Michigan ends ban on Flying Dog Raging Bitch

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission has reversed its decision banning Flying Dog Brewery’s Raging Bitch Belgian-Style India Pale Ale from the state.

In a press release, the company explained the move came three weeks after Flying Dog’s first hearing on the case before the federal court in Grand Rapids. Flying Dog argued that the original decision by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission violated the company’s First Amendment rights and sought a preliminary injunction to lift enforcement of the commission’s ban while waiting for a final judgment from the court. Michigan reversed its decision to ban Raging Bitch in the state before the court ruled on Flying Dog’s request for an injunction.

“The Michigan Liquor Control Commission’s involuntary reversal of opinion is a victory for craft beer,” Flying Dog CEO and general partner Jim Caruso said for the press release. “Now, the great people of Michigan are no longer denied access to Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA, Flying Dog’s top-selling beer. But the fight for First Amendment rights in Michigan continues to rage on.”

Although the commission approved the sale of Raging Bitch in the state, Flying Dog will not drop its First Amendment lawsuit. Flying Dog originally filed suit in U.S. District Court on March 25 not only to overturn the commission’s regulation banning Raging Bitch, but to establish that allowing the commission to ban any beer label they simply find offensive would be unconstitutional. The suit seeks to recover damages from the loss of Flying Dog sales under the rule.

The controversy began in September 2009, when Flying Dog Brewery applied for a license to sell Raging Bitch in Michigan. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission barred the sale of Raging Bitch, stating the beer’s label is “detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare.”


Brewing chemists honor Charles Bamforth

The American Society of Brewing Chemists recently honored Charles Bamforth with their 2011 Award of Distinction. Bamforth is the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences in the Department of Food Science and Technology and also serves the brewing industry in several other ways.

Bamforth began his work in the brewing industry in 1978. Before arriving at UC Davis in 1999, he was the deputy director-general of Brewing Research International and research manager and quality assurance manager of Bass Brewers.

In addition to his faculty appointment at UC Davis, he also serves as a special professor in the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham, England, and is a fellow of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, the Society of Biology, and the International Academy of Food Science and Technology. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists and has written several books.

The award was presented recently during the society’s annual meeting in Florida.


Wisconsin brewers ask voters to join distribution battle

Support Your Local BreweryThe Wisconsin Brewers Guild is asking state residents to join others in sending a message to Governor Walker to veto budget language related to microbreweries. The language in question, known as Motion 414, would take away small brewers’ abilities to distribute each other’s beers and own and operate their own taverns.

A letter from the guild members explains:

Such drastic alterations to what has proven to be a successful business model will only lead to a stifling of growth and a loss of jobs.

Unfortunately, when this issue was being discussed, small brewers weren’t even consulted and have been completely shut out of the legislative process. The Guild has pledged to sit down with legislators, government officials and other interested parties to discuss the issues and find common ground, but that can’t happen if the budget is signed into law with Motion 414 as part of the bill. Read the guild’s letter to the Governor.

Please email and/or call the Governor’s office today and tell him to veto Motion 414 in its entirety and allow Wisconsin’s small breweries to continue to create jobs and add value to the state’s economy.

You can find Governor Walker’s contact information here.

Thanks for your support of Wisconsin’s small brewers.

Jeff Hamilton, President
Wisconsin Brewer’s Guild

More about the story can be found here.


New Yorkers: Brewers need your help

Support Your Local BrewerySupport Your Local Brewery has issued an E-Action Alert for New York, where the smaller brewers need help getting Senate Bill 1315, legislation affecting distribution agreements between small brewers and beer wholesalers, to the Senate floor for a vote. The fate of this important bill now lies in the hands of the Senate Rules Committee.

They’ve sent this message:

The legislative session has been extended through Wednesday June 22nd and it is imperative and urgent that you phone and email the Senate Rules Committee members today and ask them to move S. 1315 to the Senate floor for a “yes” vote this week.

Key Points

• Permits brewers with less than 300,000 barrels annual production and comprising less than 3% of a wholesaler’s annual sales volume to terminate an agreement with that wholesaler without having good cause (currently, a brewer may only terminate with good cause, i.e. the distributor is not properly representing a beer or brewer in the market. This is a long, difficult and expensive process and success for the brewer is by no means an assured outcome).

• The bill also requires payment of fair market value for the applicable distribution rights lost and allows for an arbitration panel to review the fair market value.

• This is a jobs creation bill that will allow small brewers the ability to grow their business through increased access to market. This will benefit both small brewers and beer drinkers.

• Locally-made New York State beers should be available in all New York markets, not just those decided by a distributor.

Rules Committee Members’ contact information is available online by linking to their individual home pages under their names on the left navigation bar.

