Higher taxes for Michigan beer?

John Bebow, executive director of the Center for Michigan, a self-styled centrist think tank in Ann Arbor, says raising the beer tax should be an option to address the state’s looming budget deficit.

He suggests boosting the tax on a 12-ounce package 10 cents, a pretty sizable boost.

Does he have another agenda? Well he does say raising taxes on beer has the added benefit of helping “curb irresponsible behavior” by reducing consumption of alcohol.

Mike Lashbrook, president of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association, points out that Michigan’s excise tax on beer is already higher than many neighboring states, he said, and consumers still pay the 6% state sales tax on beer.


But it’s not beer . . .

On Jan. 1, Vermont changed its tax code, making beer purchases subject to Vermont’s 6 percent sales tax.

It’s meant to be a tax on alcohol, but not all stores understand that.

Tim Krebser, who said he drinks a six-pack of Busch NA a day, has registered a complaint with the state that he is being charged tax on the beer. He’s been told that he’s correct he shouldn’t have to pay the tax.

Now he just has to convince his local market.


Blues and Brews in Memphis

The Blues Foundation in Memphis and Boscos Squared, a local brewery-restaurant, are teaming up to host a fund raising event to benefit the Memphis based international blues organization April 17. With more than 145 affiliated blues organizations, the Blue Foundation serves as the hub for the worldwide passion for Blues Music.

Blues and Brews will feature entertainment by acoustic blues guitarist John Hammond, who has been playing the blues for 40 years..

Tickets for the event are $100 per person and will be available atn The Blues Foundation website. The ticket price includes food, beverage and entertainment.


CAMRA expands Cyclops campaign

Britain’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has extended its Cyclops campaign, which uses symbols indicate what to beers look, smell and taste like. Everard Brewery started the campaign last March, and CAMRA made it official in August.

More breweries continue to show interest in participating and CAMRA has produced a Cyclops information leaflet which it hopes will increase real ale sales for all partcipating breweries. The leaflet will be distributed to thousands of pubs across Britain by CAMRA members.

David Bremner, Head of Marketing for Everards, pointed out the campaign needs to reach a tipping point. “For Cyclops to continue having an impact on the real ale market, more Cyclops partners need to produce eye catching Point of Sale material and distribute to the pubs across Britain,” he said. “CAMRA’s new Cyclops leaflet, and more breweries supporting the scheme, will help to increase the consumer awareness of this initiative and lead to more people understanding and drinking real ale.”

Tony Jerome of CAMRA added: “There has been a large number of pubs that have contacted CAMRA in the last year telling us that they would like to promote their real ales but do not know how to. These Word templates that have been created will be accessible to most licensees that own a PC. The templates will allow licensees to create their own Cyclops material and promote their own range of real ales to their customers. Hopefully this will encourage pubs to become more marketing led and help see their real ale sales increase.”

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Why gluten-free beer matters

Keith O’Brien offers an explanation at on why it makes a difference that Anheuser-Busch has brewed a gluten-free beer called Redbridge.

“I think it is the tipping point for people suffering from celiac disease, diagnosed and undiagnosed,” said Alice Bast, executive director of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. “The fact that Anheuser-Busch has taken such an interest, a lot of food companies – major food companies – are going to get into the marketplace. And maybe even some beer companies will get into the marketplace to compete against them.”

Several other breweries also brew beer that is gluten free, including St. Louis Brewery, producer of Schlafly beers. The brewery sells it only in its Bottleworks brewery-restaurant.

“We’re very founded on our local market,” said Schlafy vice president Dan Kopman. The brewery has strong ties to the local Slow Food movement, participating in events at both restaurants as well as elsewhere. Bottleworks also hosts a weekly growers market in season.

“We’ve had demand from local celiacs, and that’s why were doing this,” Kopman said. “I don’t see this as an area for small brewery to expand, to build our core business around sorghum beer.

“We are appealing to a segment of the population that wants to eat out and drink out and wants it to be gluten free.”

Nothing wrong with that.


New beer alert

Beertown BrownBridgePort Brewing’s new seasonal, Beertown Brown, tips its hat toward the city of Portland, Oregon, where it is brewed. But also England, as it is brewed in the style of a Northern English Brown Ale, showcasing flavors of carmael, toffee and rich chocolate in a modest 5.2% abv beer. “Brown Ale is a small but expanding category with great opportunity for growth,” said head brewmaster Karl Ockert.

Portland mayor Tom Potter poured the ceremonial first pint of Beertown Brown and at the same time declared Portland “Beertown,” where he will serve as honorary mayor. Portland has 28 breweries operating within city limits, more than any other city in the world, eitht more in the surrounding metro area, and three more are due to open this year.

Hop HengeDeschutes Brewery turned up the volume this year, adding hops to its seasonal Hop Henge* to make it an Imperial IPA. The 8.1% abv beer now packs 95 IBU (International Bitterness Units). The brewery uses two and a half pounds of Centennial, Cascade and Northern Brewer hops per barrel when brewing the beer, then dry hops it with another half pound.

