Tag Archives: beer legislation

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 3/4/17

The One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, is a cheat.  It is a quick way for me to come up with a topic to write about daily without having to do too much brainstorming.  So, when I can’t find an article I want to write about, it makes it kind of hard.

Anyway, here is an article about…wait for it…the NC distribution cap fight.  At least this one finally puts a number on all the money the N.C. Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association and individual distributors have given to NC legislators.  The total is almost $1.5 million.  That should explain all you need to know as to why progress has been slow.

I’ve been following this story since it started gaining steam 3 years ago, and I’m tired of talking about it.  However, I think the distributors are more afraid of the big beer companies pulling out of their contracts and distributing themselves.  That is a more realistic fear than the one of all these small brewers distributing their own wares.  It isn’t that much more realistic, but more realistic.

I just get tired of political fights whose conclusion is inevitable.  If the Supreme Court hadn’t stepped in, we would still be in a 40-year battle to finally get to marriage equality.  This is a much smaller and less important issue, but the conclusion is inevitable.  The politicians want to vote to raise the cap, but they get a lot of money from its opponents.  Eventually, the politician’s beliefs will win out and they will vote to raise the cap.  Wholesalers should spend less time worrying about how to stop the cap and more time trying to build good relationships with brewers.

Last thing, the distributors who treat brewers as if they are doing them a favor by distributing their beer are the ones who should worry.  I think the biggest change raising the cap will initiate is making distribution contracts fairer and forcing some distributors to treat brewers more as partners.

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 10/18/16

Today is a short one. I had trouble finding something that fascinated me enough to write about, so I went with an old favorite.

Ever since I started this blog and started reading beer related stores every morning to comment on them, I’ve been fascinated by stories like this one out of Johnson County, NC.  I’m not fascinated by these stories because they are about beer or alcohol.  They aren’t.  I fascinated by them because they are about revenue both business revenue and tax revenue.

These ballot measures are almost always spurred by one of two groups realizing they are leaving money on the table:  business owners and politicians.

This holds to my theory that all laws involving alcohol are primarily enacted to decide who gets to economically benefit from the sale of alcohol even when they are wrapped in a cloak of morality or purity.

The most famous beer law, the Reinheitsgebot, was created to stop competition between bakers and brewers over grains they both wanted to use for their respective business.  By restricting brewers to barley, bakers would use the cheaper grain keep bread affordable for the masses.  It was also a way to protect drinkers from beers using potentially dangerous adjuncts.

Here is a bit of rampant mostly uninformed speculation: Prohibition lasted as long as it did, even in the face of obvious failure, because politicians played teetotalers off bootleggers to rake in power from one side and money from the other, all the while drinking as much Canadian whiskey as they could get.

That is a thing that happens a lot, particularly in this country.  Politicians using the sincerity and ferocity of the religious as their foot soldiers to pass laws while taking money from the craven who are benefiting most from the laws they pass.

500 Words On One Article You Need To Read And Why, 9/30/16

Being a state legislator has to be hard.  The world you have been elected to create and vote on laws for, changes at a lightning speed.  You are expected to not only enact legislation that solves current problems but also anticipate problems down the road.  That is never more apparent than with any legislation involving new and emerging industries like craft beer.  Today’s article is actually three short articles from Alabama, Mississippi, and Northern Ireland that all deal with the same thing: laws that adversely affect craft beer because no one in the legislatures knew what craft beer was nor how big a business it would become.

All three of the articles deal with how beer is distributed.  It seems in all three cases the idea of a large number of small breweries wanting to control the distribution of their own product never occurred to anyone who makes laws.  Why would it?  If Ireland is anything like the US, for a long stretch of history beer was made by large companies pumping out as much of the least offensive beer possible.  Then the beer world changed without most people noticing it and a new business category was established, but the laws are just starting to acknowledge craft beer’s existence.

On one hand, you have legislators who are trying to navigate these issues by learning about the new industry and are generally trying to do a good job to keep the playing field fair for the new and growing industry.  On the other hand, you have legislators who, because how the system works, simply carry out the wishes of the lobbies who want to restrict the changes to the beer industry that are inevitably happening.

Large and wealthy beer companies and distributors fight every day to keep the power they have within the industry from being dispersed among craft brewers.  However, I think they know this is simply a delaying tactic used until they can figure out how to keep making the money they always have in this landscape they know is changing.

