A Visit from St. Lupulin

Although the official release date is June 1, if you stop by the Odell Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado today you can get a taste of their newest seasonal offering, St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale.

A mystical legend in the Odell brewhouse, St. Lupulin (loop-you-lin) was the archetypal hophead. He devoted endless summers to endless rows of hops, tending to the flowers and the beloved resin within — lupulin. Extraordinary oils in this yellow resin provide this dry-hopped extra pale ale with an undeniably pleasing floral aroma.

Odell St. Lupulin

“St. Lupulin is our way of honoring the hop plant,” said brewer Jake O’Mara. “The beer has incredible hop character, but it’s balanced and very drinkable.”

While the beer features generous Cascade, Perle, and Centennial hops, brewers aimed to emphasize aroma and flavor rather than bitterness. At 6.5% ABV, the beer delivers a surprisingly clean and crisp finish. St. Lupulin will be available through September.


Tom Robbins’ B Is for Beer

Last month, well-known novelist Tom Robbins published his latest book, entitled “B Is for Beer.” The publisher’s website describes it as “A Children’s Book About Beer?”

Yes, believe it or not—but B Is for Beer is also a book for adults, and bear in mind that it’s the work of maverick bestselling novelist Tom Robbins, inter-nationally known for his ability to both seriously illuminate and comically entertain.

Once upon a time (right about now) there was a planet (how about this one?) whose inhabitants consumed thirty-six billion gallons of beer each year (it’s a fact, you can Google it). Among those affected, each in his or her own way, by all the bubbles, burps, and foam, was a smart, wide-eyed, adventurous kindergartner named Gracie; her distracted mommy; her insensitive dad; her non-conformist uncle; and a magical, butt-kicking intruder from a world within our world.

Populated by the aforementioned characters—and as charming as it may be subversive—B Is for Beer involves readers, young and old, in a surprising, far-reaching investigation into the limits of reality, the transformative powers of children, and, of course, the ultimate meaning of a tall, cold brewski.

B Is for Beer

Having just finished reading the 125-page novella, I can say it’s a fun read and I heartily recommend it.


Brewers Memorial Ale Festival in Newport, Oregon

Brewers Memorial Ale Festival

Perfect weather greeted attendees of the 3rd Annual Brewer’s Memorial Ale Fest last weekend in Newport Oregon and dogs and beer geeks agree; there was nowhere else they’d rather be.

Brewers Memorial Ale Festival

Many people are confused about what the Brewer’s Memorial Ale Fest is all about. It’s not to honor brewers, though it does so through a wonderfully long list of excellent craft beers. This event honors the memory of Rogue icon “Brewer the Brewdawg”. Brewer was so much more than just a dog (if there is such a thing). Brewer was born and raised in Rogue Ales Brewery, and the only dog in history to achieve the high honor of being named CEO of a brewery. Some say it was a classic case of nepotism instigated by his master, Rogue Ales Brewmaster John Maier, but others who worked alongside the black lab daily for years said he was the true power behind the throne and instrumental in many of the decisions that made Rogue Ales the World Class Brewery it is today.

Brewers Memorial Ale Festival

In May of 2006, after a long full life, Brewer passed away at the age of 13 years. To commemorate his life and contributions to everything that is Rogue, Rogue Ales decided to put on a dog centric microbrew festival at their World Headquarters in Newport, Oregon. So, in Brewer’s honor, Rogue Brewery opens its doors to dogs of all shapes and sizes and their human caretakers for two full days of fun, food, games, and music. (The festival benefits the local Animal Charities.)

Brewers Memorial Ale Festival

This wasn’t my first time at this event. My wife Bonne, dog Maggie, and I attended last year and were delighted with the doggy-ness of the festival. If you’re a little apprehensive about exposing your dog to this kind intense dogdom (there will be dogs everywhere), you can put that fear to rest. You’ll never find a friendlier group of dogs anywhere. They seemed to know the festival is for them and they’re all on their best behavior.

Brewers Memorial Ale Festival

The festival features lots of dog activities. We laughed and cheered the contestants in the Dog Games, which often seemed to confuse the poor pups, but it was all in good fun and there were no losers. Of course we also got our dog washed. Oh, by the way, there was a pretty good selection of craft beer there too. ( 50 styles from 20+ microbreweries)

Brewers Memorial Ale Festival

Of course Brewer’s Ale by Rogue, a seasonal beer brewed especially for the event was a highlight.

