of that when I read about hard root beer, session IPAs, and flavor infused beers. I think it bothers me because too many brewers want to jump to making some kind of faddish beer before then master the ability to make a drinkable pale ale. Here is the other thing, the drinking public eventually figures out if you are good at brewing or not.
I think I understand why Monarch is fighting this fight. It makes more financial and logistical sense to be able to operate as one distributor with all three parts of the alcohol segment. However, if they really just wanted to distribute liquor, they could have created a wholly separate company.
Every day I get an email or read a tweet from Brain Pickings that teaches me something. The number of books I’ve found from reading this site over the last year is ridiculous. My Kindle overflows with books featured in these blog posts. That is why this post is so near to my heart. I meet so many adults who say they don’t read books. Even if you are just reading books in the field in which you work, you should read books. Even if it is “just” genre fiction (romance, sci-fi, mystery, crime) you should read books.
The Five Articles are a little late this morning, but here they are. This is the first day this year, where I had more articles than I had slots. That is a good feeling. The world is starting to right itself after the holiday season. Onto the list.
Laws and legislation. Growing pains and adolescence. One of the things that fascinate me about Major League Soccer is that we sports fans, specifically soccer fans, get to watch a top flight league grow and develop in real time. It is a messy and confounding thing to watch. There are 10 steps forward, two backwards, and three sideways at every phase of growth. Craft beer is kind of in the same position. Actually, a better analogy might be a band. Bands form and they play any show they can get and they sell music directly to potential fans and develop a loyal and strong following if they are good. Then, at some point, they go from being the little band that could to headlining their first tour. Then, they stop being just a band and become a business and they have business worries. That is where craft beer is now.
Should the state of North Carolina be in the alcohol business? First, the state is tasked by the US Constitution to regulate alcohol in its borders, so the state will be involved in some capacity always. Second, if you want to change thegovernment’s level of involvement, good luck. That is a decades-long fight that no one has the stomach for right now. Politicians do things for two reasons. The first, to get their name associated with a bill that will create jobs and/or increase tax revenue. The second, to keep from being embarrassed. Unless and until, OMB, NoDa, and Red Oak can prove that allowing them to self-distribute more than 25000 barrels a year the legislation will languish in committee. In this case, embarrassment isn’t working because the distributors and big beer give enough money to make it not work.
The point in your life when you realize you are at least partially a grown us is when you are faced with a decision between doing what you need to do to be responsible and doing what you want to do. When you start choosing the need to do direction you’re a grown up. Breweries suing smaller breweries over potential intellectual property issues is a need to do situation. This is my second prediction of what will happen this year in craft beer, craft beer will grow up and increasingly think of itself as a business.
This is one case where embarrassment is working. The Georgia legislature passed a law that was written in part by big distributors. It has a Rube Goldberg feel to it that got exposed by the Department of Revenue. Now they are trying to fix it.
Alabama steps into the 21st century as far as its beer laws are concerned. The craft beer people in Alabama did exactly what I said you have to do. They appealed to the legislators with more revenue and jobs. Politicians work to get reelected. Doing things that make them look good and/or raise tax revenues without raising taxes and provide jobs is how they get reelected. Either that or carrying the water for a lobbyist that gives them lots of money to go their reelection.