liquor regulation

The Friday Mash (PG-13 Edition)

On this day in 1984, the Motion Picture Association of America added “PG-13” to its film rating system. The new rating was created after parents and advocacy groups complained about the amount of violence in some PG-rated films.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in South Carolina, where a 20-year-old law forbids breweries to donate beer to non-profit organizations. This law—which state liquor agents are aggressively enforcing—effectively prevents small breweries from taking part in festivals.

In Las Vegas, Pub 365 plans to offer a rotating selection of 365 craft beers, including beer cocktails and a rare beer menu called the Unicorn List. Seasonals will make up one-fifth of the selection.

Market Watch’s Jason Notte writes that craft breweries are resorting to a tactic they once despised: establishing sub-brands for beers that may not fit the character of the brewery’s core business.

Starting next year, beer bikes will be banned from Amsterdam’s city center. Locals complained that the bikes, packed with bachelor partiers, have turned downtown into a drunken theme park.

The Washington Post’s Fritz Hahn has noticed a trend: the 16-ounce shaker pint is giving way to smaller glassware. It’s makes craft beer appear cheape, and it’s a more responsible way to serve high-gravity styles.

Thieves made off with two refrigerated trailers packed with 78,500 bottles of SweetWater Brewing Company’s beer. Police recovered some of the beer in a nearby warehouse—which, ironically, was a shooting location for the 1977 bootleg beer classic, Smokey and the Bandit.

Finally, Untappd, Inc., now offers “Untapped For Business”, which allows retailers to publish beer lists, share their menus with consumers, and notify customers that rare or sought-after beers are going to appear on store shelves.

The Friday Mash (Boomer Sooner Edition)

One hundred and twenty-five years ago today, at high noon, thousands of people took part in the Oklahoma Land Rush. Within hours, Oklahoma City and Guthrie had instant populations of 10,000.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Tumwater, Washington, once the home of Olympia Brewing Company. Today, it’s the home of a cluster of legal marijuana growers and processors—including one of the state’s largest.

Peru’s Cerveza San Juan beer brand has replaced the roaring jaguar with barnyard animals on its cans. The reason? The brewery is calling attention to the big cat’s endangered status.

Officials have reinstated beer at the University of Missouri’s “Tiger Prowl”, where graduating seniors eat barbecue, get free merchandise, and get ready to say goodbye to their classmates.

Anheuser-Busch InBev has acquired its eighth craft brewery, Devil’s Backbone of Roseland, Virginia. Established in 2008, Devil’s Backbone has won multiple Great American Beer Festival medals.

The Vietnamese love beer, and craft brewers have begun to enter the market. One new craft is the Pasteur Street Brewing Company, whose founders include Vick’s Florida native John Reid.

Forbes magazine’s Tara Nurin explores “pay-to-play” in beer distribution. Even after a high-profile crackdown in Massachusetts, she says it’s “a common yet whispered business practice”.

Finally, Don Russell aka Joe Sixpack takes us back to the bad old days of Prohibition’s “needle beer”: speakeasy owners injected alcohol into near beer—which was still legal in the 1920s. One customer, who sampled the stuff, compared it to 44-D cough syrup.

Beer…By the Numbers

  • Craft beer production in 2015: 24.5 million barrels.
  • Increase over 2014: 13 percent.
  • Craft beer’s share of the market, as measured by production: 12 percent.
  • Its market share, as measured by dollar value: 21 percent ($22.3 billion).
  • Percentage of under-30 adults who said beer was their favorite beverage in 1992-93: 70.
  • Percentage of under-30 adults who said beer was their favorite beverage 20 years later: 40.
  • “Pay-for-play” fine imposed on distributor Craft Brewers Guild by Massachusetts liquor regulators: $2.6 million.
  • Craft Brewers Guild’s payoffs to bars and other businesses: At least $120,000.
  • Dollar value of Heineken’s U.S. sales during the 52 weeks ending January 24, 2016: $730.7 million.
  • Increase over the previous year: 1.9 percent.
  • Heineken’s share of the imported beer market: 13.1 percent (down 1.2 percent from the year before).
  • Years since Guinness opened its brewery at St James’s Gate in Dublin: 257.
  • Years remaining on Guinness’s lease for the St James’s Gate brewery: 8,743.
  • Flavored beers’ share of new beer releases in 2010: 15 percent.
  • Flavored beers’ share in 2015: 27 percent.
  • Distribution: Beer’s Next Battlefront?

    Last week, Massachusetts’ liquor regulators slapped the state’s largest beer distributor with a 90-day license suspension. The distributor’s offense: paying some $120,000 in bribes to a dozen bars in return for their devoting tap handles to the brands the distributor carried.

    Beer journalist Jeff Alworth contends that the practice of paying bars to carry its brands is hardly limited to the distributor that got caught. What made that case stand out was the distributor blatantly bought tap handles. More subtle corruption is harder to detect because state liquor regulators don’t have the resources to monitor every transaction between a distributor and a bar.

    According to Alworth, the recent merger of Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller may lead to even more cheating with respect to beer distribution: “Large companies like [Anheuser-Busch InBev] are already making a big play to control distribution. Smaller companies are going to become desperate to get their beer to market. As more and more breweries come online and more and more consolidation happens at the top, the opportunities to cheat will grow.” While this story won’t dominate the media, Alworth predicts that “it will be one of the most important dynamics driving what happens in beer in the coming years.”

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