Special note for those living in Brooklyn: Senator Golden is still on the fence with this bill because he has been told that if passed, it will lead to jobs losses. Please phone, email and fax Senator Golden and stress to him that this is a job creation bill because it will allow small brewers greater market access, thereby allowing them to brew more beer and employee more people.

Thank you in advance for your immediate attention to this important matter.

New York State Brewers Association


Senate establishes own Small Brewers Caucus

Senators from Montana and Idaho have established a Senate Small Brewers Caucus. The House Small Brewers Caucus was formed in 2007.

In a Dear Colleague letter, Senators Max Baucus (D-Mon.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) wrote, “In recent years, the more than 1,700 craft brewers all across America have met growing consumer demand for their products by brewing flavorful and innovative beers which they encourage Americans to enjoy in a responsible manner. These small and independent brewers . . . generate more than $3 billion in wages and benefits, and pay more than $2.3 billion in business, personal and consumption taxes.”

The caucus will provide opportunities for senators and staff to learn about all aspects of brewing business. Montana’s small brewers don’t just make great beer out of the best Montana grains — they also support good-paying Montana jobs,” Sen. Baucus said. Sen. Crapo pointed out that Idaho produces several of beer’s key ingredients, notably barley, wheat and hops. “While advocating for the excise tax relief bill, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many of Idaho’s small craft brewers and heard firsthand from local entrepreneurs about the opportunities for economic growth and job creation that the industry can provide. This caucus will provide Senators with a better understanding of all aspects of small brewing and the positive impact it has on their communities,” he said.


New Belgium drives deeper into East

New Belgium Brewing has announced it has signed contractual agreements with 17 distributors in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. areas. The deals broaden New Belgium distribution to 28 states and the District of Columbia. Those territories officially open Aug. 22. Of the 17 distributors, seven are in the Miller/Coors network, nine are Anheuser Busch/Inbev and one is independent.

“We are, of course, very excited to be working with the highest caliber distributors in such an incredibly competitive market,” New Belgium’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, Neil Reeve, said for a press release. “It was a difficult decision in that there were no bad options. In the end, we chose a healthy mix.”

New Belgium plans to open in all new markets with 22-ounce bottles of Fat Tire, Ranger IPA and the fall seasonal, Hoptober Ale. Trippel and Lips of Faith beers will also be available in some markets, with draft and 12-ounce packages to follow.

No deal has been signed for Montgomery County, Maryland, at this time though there are plans to open that area eventually. Because the county operates independently of the three-tier system, there are logistical challenges to all facets of assuring quality.

“New Belgium would like very much to be in Montgomery County,” said Reeve. “We are simply trying to figure out how to make it work to our standards in a way that is respectful to the distributor, New Belgium, our retailers and our beer drinkers.”


Charles Koch, who gave son Jim the Sam Adams recipe, dies

Charles Joseph Koch Jr., father of Boston Beer Company co-founder Jim Koch, has died. He was 89 years old.

A press release from Boston Beer explains, “The elder Mr. Koch was a guiding light for his oldest son, Jim, in the creation of The Boston Beer Company. He contributed his immense knowledge of brewing, as well as his sound business advice. But his greatest gift lay in an old trunk stored in his attic. That trunk contained family brewing memorabilia and beer recipes dating back to the 1800s. Indeed, he handed over to his son what he considered the best of the family beer recipes. That beer was first brewed in 1984 and soon appeared in taverns and restaurants in Boston under the name Samuel Adams Boston Lager. The success of Samuel Adams Boston Lager is widely credited as a catalyst for the American Craft Beer Revolution.”

Charles Koch was born in Cincinnati on November 14, 1922, and after majoring in chemical engineering at the University of Cincinnati he became the fifth generation of eldest Koch sons to become a brewer.

He apprenticed in some of Cincinnati’s leading breweries, including Wiedemann, Hudepohl, Burger, Bavarian and Schoenling Brewing Company. He also graduated from America’s oldest brewing school, the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1948 and served as brewmaster at the Wooden Shoe Brewery in Minster, Ohio. Coming full circle, The Boston Beer Company bought the Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewery in Cincinnati in 1996. At the conclusion of a major renovation to the renamed Samuel Adams Brewery in 2005, one of the brewery’s two, new copper brew kettles was named in honor of Charles Koch.

Koch left the beer business when he saw that the taste for full-flavored beers was on the wane. In 1958, he co-founded Chemicals, Inc., a distribution company of brewing and industrial chemicals in Cincinnati, Ohio and retired in 1987. He served as a member of The Boston Beer Company’s first Board of Advisors and then on the Board of Directors from its initial public offering in 1995 until his death.


French likely homebrewing 2,500 years ago

Archaeologists have discovered proof that residents of southeastern France were making beer at home during the Iron Age.

