Congress

The Friday Mash (“Sell High” Edition)

On this day in 2000, the Nasdaq Composite stock market index peaked at 5132.52, thanks to investors who bid up dot.com shares to astronomically high prices. Those who didn’t take profits got a nasty surprise: the Nasdaq fell by more than 50 percent by year’s end.

And now….The Mash!

Fittingly, we begin on Wall Street, where big breweries’ stocks haven’t been doing well. According to SeekingAlpha.com, the only company whose shares are trading near their 52-week high is Kirin Holdings Company.

Congress is considering a bill that would cut taxes for small brewers. The bill’s supporters contend that lower taxes would enable breweries to expand production, add jobs, and attract more visitors.

Session IPA is popular, but opinions vary as to its definition. Draft magazine has published a scale which shows how much these IPAs vary in alcoholic strength and, especially, perceived bitterness.

A few years ago, Emily Hengstebeck and her friends partied together at beer festivals. Now employed by a brewery, she found herself on the other side of the table. She describes what it’s like.

More than 7,000 CraftBeer.com readers filled out a survey asking them what was their state’s favorite beer bar, and why they liked it. Without further ado, here are the winners in each state.

It’s still “Miller Time” in Chicago. According to BevSpot, Miller has a more than 8-percent market share in the Windy City, more than twice the brand’s market share nationwide.

Finally, a Virginia brewery will release a beer honoring Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner, at a birthday celebration this month. The horse was nicknamed “Big Red”; the beer is an imperial red India pale ale.

Congress Gives Small Brewers a Break

That massive “tax extender” bill Congress passed before Christmas contains good news for the nation’s small brewers. Existing tax breaks for equipment will become permanent, and the breaks will apply to a broader class of brewers. In addition, brewers will face less regulatory red tape relating to bond requirements and tax reporting.

The legislation also bars the Food and Drug Administration from taking action against small brewers under the Food Safety and Modernization Act, which would require brewers to specifically label ingredients such as fruit and spices. Even though those ingredients aren’t traditional, and are usually not found in national-brand beers, they’re well known to the craft-brewing community.

On Capitol Hill, Dueling Beer Tax Bills

Large and small breweries are lining up behind competing bills that would provide tax relief to the industry.

The Small BREW Act would cut excise taxes for small brewers, which it defines as those making less than six million barrels a year. (The current definition tops out at two million, and thus excludes Boston Brewing Company and D.G. Yuengling & Son.) The Brewers Association, which represents smaller breweries, supports this bill.

On the other hand, the Fair BEER Act would halve the excise tax for the smallest brewers—those making less than 60,000 barrels a year—but give only modest relief to brewers in the 60,000-to-two-million-barel range. It would also apply to importing producers such as Corona and Heineken. The legislation is backed by the Beer Institute, whose membership includes the industry giants.

With millions of dollars in tax breaks at stake, both sides are lining up heavyweight lobbying firms to make their case to lawmakers.

A-B Bets Big on Excise Tax Relief

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.

The Friday Mash (Montreal Edition)

On this day in 1642, the French established a colony at Ville-Marie. It became modern-day Montreal, Canada’s second-largest city. Montreal has become the home of a thriving craft beer culture, and is the site of the 20th Mondial de la Biere, which gets underway May 29.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Krakow, which has long been famous for its history and culture. It has recently become Poland’s craft beer capital with more than 50 bars specializing in regional microbrews and beers from foreign independents.

There’s at least one thing congressional Democrats and and Republicans can agree on–namely, the BEER Act, a bill that would cut the federal tax for small breweries.

The Odell Brewing Company has brewed a special beer for a butterfly that lives on Colorado’s Front Range and loves hops. Proceeds from the beer will go to scientists studying the rare creature.

Now that Western countries have lifted economic sanctions on Myanmar (a/k/a Burma), brewing giants are planning to enter the country, which has 60 million people and a per capita consumption less than one-tenth of China’s.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery has yet another way to expose beer drinkers to the arts. It’s teamed up with a San Francisco a cappella group for an evening of classic drinking songs and Dogfish Head beers.

In Michigan, which dominated this year’s Beer City USA voting, the Economic Development Corporation is touting the state’s microbreweries in its “Pure Michigan” tourism commercials.

Finally, a Labrador retriever named Frank lives up to his breed’s reputation by fetching beer for his owner. Man’s best friend indeed.

The Friday Mash (Popcorn and Beer Edition)

On this day in 1907, Orville Redenbacher was born in Brazil, Indiana. Even as a youngster in 4-H, he was determined to make the perfect popcorn. His efforts paid off: popcorn made him both rich and famous; and nearly 15 years after his death, Orville Redenbacher remains the number-one selling brand.

If all this talk about popcorn made you thirsty, fear not. The Mash is coming your way!

We lead off with this year’s international Beer Challenge, where the Supreme Champion was Samuel Adams Utopias 2009.

Karl Ockert, the founding and long-time brewmaster at Portland, Oregon-based BridgePort Brewing Company, will leave the brewery on July 30. Ockert, who is credited with turing Portland into “an IPA town,” will become Technical Director at the Master Brewers Association of the Americas.

Duquesne Beer, a Pittsburgh-area favorite a generation or two ago, is coming back. The reincarnated version will be brewed with pricier hops–Saaz and Hallertau varieties from Europe, and hops from Washington State–as well as two-row malt.

Bobby Don Johnson, the Lafayette Craft Beer Examiner, offers his take on what makes a beer “drinkable”, and how “drinkable” differs from “sessionable.”

Legislation in Congress that would cut small brewers’ taxes continues to pick up support on Capitol Hill. According to the Brewers Association, 17 senators and 87 representatives have signed on as co-sponsors.

Finally, from the Department of Ancient History: a story in the April 10, 1988, New York Times attempted to distinguish micro-brewers, craft brewers, and “pub brewers.” Hat tip: Alan McLeod of A Good Beer Blog.

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