Most companies cut back their lobbying budgets but according to Aimee Duffy of The Motley Fool, Anheuser-Busch InBev is spending heavily in favor of two tax measures currently before Congress.
Readers of this blog are probably aware of the Brewers Excise and Economic Relief (BEER) Act of 2013, which would cut the federal beer tax in half, and give small brewers an even more generous tax break; and the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce (Small BREW) Act of 2013, which would reduce the beer tax by 50 percent on the first 60,000 barrels and by 11 percent on each barrel beyond that.
According to the website govtrack.us, the BEER Act has zero chance of getting through Congress, and the Small BREW Act has only a 2-percent chance. In spite of those odds, A-B spent $4.3 million on lobbying, most of it to make sure these bills pass.
Duffy finds method in A-B’s madness. If the BEER Act passes, the company’s tax bill would drop by around $500 million a year–more than a 10,000 percent return on a $4.3 million lobbying investment.
On this day in 1497, in Florence, Italy, Savonarola presided over history’s most famous “bonfire of the vanities.” Anything he considered a temptation to sin went up in flames. That’s enough to drive anyone to drink.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in Grand Rapids, home of HopCat, America’s top-rated beer bar. Owner Mark Sellers plans to open 12 to 15 more HopCats throughout the Midwest over the next five years.
Gotcha! Firas Habli, a beer store owner in Ohio, was shamed on social media after he was seen trying to buy a grocery store’s entire allotment of Bell’s Hopslam.
In Maine, liquor inspectors are telling bars that it’s agains the law to post the alcoholic content of beer. The law was passed in 1937, long before the arrival of high-gravity craft beer.
In Washington State, Un-Cruise Adventures is offering a beer-themed whale-watching cruise. The itinerary includes two brewery tours, and beer experts will be pairing craft beers with dinner.
Researchers in Spain have created an electronic “tongue” that can recognize beer styles and differences in alcohol content. It’s said to be accurate more than four out of five times.
Instead of shelling out millions for a Super Bowl ad, Newcastle mocked the big game’s hype in a stealth campaign that featured Anna Kendrick in a “Behind the Scenes” YouTube video.
Finally, the early favorite for Beer Trend of 2014 appears to be beer-focused cocktails. To get you started, the Food Network staff has put together a 13-drink slideshow, complete with recipes.
Minnesota’s Lakemaid Brewery had an ingenious idea: use drones to deliver beer to ice fishermen camped out on the area’s frozen lakes. Unfortunately, beer-carrying drones violate a host of Federal Aviation Administration rules, so agency officials ordered Lakemaid to halt deliveries. The FAA expects to draw up rules for commercial drones sometimes next year, but it’s unclear whether they’ll be in effect before the end of ice-fishing season.
On this day in 1846, Juneautown and Kilbourntown, Wisconsin, combined to form the city of Milwaukee. One of Milwaukee’s nicknames is “Cream City,” given in the late 19th century when millions of cream-colored bricks were made there.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in Northlake, Illinois, where Bill Diamond, a train conductor at a distribution plant, is protecting beer from the polar vortex, which has driven temperatures well below beer’s freezing point.
Ever heard of the Andy-Oza Line? Created by Andy Sparhawk of CraftBeer.com, it’s the average ABV of the beer on tap at your local beer bar, divided by 5.9%, the average ABV of American craft beer.
These cases are getting more common. Illinois’ Rockford Brewing Company filed a trademark suit against Michigan’s Rockford Brewing Company. Both claim to they were the first to use the name.
Beer, then whiskey. MillerCoors is rolling out Miller Fortune, a golden lager that gives off a taste of bourbon. It’s aimed at 21- to 27-year-old men, who have gravitated to spirits in recent years.
Heretic Brewing Company responded to California’s new growler law by providing customers with the most detailed instructions we’ve ever seen for keeping growlers clean.
What did James Grant, a New Zealand doctor, do when a shark attacked him? He drove off the shark with a knife, stitched up his wounds, and went to the pub for a beer with his friends.
Finally, umami is a savory flavor at the heart of Japanese food. Now there’s a beer to pair with it. It’s called Wazen, which will be released this spring by Suntory, the Japanese beverage company.
On this day in 1848, James W. Marshall found gold at Sutter’s Mill near Sacramento. That discovery attracted hundreds of thousands of “Forty-Niners.” By necessity, these early settlers developed a style of beer known as “California Common,” better known as steam beer.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Boulder, Colorado, where a brewery got called for illegal procedure after the NFL learned that it had released a “Brett on the Broncos” ale honoring the AFC champions.
The Washington Post has put together a chart that links beverage choice and political views. The most Democratic beer is Milwaukee’s Best, the most Republican beer is Coors Original.
The maker of Jelly Bellys has added a new Draft Beer flavor to its lineup. Inspired by a Hefeweizen ale, it has a wheaty taste. And no, it doesn’t contain any alcohol.
Ohio lawmakers are considering whether to raise the maximum allowable ABV in beer from 12 percent to 21 percent, which is the state’s maximum ABV for wine.
From Paste magazine comes the Cheap American Beers Bracket. The magazine’s staff picked Miller High Life number one, but readers made Pabst Blue Ribbon their champion.
“Beer,” by Luke Bryan, currently tops the country music chart. The last number-one country song with “beer” in its title Billy Currington’s “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer,” in 2010.
