May 17th, 2011

The First Sip: Happy American Craft Beer Week

Greetings my fellow beer loving brethren and a very happy American Craft Beer Week to you for the second year in a row! May your pint never run dry of hand crafted American microbrew this week! In honor of the week, here are a few updates from the local beer scene:

Pending Beer Legislation

My last beer update article let you know about a few bills making their way through the Texas legislature: HB 660, which would allow Texas brewpubs to sell their beers at stores through distributors, and HB 602, which would allow microbreweries to give away up to two six packs of beer after a paid, on premise tour. Both of these bills would substantially help the craft brewers in this state… unfortunately, it’s not looking good.

HB 660 is all but dead. Thanks to the wonderful folks over at the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, the bill is stuck in committee and has about a 0% chance of getting out and making its way through the legislative system before this session is shut down. Apparently the WBDT seems to have a problem granting Texas brewpubs a “manufacturer” status as they are currently classified as “retailer.” Allowing them to be labeled as both throws a wrench into the precious three-tier-system that must be preserved at all costs. How does this affect you? It’s things like this that are a deterrents for anyone who may be thinking of bringing a brewpub to Texas. Why bother opening here when other states don’t have these laws and the potential for success and profit is that much greater? Oh well… there is always next legislative session. I’ll keep you posted…

HB 602 isn’t dead, but is facing some hurdles. In order to appease the WBDT, the bill was amended to allow this privilege to breweries producing less than 75K barrels. Now, Anheuser Busch has come out in opposition to the bill citing that it is discriminatory toward larger breweries such as themselves and even local Spoetzl Brewing (Shiner). The proponents of the bill are arguing that the purpose is to allow small businesses to grow to a point where they no longer need the help, but, as you can imagine, AB wants nothing to do with allowing small breweries to grow and steal away their customer base. In any case, the bill is still trying to be pushed through, spearheaded by Houston’s own Brock Wagner of Saint Arnold.

Oh, and just for your education… the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas are one of the largest and most financially active lobby groups in Austin. There are multiple reports of unethical, unfair and downright wrong practices by this lovely group. Don’t plan on breaking through the three tier system any time soon…

I Like It In The Can

You may have noticed, as of late, there is a big new trend in craft beer… craft beer in cans! The craft beer can revolution is upon us, my friends, as brave microbreweries are taking cans back from the big boys and letting beer freedom ring! CAN I GET A “HALLELUJAH!”

Ok, that was a bit of a stretch. The bottom line is:

1) Cans are cheaper and easier to ship.
2) They cool quickly and are more convenient to take to public places, like beaches.
3) They are more environmentally friendly.
4) They lock in flavor and allow NO light to permeate the beer.
5) Cans are cheaper and easier to ship.

At one time, cans had a bad stigma: They made beer taste metallic, the residual aluminum could lead to Alzheimer’s, the beer in them was usually piss poor. First of all, the Alzheimer’s thing has been disproved. You are safe to drink from a can. Secondly, cans nowadays are much better than the cans of old. Cans today are all made with a fancy liner that prevents any metallic contamination. It’s all in your head. I guarantee the big boys have done PLENTY of sensory evaluation studies on this and pumped plenty of money into aluminum can R&D over the years and I’d bet if I put a can beer and a bottle beer in front of you for a blind tasting, you couldn’t tell the difference. (And yes, I still think draft beer tastes better than either.)

Trust me, I get it. Beer snobs will likely turn their noses up and scoff at the idea of canned beer. But we beer GEEKS couldn’t be happier! Put simply, cheaper and easier to ship means more craft beer from around the nation can make its way to our shelves and bars here in Houston! Why just last week I was able to pick up some Moose Drool Brown Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company in a can. This beer is one of the quintessential brown ales on the American market and, until recently, getting it anywhere but up North was a pipe dream.

So go out and grab a sixer of some canned craft brew and enjoy! Soon enough, you, too will like it in the can! Here’s a great website for the latest in craft beer in a can: http://www.craftcans.com/

— Jeff

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