Brewers Memorial Ale Festival

But beers flowed from breweries across the country including Allagash, Amnesia, Anderson Valley, Bear Republic, Block 15, Boundary Bay, Calapooia, Caldera, Diamond Knot, Eugene City Brewery, Fort George, Issaquah Brewhouse, Laurelwood, Ninkasi, Pelican, Rogue Ales, Skagit River, Standing Stone, Steelhead, Wakonda, and more. Non-canines enjoyed tours of the Rogue Brewery and the new 3150 square foot cooler. The House of Spirits, Rogue’s craft distillery right next door, also offered tours and tastings of its award-winning spirits like Spruce Gin, Hazelnut Spice Rum and Dead Guy Whiskey.

Brewers Memorial Ale Festival

If you attend, you’ll find Brewers Memorial Ale Fest has a completely different feel from your typical beer festival. Though the beer is good, it’s not really discussed that much. It’s about dogs, community, friendship, and beer. In that order. Dogs break down the barriers between people and we made many new acquaintances as everywhere we went in the festival people and dogs reached out in friendship to us. Brewers Memorial Ale Fest is an annual outing for this family. My wife and I love the closeness and camaraderie between strangers who share a love of dogs and beer.

Brewers Memorial Ale Festival

An Album of Pictures from the 3rd Annual Brewer’s Memorial Ale Fest can be found on at Brewer’s Memorial Ale Fest 2009.


Action Alert: Federal Excise Tax

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA) held a hearing on Tuesday, May 12th on Financing Comprehensive Healthcare Reform. Senator Baucus invited healthcare policy experts, tax policy experts, and economists to join Finance Committee members to discuss the tax and savings options that the Committee should consider as it works to craft a healthcare reform bill. Senators and experts discussed a wide variety of ideas for looking for funding within and outside the healthcare system, including proposals by two of the witnesses to triple the beer tax and to find savings to pay for healthcare.

It is imperative that you call your member of Congress and your Senators, especially if they are on the Senate Finance Committee and weigh-in on the devastating impact ANY increase on the federal excise tax on beer would have on your business. The two links below can help you determine your member of Congress and Senators.

If you want to read more about the Senate Finance Committee round table on Tuesday, where three of the thirteen people called on to testify about how to pay for Obama’s $1.5 trillion universal health case initiative suggested that the excise tax on beer should be increased by between 50% and 400%, check out my other blog, the Brookston Beer Bulletin. The following two links can help you determine your member of Congress and Senators. And below is a table of the members of the Senate Finance Committee with a link to each member. Public comments can also be made at the committee’s website.





Raising Alcohol Taxes Will Have a Severe Economic Impact,
Offsetting Any Revenue Generated by the Tax

Directly and indirectly, the beer industry employs approximately 1.9 million Americans, paying them almost $62 billion in wages and benefits and generating more than $198 billion in economic output. Proposals to triple or quadruple the excise tax will have severe economic impacts on the industry. Just tripling the current beer tax to $20.25/proof gallon will cost the country jobs at a time when the national unemployment rate is the highest it has been since 1983. Beer Institute estimates that a 300% increase in the excise tax on beer will result in 179,000 lost jobs, $5.9 billion in lost wages, $18.9 billion in lost economic output, and $2.7 billion in lost federal, state, and local revenues from decreased production and consumption. The impacts of these tax increases may be even greater for small businesses as microbreweries and brewpubs will be hit with significantly larger tax bills. Many of these smaller companies may be forced to close.

An excise tax is designed to collect additional monies as volumes increase over time. The growth in beer industry volumes have added more than $800 million in additional federal revenue since 1991 when the beer excise tax was doubled. Excise taxes are hidden taxes on consumers who pay them in the final retail price of a product. In 2008, taxes on the beer industry at all levels of government added up to more than $41 billion dollars. The total tax burden of federal, state, and local taxes on beer are more than 41 percent of the retail price paid by consumers.

Beer Taxes Disproportionately Affect
Lower Income Consumers

Approximately 50 percent of all beer purchased in the United States is by consumers with household incomes of $50,000 per year or less. That means the relative impact of beer excise taxes on households in the lowest income brackets is 6.5 times greater than those with the highest incomes.

The vast majority of our consumers are hardworking Americans who do not abuse alcohol products (Source: Harris Interactive, 2008). By levying an even higher tax on this segment of the population, Congress will make it even more difficult for them to enjoy a simple pleasure during these difficult economic times. These are exactly the people who should not be penalized in a misguided attempt to deter the small percentage of the public that abuses these products. Furthermore, during the fall 2008 campaigns, many candidates called for providing tax relief to this portion of the population. Brewers and beer importers agree, which is why they have supported measures such as the Brewers Excise and Economic Relief (B.E.E.R.) Act of 2009, which already has 174 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. The BEER Act (H.R. 836) hopes to return the federal beer excise tax back to its pre-1991 level of $9 per barrel for large brewers and $3.50 for small brewers.