The emergence of craft brewing has disrupted a whole industry.  This wasn’t entirely intentional.  All the first craft brewers wanted to do was make good beer.  They knew that some people out there wanted more than just watered down mass produced pilsners.  The problem these brewers have run into is that the people that produce and distribute those watery pilsners gathered their money and power by making sure their product was in every watering hole, grocery store and gas station they could find and they are not giving up that money and power easily.

I don’t want to make this seem like some grand eloquent fight for freedom.  Craft brewers just want to make and sell their beer to as many people as possible and want the playing field to be level so they can fail or succeed on their own merits.  That is true whether it is North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, or Northern Ireland.

One Beer Article You Should Read And Why, 8/8/16

We are going to try something different with the Five Articles.  At least for a little while.  Instead of 5 takes on 5 different articles, I want to try one take on one article in 500 words.

One of the things you notice when you pay attention to the news surrounding craft beer is how there is a learning curve that has to happen in many parts of the country about craft beer and its culture.  That is particularly true in places where alcohol has been historically demonized like the South and parts of the Mid-West.

I know in many places in the South, any consumption of alcohol is considered sinful and an aberration of “good” behavior.  There is fear that allowing easy access to alcohol will lead to things like “Beer Street” or “Gin Lane.”  William Hogarth’s painting is a depiction of what the wealthy and he upstanding thought happens when the poor and unwashed were given access to “demon alcohol.”

That idea of the degradation caused by unfettered access to alcohol led to the Prohibition movement in the United States which still persists.  When you combine that fear with the power many alcohol distributors and their lobby have in most state legislatures you can get situations like the one in Alabama.

Recently, Alabama passed a law to allow breweries to sell growlers.  As in many states where similar laws were recently passed, the distribution and big beer lobbies added in provisions to protect themselves.  In this case, one of those provisions is to limit individual purchases of growlers from breweries to 288 ounces at any one time.

First problem, this limit is only for brewery growlers.  You can buy more than one case of mass produced beer at your nearby gas station with no problem.  Second problem, as often happens when legislatures pass laws to either protect a certain lobby or to solve problems that don’t actually exist without putting much thought behind their actions (NC HB2 anyone), someone has to enforce those laws.  So, the Alabama alcohol beverage commission had to figure out how to regulate this 288-ounce limit and decided the best way to do it is to have breweries take down the name, address, and telephone numbers of anyone who buys growlers and give that information to the Alabama ABC. That went over like a fart in church.

So what will probably happen next is the Alabama legislature will have to go back and fix this, by taking out the limit on individual purchases and everyone will go on their merry way.  This could have been avoided if legislatures were populated by more people with enough common sense, intelligence, and respect for the legislative process to actually read and understand the stuff they are asked to vote on during a session.

The people we elect to represent us in state legislatures are supposed to be the smartest most community dedicated people in the room.  That is why we choose them to be our representatives.  Our spokespersons.  Unfortunately, what we seem to keep electing are the ones who can raise the most money.  Not the smartest and not the ones who care the most about the least of us.  And they are certainly not people dedicated enough to public service to read the things they are being asked to vote upon, much less care how these actual laws will affect the people and small businesses they are there to represent.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/17/16

A short vacation starts for me today.  I’m heading to Richmond for a couple of days of beer drinking.  The Five Articles should not be affected, but it just depends on how drunk I get.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/16/16

Today is Bloomsday.  It is June 16, the day Leopold Bloom walked through Dublin in James Joyce novel Ulysses.  Once again, I will begin my quest to start and finish the book. I’ve made it pretty much half way through on my last attempt.  Anyway, on to the Five Articles.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/15/16

There was a bounty of good articles today.  Here are the five that I like best.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/12/16

USA! USA! I’ve seen every match of the US Men’s National Team since the Trinidad and Tobago match that sent the US to the 1990 World Cup.  John Brooks performance last night was maybe the best defensive performance (non-goalkeeper category) that I’ve seen.  Onto Sunday’s Five Articles.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/10/16

It’s Friday and your week is almost over.  Have a beer.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/9/16

Thursday is here and the week is almost done.  This is my Wednesday because my days off are shifted a day off of everyone else’s.