Finally, organizers of tomorrow’s Beer Dabbler Carnival in St. Paul, Minnesota, are attempting to set a new world record for world’s largest snowball fight. Over 7,000 are expected to take part.
On this day in 1929, Popeye the Sailor Man, a cartoon character created by Elzie Segar, debuted in the Thimble Theatre comic strip. Since then, Popeye has appeared in comic books, video games, and a film starring Robin Williams in the title role.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in St. Louis’s Bellefontaine Cemetery, where two adjacent mausoleums on Millionaires’ Row remind us of a rivalry between brewing families, the Lemps and the Wainwrights.
The Spencer Brewery in Massachusetts, has become only the tenth brewery to to be recognized as Trappist. Its ales are brewed by the monks–Trappist, of course–of St. Joseph’s Abbey.
Germany’s Federal Cartel Office levied $150 million in fines on five breweries for conspiring to fix prices. The whistle-blower was none other than Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Has extreme beer gone too far? The Icelandic brewery Steojar was blasted by conservationists for brewing a beer with whale meat. A treaty signed by most nations bans commercial whaling.
Sam Samaneiego, the “Beer Nazi,” has passed away. His Stuffed Sandwich restaurant in San Gabriel, California, has been introducing customers to better beer since it opened in 1976.
Thailand’s Singha beer found itself embroiled in political controversy after brewery heiress Chitpas Bhirombhakdi accused rural Thais of lacking a “true understanding” of democracy.
Finally, festival organizers are having second thoughts about glassware. Some higher-end festivals give attendees fancy keepsake glasses instead of plastic cups or mini-shaker pints.
Why is craft beer served in shaker pints or other glassware and not a pitcher? BrewProf has the answer. Actually, he has more than one answer.
To begin with, a pitcher doesn’t make sense from a quality-control perspective. Beer’s two worst enemies, light and oxygen, thrive in pitchers. Economics also play a role. Many bars sell a pitcher of national-brand beer for well under $10, but with craft beer priced at $4-5 a pint these days, a pitcher might carry a price tag of $20–and give customers a case of sticker shock. Liquor laws are another factor. Even if there aren’t restrictions on pitcher sales, some establishments are reluctant to serve four-pint portions of high-gravity ale. Then there’s an element of beer snobbery: some craft beer drinkers associate pitchers with macrobrews and shy away from them.
Despite all those drawbacks, BrewProf gives pitchers a qualified thumbs-up. If it’s not too warm out and you’re drinking with friends, pitchers save drinkers trips to the bar and make life a little less hectic for bar staff.
Rule One of trademark law is that one can never be too vigilant in defending one’s mark. With that in mind, Starbucks sent a cease-and-desist letter to a Exit 6 Pub and Brewery, a Missouri brewpub. It told Exit 6 to stop selling a beer called “Frappicino,” which differs from Starbucks’ trademarked “Frappuccino” drink by just one letter.
Exit 6’s owner, Jeff Briton, was amazed that Starbucks’ attorneys found it worth their while to pursue a tiny establishment that sold just three of those vanilla creme and chocolate coffee ale concoctions. He decided to have a little fun at their expense. In a letter directed to “Mr. Bucks,” Briton pled guilty to being a “poor speler” and made amends by enclosing a check for $6, representing his profit on the three offending drinks–which he referred to as “The F Word” to avoid further legal trouble.
On this day in 1790, Dartmouth College was founded by Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, with a royal charter from King George III, on land donated by royal governor John Wentworth. There’s no truth to the rumor that the first kegger on campus took place that evening.
And now….The Mash!
We begin on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Last Sunday, frigid temperatures at the Atlanta Falcons-Green Bay Packers game caused beer lines to freeze up and fans to complain.
Brewpubs are opening in Beijing. The first ones were opened by expatriates, but homebrewers and brewing school alumni have stepped in, and are making beer that appeals to local tastes.
According to scientists at the University of Sapporo, beer contains humulone, which is effective in fighting a virus that causes respiratory diseases such as pneumonia. The virus is especially nasty in the winter.
For decades, Guatemala’s dominant beer has been Gallo, from the family-owned Cerveceria Centro Americana. However, a beer war has broken out now that Anheuser-Busch InBev has entered the market.
The NBA’s Utah Jazz have are off to a horrible start this season, but their bear-suited mascot turned in a highlight-film performance against a Houston Rockets fan who poured beer on him.
Germany has asked UNESCO to put the country’s Reinheitsgebot on the intangible cultural heritage list. The German beer purity law celebrates its 500th anniversary in 2016.
Finally, Rajan Zed wants Asheville Brewing Company to find a new name for its flagship beer. Zed contends that “Shiva India Pale Ale” disrespects his Hindu faith. The brewery, which has spent 15 years building the brand, won’t rename it.
It’s been 80 years since the 21st Amendment ended Prohibition and left most liquor regulation up to the states. That’s the good news. The bad news is that many states still have strange laws that govern alcoholic beverages. Author Aaron Goldfarb, writing in Esquire magazine, offers his top ten remnants of Prohibition. You’re undoubtedly familiar with some of them, such Sunday blue laws; dry counties; and ABV caps, which still exist in a few states.
Others are downright weird, such as Pennsylvania’s “case law” (you must buy at least 24 beers at a time), Indiana’s ban on cold beer sales, and bans on Election Day sales in a few states whose politics might drive one to drink. And with Christmas coming up, you should know that in Washington, D.C., it’s illegal to use Santa Claus to promote alcohol.