World Beer Fest Means It’s Officially Spring in Raleigh

I would like everyone to know that the REAL reason the rain promised in the forecast for World Beer Fest day in Raleigh didn’t happen was because I WORE A COAT. I find that invariably, when I come prepared for foul weather, it never occurs and I am left dragging around unneeded clothing for the entire day. You may thank me for my sacrifice with gifts of paper currency sent to Banjo at

I’d rented a GPS unit with my car for the drive out from Wilmington and it made finding the festival and the Moore Square Parking facility very easy so I had loads of time before the event opened to wander the capitol area.

With Swine Flu alerts crackling over the airwaves like hurricane warnings I wondered how well attended this year’s World Beer Festival would be.

I took my yearly stroll around the capitol grounds, much of which was fenced off and dug up this year, and I noticed something that hadn’t penetrated my brain before, the Capitol building is ringed by churches. “Lawd yes,” we Southerners love our Sunday sermons, but this hit home with me as a true testament to how little separation there actually was/is between church and state in Tar Heel culture. This realization was underlined by my inability to bring up a beer website on the free wifi at Charlotte, NC airport on the way in due to content restrictions.

As the lines began to form for the fest in Moore Square I continued my walk around town, and guess what I found…a block party! But not your regular type of block party, noooooo, this is North Carolina after all. It was a Big Ol Christian block party, right there next to the States Biggest Beer Bash! There were Christian rockers, rappers, and gospel singers. The air was filled with the intoxicating smells of hotdogs, chicken and Pork BBQ and, as most North Carolinians are, they were a warm happy crowd of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet.

After a couple shots at the poor guy in the dunk booth, (it was for a good cause) some good gospel, and a half a BBQ chicken, I was primed to meet the Beers of the World.

World Beer Festival

By now the line was long and noisy with hundreds of gleeful beer enthusiasts. Beer t-shirts and pretzel necklaces were the uniform of the day and everyone was dressed for a hot humid day of beer drinking. The demographics of most beer festivals I go to are heavily slanted towards the male of the species, but not here at Raleigh WBF, where I think it was at least 50/50 if not a little more female than male in mix.

World Beer Festival

WBF volunteers moved down the line passing out the Festival Beer Guides and checking IDs. The All About Beer team’s entry process runs like a well oiled machine so once attendee’s hit the gate, it’s a quick and easy process for ticket scanning and getting your tasting glass.

World Beer Festival

Like the others waiting in line, I’d had a chance to peruse the list of the fest’s delicious craft brew and place a check next to those I absolutely had to try or in some cases retry. This done I referred to the map in the center, and made my plan of attack.

World Beer Festival

Laugh if you like, but those tents fill to bursting with a sea of humanity within minutes so it’s important to know where you are going and what you’re seeking. Without a plan you’ll just end up moving from table to table drinking great beer indiscriminately and who wants that? Okay, I’ll admit it. I always start off with a plan, but I’m easily distracted. Who can pass up a chance to enjoy great beers like Magic Hat’s Wacko, Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout, or Rogue Ale’s I2PA? Not me.

World Beer Festival

Since my plan was going to hell I tried resorting to the Beer Flight list. The list breaks beers down into fun categories’ like; Tar Heel Beer, Not Afraid of the Dark, Culture Clash, Belgian & Belgian Style Brews, You Put What in my Beer?, & The Hop Heads Delight. I chose “Not Afraid of the Dark”, but that didn’t work for me either, what I ended up with was a lot of indecipherable notes on more beers than I care to admit I tried that day. Here are some highlights.

World Beer Festival

Aviator Brewing’s HogWild IPA was being pulled through a hop infuser filled with fresh hops, giving a beer that is already very good an excellent fresh hop tang.

Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter – This beer has been winning awards since 1991 and still stands as one of the best American Porters I’ve had.

Lost Abbey Carnevale – The blonde saison with a mild west coast hop bite is a new seasonal release from this 3 year old California Brewery, brewed to mark the Lenten Season before Easter. My notes described it with one word…beautiful.

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron – Is there anything Sam Calagione makes that doesn’t have a story behind it? If so I’d like to know what it is. This 12% abv beer is described as “unfiltered, unfettered, unprecedented brown ale aged in handmade wooden brewing vessels. The caramel and vanilla complexity unique to this beer comes from the exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood from which these tanks were crafted. Palo Santo means “holy tree” and its wood has been used in South American wine-making communities.” What you should also know is Sam imported enough of the Paraguayan Palo Santo wood to build his own 10,000 gallon tank. Like many of Sam’s beers the story alone makes you want to try the beer and like all of the Dogfish Head beers I’ve had, it’s excellent.

Mendocino Spring Bock- First introduced last spring, this offering from one of California’s Pioneer Craft Breweries was a wonderful break from heavy beers. Rich Malty flavor with a slight floral nose, very light and enjoyable. It’s hard to believe it’s 7% abv, you can’t taste it at all.