Laurent Bouby from the Centre de Bio-Archeologie et d’Ecology in Montepellier, France, and colleagues unearthed the evidence of brewing in Mediterranean France as far back as the fifth century. Studying material collected at the Roquepertuse excavation site in Provence they found poorly preserved barley grains, suggesting germination, as well as equipment and other remains of deliberate malting in the home. Taken together, these findings suggest that, as well as regular wine making, the French had an early passion for beer brewing. The work has just been published online in Springer’s journal Human Ecology.

Previously, researchers had only found evidence of wine production in the region. Bouby and team analysed three samples of sediment from excavations carried out in the 1990s. One sample was taken from the floor of a dwelling, close to a hearth and oven. The other two samples came from the contents of a ceramic vessel and from a pit. There were carbonized plant remains in all three samples, dominated by barley.

The barley grains identified were poorly preserved and predominantly sprouted (90 percent of the sample), suggesting that they were carbonized at the end of the malting process and before the grinding of dry malt. The neighboring oven is likely to have been used to stop the germination process at the desired level for beer making, by drying and roasting the grain.

Based on the equipment found at the Roquepertuse dwelling, the authors suggest that the habitants soaked the grain in vessels, spread it out and turned it during germination on the flat paved floor area, dried the grain in the oven to stop germination, and used domestic grindstones to grind the malted grain. Then hearths and containers were likely used for fermentation and storage.

The authors conclude: “The Roquepertuse example suggests that beer was really produced within the context of domestic activities. Compared to other archaeobotanical and archaeological evidence, it contributes to portraying a society which combined an intricate use of various alcoholic beverages including beer, which was probably of long-standing local tradition, and wine, which was, at least in part, promoted by colonial contacts with Mediterranean agents.”


What’s new? Wheat in cans, Keith’s from Canada

Shock Top Belgian WhiteShock Top Belgian White is available in cans for the first time today.

“Shock Top’s popularity just continues to increase year after year with a 24% growth in 2010 alone, and with the growth in canned beer sales over the past several years, we’re excited to bring the two together,” said Andy Goeler, vice president of import, craft and specialty brands for Anheuser-Busch. “We know fans of this Belgian-style wheat ale have a wide range of interests, and now, they have an easy-to-transport package they can bring anywhere life takes them.”

Earlier this year, Shock Top Belgian White rolled out its first extension with Shock Top Raspberry Wheat, available nationwide on draught and in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles.

* Dundee Ales & Lagers has also begun selling its summer seasonal, Dundee Summer Wheat, in 12-ounce cans. Summer Wheat, an American-style Hefeweizen with a 4.5 percent alcohol by volume, is the first beer in the Dundee line-up available in cans. It is brewed with 40% wheat with a touch of rye malt.

“Dundee is joining the ‘craft can revolution.’ We’re glad to see the stereotype that cans are not appropriate for premium beers like Summer Wheat begin to dissipate,” said lead Dundee brewer Jim McDermott. “In actuality, cans preserve freshness, quality and authenticity of the beer, which is especially important during the warmer summer months.”

* Canadian brewer Alexander Keith’s is making three beers available in the United States for the first time, selling Nova Scotia Style Lager, Nova Scotia Style Pale Ale and Nova Scotia Style Brown Ale in 22 states. Although new to the United States, Alexander Keith’s has been brewing beer in Nova Scotia since 1820.

The three new beers are brewed in Baldwinsville, N.Y., and Alexander Keith’s will also continue to be brewed in Canada in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Ontario.


Deschutes brewmaster stepping down

Brewmaster Larry Sidor is leaving Deschutes Brewery at the end of the year to pursue a lifelong dream of starting and running his own brewery. Sidor has been at the brewery for eight years, following 23 years at Olympia Brewing, then working in the hop trade in Yakima.

“My years at Deschutes Brewery have been incredible. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed leading and collaborating with the brewing team to hone and create its phenomenal portfolio of beers, but also originating new beer styles and brewing techniques,” Sidor said for a press release announcing the move.

“I will always be proud of the work we’ve accomplished together, and be grateful for the support of Gary (Fish) and the leadership team for taking creative risks. While I transition to the next phase of my career, over the next several months, my heart and head will be with the Deschutes Brewery team and will remain focused on their continued success.”

With Sidor at the head of the brewing department at Deschutes, the company has added many new brands to the portfolio including Hop in the Dark, Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale, Inversion IPA, The Abyss, The Dissident, and several barrel-aged specialty beers. Sidor will continue on at Deschutes Brewery through the end of 2011.

Gary Fish, Founder and CEO of Deschutes Brewery, said, “While we are sad to see Larry go, we are excited for him being able to realize his life-long goal. His contributions to the brewery are innumerable, and he will be missed by us all. Now, we’re announcing that one of the best jobs in the industry has just become available! We are looking ahead with excitement toward the future.”