More on Santa’s Butt

– The Wall Street Journal wraps up where things stand now in the Santa-on-a-beer-label debate. (Subscripton required)

– The Bangor Daily News gets right to the point with an editorial headlined “Maine’s beer label ban misguided.”

The state’s refusal to allow the label is reminiscent of Attorney General John Ashcroft covering the aluminum “Spirit of Justice” statue at the Department of Justice after he grew tired of being photographed in front of her naked breast during news conferences. He ended up drawing more attention to the statue for covering it, and that is what the bureau has done with its ban — provided more free advertising that any company could imagine.

Maine should not be in the business of censoring art or restricting silly holiday puns. It would do better to call the ruling an error made with the best of intentions and lift the bans before Maine becomes the butt of bad puns about its restrictive view of free expression.

– Most of the controversey surrounds labels on beers imported by The Shelton Brothers. Their blog has plenty on the subject.


Beer alert

Deschutes AbyssDeschutes Brewery continues to experiment with barrel aging, making an imperial stout called The Abyss its latest Reserve Series release (Mirror Mirror, an oak-aged barley wine was the first). The Abyss, 11% abv, is available in wax-dipped 22-ounce bottles and on draft at select establishments.

– Denver-based Flying Dog gives us an early heads up on 2007 releases. These will include will include a new summer seasonal, two Wild Dogs and a new addition to their high gravity series, Double Dog Double Pale Ale. Double Dog, 9.5% abv and 84 IBUs, will be sold in four-packs beginning in April. The first Wild Dog release will be a “whiskey barrel-aged” version of the popular Gonzo Imperial Porter, and is due to hit shelves in the early Spring. The beer has already been brewed and transferred into used whiskey barrels purchased from the neighboring Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey Distiller. Plans are still being put together for the brewery’s other specialty releases to round out 2007.

Oskar Blues in Lyons, Colo., has made Gordon its third year-round release. The 8.5% Imperial IPA was sold in hand-labeled cans last year. “The hand-labeled cans of Gordon we did last year got a bunch of big beer lovers really excited,” saids Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis. “So we decided to put it in an official can, and work it into production throughout the year in some small fashion.”

Gordon is brewed in tribute to the late Gordon Knight, who founded several Colorado microbreweries. He lost his life in a 2002 plane crash while fighting a fire outside of Lyons, Colorado. “Gordon was a uniquely ambitious and giving man, and a hero to many of us here in Boulder County,” said Katechis. “He lived a very big life and loved big beer, this beer is our way of honoring him and how he lived.”


Small business mag meets big beers

Fortune Small Business takes a trip to Colorado and writer Christopher S. Stewart writes about “Small breweries, big beer” – giving attention to assertive beers from Great Divide, Oskar Blues and Avery.

He finishes with a sample of Avery’s The Beast (14.9% abv):

“At first there are outward signs of normalcy – the dark color, the unctuous texture and the fizzle when it’s poured into a glass. But when the smell of molasses gets in your nose, and the first thick drop hits the tongue, and you taste the myriad dark fruits and this buzz goes on in your head, it’s just not normal. But I like it. I think.”

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AHA membership up 20%

Celebrating its 28th birthday, the American Homebrewers Association reports membership has grown 20% in 2006.

“Today’s AHA has evolved with the times, recognizing the value of maintaining the tradition and quality of homebrewing in the USA,” said founder Charlie Papazian.

“In 1978 when the AHA was founded it was alive with the thirst for pioneering the original themes of flavor and diversity, says Papazian, “We were the original craft brewers with a passion for telling the world about great beer and how to make it at home.”


Bigger glasses headache for Belgian bars

Bigger glasses mean smaller profits for Belgian bars.

They’re not happy at InBev even though it pays for 3 million Jupiler glasses for the trade.

It began shipping the 25cl (8.45-ounce) glasses after changing the design of its Jupiler Bull logo. The new glasses are 10% bigger, and bars say they can’t raise the average 1.50-euro ($1.99) price without losing sales. Which means they are selling more beer for the same price.

And it only gets worse for the bar owners, because the taxman is also involved. Belgian authorities tax most bars based on the number of 25cl glasses they sell from a 50-liter keg. Taxes are based on the old average of 192 servings per keg, while the new glasses yield 175, says Laurent Wysen, a Liege, Belgium-based lawyer at Misson, which represents the Federation Horeca Wallonie.

It means bar owners are taxed for beers they don’t even sell.


Santa, banned labels, Part XXV

In the week plus since Beer Therapy wrote about the state of New York planning to ban beer labels with Santa, elves and other holiday character on them it seems there is a new related story every day – or sometimes the old story with a different deadline.

Rather than us beating you over the head with developments – the state of Maine getting involved and the labeling issue going beyond images of Santa are both worth paying attention to – here’s a bookmark for you.

Search Google News for Santa + Beer.

(Do that as this post is typed and the first link sends you to “all 266 news stories” so pour yourself a pint before proceeding.)


All Arrogant, all the time

Dayton, Ohio, pub Boston’s Bistro and Pub has won the title of “Most Arrogant Bar in America” by selling sold more Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale from Nov. 3-9 than 46 other national competitors during a brewery-sponsored challenge.

Boston’s has 12 beer taps and two beer engines for cask-conditioned ales. However, choices were few during Stone’s “Most Arrogant Bar in America” Challenge. “We took every single tap off and all we had was Arrogant Bastard,” said head bartender Mark Zimmerman.

Pints of Arrogant Bastard Ale sold for $2 each and 64-ounce growlers for $7. The bar went through 18 kegs. views this competition with particular affection since it grew out of our Challenge Cup, an event we sponsored during American Beer Month each July (ABM sine became American Beer Week and moved to May).