three-tier system

What if Prohibition Never Happened?

The latest Examiner.com column by Charlie Papazian poses an intriguing question: what if the 18th Amendment, which imposed national Prohibition, never became law?

If Prohibition never happened, we wouldn’t have had bathtub gin or speakeasies, the U.S. Treasury would have continued to take in millions in excise taxes, and gangsters like Al Capone would have been forced to find some other industry. And millions of Americans wouldn’t have had to break the law to enjoy an adult beverage.

But Papazian also sees a downside to Prohibition never happening. Lawmakers might not have outlawed “tied houses.” That, plus inevitable consolidation of the industry, could have created a barrier to entry so high that small breweries would struggle to survive. Without distributors, small brewers would have little chance of getting their product on the shelves and into bars. And if big brewers pushed huge quantities of cheap beer, a backlash leading to high taxes and tough restrictions might have occurred.

The ultimate question Papazian asks is, “If there was no Prohibition would we have today’s 2,400 small breweries?”

The Friday Mash (Robbie Burns Edition)

Today is the birthday of Scottish poet Robert Burns. It is the traditional day to honor him with a Burns supper, which typically includes haggis, Scotch whisky, and the recitation of Burns’ poetry, and closes with a chorus of Auld Lang Syne.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Rosemont, Illinois, where America’s fourth Hofbrauhaus had a soft opening in the city’s new entertainment district. The other HB locations are Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, and Newport, Kentucky.

The Canadian humor magazine Bite has created a zodiac-like infographic, “What Your Beer Style Says About You.” (Hat tip: Jay Brooks.)

Two cheers for the three-tier system. According to the New America Foundation’s Barry Lynn, distributors are protecting craft beer from the dominance of the nation’s brewing duopoly–at least for now.

Why is beer more likely to go skunky in clear bottles? It’s because light reacts with hop alpha acids to produce a compound similar to one found in a skunk’s defense spray.

On Tuesday Harpoon Brewing, the nation’s eighth-largest craft brewer, will open a $3.5 million beer hall in Boston. It’s located just blocks from Boston Beer Company’s Jamaica Plain facility.

If you haven’t been able to get limited-release beers, Today.com’s Jim Galligan offers tips from the pros. For starters, you should cultivate a relationship with a good beer store in your area.

Finally, Matt Austin, a grad student at Cardiff University, found some interesting parallels between the way Vikings drank in mead halls and the way today’s British college athletes drink.

Capital Capsules

In many states, the legislature is in session. Some of their work will affect craft beer lovers.

The “Surly bill” is now law in Minnesota. No, it doesn’t mandate nice behavior. It allows craft breweries to sell beer by the pint on premises. And Brooklyn Center’s Surly Brewing Company is just one brewery that plans to take advantage of it.

Free the Hops, Alabama’s craft beer advocacy group, is on the verge of a partial success this year. The Brewery Modernization Act will make it easier to open a brewpub in the state and allow microbreweries to open tasting rooms. The governor said that he will sign it.

Ohio lawmakers are considering whether to raise the ABV cap on beer to 18 percent from its current 12 percent.

Connecticut lawmakers have given final approval to the creation of a Connecticut Beer Trail.

A bill introduced in the Michigan House would allow homebrew tastings at licensed breweries and brewpubs for activities such as club meetings and competitions.

And a new Illinois law that allows small brewers to self-distribute has gone into effect. However, the law doesn’t provide much relief to brewpubs, which must establish a production brewery in order to self-distribute their product.

Unfortunately, not all is rosy on the legislative front. In Wisconsin, small brewers are up in arms over proposed legislation that would prevent breweries from owning distributorships. Backers of the legislation include MillerCoors, the Wisconsin Beer Distribution Association, the Tavern League of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Grocers Association.

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