Hop Henge balances lighter fleshy fruits and a solid blast of citrus in the aroma, then toasty malt sweetness on the palate mixed with more citrus. Unapologetically hoppy, with a rough bitter finish.

* And, we might mention, bringing back one of our favorite labels ever.

Otter Creek Brewing continues its popular World Tour brew series in 2007. “Otter Kilter” Wee Heavy Ale is the newest beer in the Otter Creek Brewing World Tour. Brewed with Scottish Golden Promise barley malt, the beer accents a rich caramel flavor. Otter Creek is also releasing a Extra Special Bitter for the season.


More about Bud.TV

Investors Business Daily has more on Bud.TV:

Anheuser-Busch will spend $40 million on Internet marketing in 2007, analysts say. That’s about 10% of its overall media budget. A big chunk of that will go toward, analysts speculate. Anheuser-Busch wouldn’t say what it’s spending on Bud.TV.

And the content? will feature mainly two- to five-minute “Webisodes.” Anheuser-Busch plans to draw upon its many sponsorship and marketing relationships. Ponturo says Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be featured in some video clips.

The beer maker also plans to partner for content with men’s magazine Maxim and New York’s Tribeca Film Festival.

In Chicago, Anheuser-Busch has filmed short Webisodes called “What Girls Want,” which critique pickup lines men use at a bar. Another vignette features a chimp acting as a used-car salesman.

Where does beer fit in?


Czech Bud wins brand battle in Portugal

When Anheuser-Busch and Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar last week announced a deal where A-B would distribute Budvar, called Czechvar in the U.S., they also noted this would not prejudice their ongoing legal battles over the use of the brand names Budweiser, Bud, etc. around the world.

So here’s the news:

American brewer Anheuser-Busch cannot sell beer under the brand name Budweiser in Portugal, the highest chamber of Europe’s human rights court ruled Thursday, in the latest round of a global legal battle between the U.S. beer giant and Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar.

The U.S. brewery lost its fight against a 2001 decision by Portugal’s Supreme Court, which ruled that Budejovicky Budvar had the right to use the brand name under a 1986 treaty between the Czech Republic and Portugal.

The beat goes on.


Grolsch ships wheat beer to UK

Coors, which distributes Dutch-brewed Grolsch, in the UK is rolling out Grolsch Weizen in London and plans to take it national later this year.

The Morning Advertiser reports:

Unlike InBev’s Hoegaarden, which hails from Belgium and leads the white beer market, Grolsch Weizen is a German-style wheat beer, which the brewer hopes will give it a point of difference.

Might we end up seeing this beer in the United States as well?

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Campaign against cheaper beer

England Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) – a consumer advocacy group – has mounted a campaign against cheap beer prices, pointing out some supermarkets are selling beer for little more than water.

CAMRA, members of parliament, trade press and pub industry chiefs are calling for urgent action to prevent promotions that serve to exacerbate the problem of binge drinking.

Legistlations would “call on supermarkets and off licences to curb irresponsible alcohol price promotions and stop using alcohol as a loss leader.”


Higher beer prices ahead

Beer prices may soon rise for consumers because of the increasing costs of barley and other raw materials.

The Associated Press story focuses on larger breweries, since they sell most of the beer.

“Raw material costs have gone up so much in such a short period of time, it’s unavoidable that you will see some price increases eventually,” said Morningstar analyst Matthew Reilly.

One of the culprits is barley. The story reports on North American production, but barley/malt prices have also been ramping up in Europe after a tough growing year. That means that even craft breweries that use continental malts also face higher prices.

Meanwhile, input from one craft brewery owner:

The situation may improve later in the year – a prospect smaller breweries are counting on to help with costs. Mark Stutrud, president and founder of Summit Brewery in St. Paul, Minn., said he’s hoping prices fall somewhat in July and August.
“If there’s an increase in the amount that cultivated, that would be good news,” Stutrud said.

Summit Brewery is the third largest brewery in Minnesota and makes more than 60,000 barrels of beer a year, including an extra pale ale popular in the Twin Cities area. Its beers are available from distributors in 13 states in the Midwest and Great Plains.

Stutrud has had to increase costs modestly each year since early 2000 to keep up with price increases and inflation.

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Victory reprises Couples Beerathlon

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Victory Brewing in southeast Pennsylvania is bringing back its Couples Beerathlon at Victory Love Fest. Held Feb. 9, it is comprised of three events.

The three tasks to be jointly competed in by the ten couples include the Victory Beer Brains, The Running of the Mugs, and Malt-Sack Madness. Victory Beer Brains will be a game show style beer trivia competition while The Running of the Mugs will be a test of service, spillage, and speed. Malt-Sack Madness will have five competitors, their legs confined to sacks that once contained barley malt, racing against one another for speed and lack of spillage. The combined points from each event placing will determine the overall Couples Victory Champion.

Winners will take home the Golden Pitcher of Victory, branded Victory attire and six cases of their favorite Victory beer.

Applicants are now being accepted for the competition. Individuals who believe they have what it takes should forward their information including name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and why they should be chosen as a contestant to Jake Burns (or attn: Jake Burns, Victory Brewing Co., 420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown, PA 19335).