World Beer Festival

Of course, there’s more to the World Beer Fest than beer. There was music, vendors, and sessions covering basic beer 101, the Triangles new brewers, Beer & Chocolate, and more. I finished my day working my way through a huge plate of fresh fried potato chips while listening to a Southern Reggie Rock band called “Guta”. .

Raleigh is my favorite WBF venue; it really is a class event, and the best way to kick off the beer fest season. Congratulations to my friends at All About Beer Magazine and the hundreds of volunteers that work so hard to pull together the elements that make this such a fine festival, job well-done.

World Beer Festival

More event pictures can be found on Flickr.
More information about the next World Beer Festival can be found at All About Beer.


American Craft Beer Week This Week

American Craft Beer Week begins today and lasts until Sunday May 17. The week is described as “a national celebration highlighting the culture and contributions of craft beer.” Craft brewers want the week to inspire beer enthusiasts to declare their independence by supporting breweries that produce fewer than 2 million barrels of beer a year and are independently owned. During the week, special brewery tours, beer and food pairing events, special release craft beers and festivals will take place all across the U.S. It’s sponsored by the Brewers Association, a trade organization of small brewers based in Boulder, Colorado.

American Craft Beer Week

Originally held on a single day, it was changed to a week when it was recognized by the U.S. Congress, who declared the weekly holiday when they passed House Resolution 753 in 2006. You can find our more information at the ACBW website and also the ACBW Facebook page.


Texas Brewers Need Your Help, Too

Support Your Local BrewerySupport Your Local Brewery has issued an E-Action Alert:

May 7, 2009

Dear Texas Beer Activist,

The small brewers of Texas have asked for your help in moving HB 2094, which would authorize certain brewers and manufacturers to conduct tours of their premises after which tour attendees would be allowed to purchase a six pack or a case of beer for off-premise consumption.

Small Texas breweries believe passing this legislation is critical for their continued growth and success as it would enable them to ultimately sell more Texas craft beer through the distribution system. Increased sales would benefit brewers, wholesalers, retailers and consumers. The bill would also allow Texas small breweries to compete fairly with out-of-state small breweries that have the same rights in their home states.

HB 2094 is now before the House Committee on Calendars, which determines if and when bills are sent to the House floor for a vote. With the legislative session ending in 2 weeks, it is extremely important to let the members of the Committee on Calendars know of your support for expeditiously moving this bill to the full House for a vote. Following is a list of committee members – please follow their individual links for contact information and call or email today!

Brian McCall, Chair – Plano
Eddie Lucio, Vice Chair – Brownsville
Norma Chávez – El Paso
Garnet Coleman – Houston
Byron Cook – Corsicana
Brandon Creighton – Conroe
Charlie Geren – Fort Worth
Jim Keffer – Eastland
Lois Kolkhorst – Brenham
Edmund Kuempel – Seguin
Jim McReynolds – Lufkin
Alan Ritter – Nederland
Burt Solomons – Carrollton

Due to the short time remaining in the legislative session, we are also asking you to call or email your State Representative at this time to express your support for HB2094 in anticipation that the bill will move to the House floor for a vote. To find contact information for your State Representative go to Who Represents Me?, enter your address and look for the State Representative listing.

Thank you for your support of Texas small brewers.


New York Brewers Need Your Help

Support Your Local BrewerySupport Your Local Brewery has issued an E-Action Alert:

May 4, 2009

Dear New York Beer Activist,

At the request of the New York State Brewers Association, we are alerting you to an issue which could dramatically affect your access to the craft beers made by small breweries all across the country.

As you have likely learned, the state of New York recently enacted a requirement that bottled products sold in your state must bear a New York-specific UPC code for bottle deposit and redemption purposes. This requirement will have severe negative impacts on many businesses, including and particularly, small breweries. The cost to produce a state-specific label with a unique UPC and the inventory and shipping challenges that presents, will mean many small breweries will be forced to pull their beers out of the New York market because the cost of doing business in the state will be simply too high. And just think of the precedent this potentially sets for other states should they enact similar requirements…small brewer out-of-state sales could be decimated coast to coast.

Several brewing companies have already weighed in on this issue with the Governor, explaining they would have no choice but to discontinue distribution of their beers. This is bad for the state of New York, bad for small brewers everywhere, and perhaps worst of all for New York residents who are craft beer drinkers. Access to the wide range of beer you currently enjoy will be severely limited in the future should this requirement remain on the books.

Please take a few minutes and call or email your State Senator and Assemblyman. Let them know that you feel the New York-specific UPC is a bad idea for business and a bad idea for Empire State residents who drink craft beer and vote. Ask them to support a repeal of the New York-specific UPC requirement as contained in the recently passed Bottle Bill.

To identify your state elected officials by zip code and for contact information: