French brewers face massive tax hike

French president Francois Hollande is pushing for a 160% increase in beer taxes, proposing that the money be used to help fund struggling social programs as France tries to limit its budget deficit.

The tax would affect both French-brewed beers and imports. Imports account for about 30% of French beer consumption.

The measure would result in 20% higher prices in bars and supermarkets, said Jacqueline Lariven, spokeswoman for the French brewer’s federation Brasseurs de France.

”This measure will affect all brewers, including small entrepreneurs,” said Pierre-Olivier Bergeron, head of the Brewers of Europe, in a report from the Associated Press. “‘This is a very shortsighted approach by penalizing one sector.”

The Brewers of Europe, a trade group, called the measure a “kick in the teeth” and complained that beer is ”being singled out” compared to wine. Bergeron said he believes that’s because of the French government’s reluctance to raise the tax on the country’s favorite alcoholic beverage.


OSHA cites Redhook for safety violations

U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited the Craft Brew Alliance with 14 alleged safety violations as a result of its investigation into the accident in which Redhook Ale Brewery worker Ben Harris died in April.

Harris was killed when a keg exploded while he was cleaning it at the Portsmouth, N.H., brewery.

Investigators said Harris was using a compressed air line to purge liquid from the interior of a plastic keg when the keg exploded and fatally struck him. During the investigation officials determined that the explosion resulted from excess air pressure introduced into the keg from the keg cleanout line. They found the line lacked an air regulator that would have limited its air pressure to less than 60 pounds per square inch, which is the maximum air pressure limit recommended by keg manufacturers.

OSHA also found that other employees who used the cleanout line were exposed to the same hazard while cleaning out steel kegs.

OSHA recommended a penalty of $13,000 for the violations.

Investigators also discovered several other unrelated deficiencies. These resulted in $50,500 in recommended penalties for the Craft Beer Alliance.

In response to the findings, Redhook released a statement saying that the investigation into the tragedy found that Redhook and the Craft Beer Alliance did not willfully violate workplace safety standards.

The statement, released by spokesman Ted Lane, also said the citations mentioned in the report have already been addressed. “The Portsmouth brewery uses compressed air to push waste beer out of returned kegs prior to washing and filling,” according to the statement. “The brewery believes it was operating safely because it has historically washed and filled only stainless steel beer kegs without incident.”


Great American Beer Festival results

One of these years it will be physically impossible for the Great American Beer Festival to get bigger.

As it is, 2,700 different beers were served at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver and 4,338 beers from 666 breweries were assessed by 185 judges from 11 countries during the competition held in conjunction the festival.

The complete list of winners in 84 categories is here (a pdf). The breweries that were most successful in their class were:

Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Funkwerks, Funkwerks Brewing Team

Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Tröegs Brewing Company, John Trogner III

Large Brewing Company and Large Brewing Company Brewer of the Year
Pabst Brewing Company, Gregory Deuhs

Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year
Devils Backbone Brewing Company – Basecamp, Devils Backbone Brewery Team

Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year
The Church Brew Works, Steve Sloan

Brewpub Group and Brewpub Group Brewer of the Year
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company, Rob Lobreglio

Finally, a few other fun numbers . . .

– 578 breweries in the festival hall
– More than 2,700 beers served at the festival
– 49,000 attendees
– Approximately 2,800 volunteers
– Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 50.6
– Category with highest number of entries: American-Style India Pale Ale, 203


Brown Distributing, Descrecente, Tryon honored at GABF

The Brewers Association and the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) announce Saturday that Brown Distributing Company, based in West Palm Beach, Fla. has been named the 2012 Craft Beer Distributor of the Year. The Craft Beer Distributor of the Year Award, now in its sixth year, recognizes the beer distributor who does the most to market, promote and sell craft beer. NBWA and BA presented the award jointly the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

Brown Distributing Company, a family-run Florida company for more than 90 years, has evolved into a craft beer powerhouse, distributing beer from 64 craft breweries to nearly 4,000 retail accounts throughout the state. Over the past 12 months, the company has achieved a 76% increase in craft beer sales volume.

DeCrescente Distributing Company of Mechanicville, New York, was honored with the Craft Beer Distributor Achievement Award, and Tryon Distributing of Charlotte, North Carolina, received the Craft Beer Distributor Recognition Award.


Samuel Adams winners: Wheat, hops and strawberries

Boston Beer founder Jim Koch announced Friday that Connecticut homebrewer Zack Adams and James Schirmer from California won the national Samuel Adams LongShot American Homebrew Contest. They will have their beers brewed by Boston Beer and distributed along with a beer from Samuel Adams employee homebrewer Dave Anderson. LongShot six-packs will include two of each winning beer.

“America’s passion for homebrewing and craft beer is at an all time high, making this year’s competition more competitive than ever,” Koch said. “This year, even the President of The United States is homebrewing at the White House. As a homebrewer for more than 25 years, I know it’s a great hobby – but it can also be a launching pad into a career or a start-up a business. I’m proud to help these winners achieve the ultimate homebrew dream by making their beer available to drinkers across the country.”

Schirmer’s beer is an American-style wheat beer called Beerflower Wheat, while Adams’ is an Imperial American IPA brewed with seven American hop varieties and thus called Magnificent Seven. Anderson made his beer with fresh strawberries, simply naming it Strawberry Lager.


Craft breweries pump $3 billion into California economy

The California craft brewing industry generated approximately $3 billion in total impact to the state’s economy, a press release from the Craft Brewing Association revealed. Citing a 2012 study sponsored by the CCBA in conjunction with the University of California, CCBA president Steve Wagner of Stone Brewing said:

“The craft brewing industry is thriving in California, generating approximately $3 billion in total economic impact and creating 22,000 jobs in 2011 despite being on the heels of the most significant recession since the Great Depression. The California craft brewing industry is an integral part of the state’s economy – making up more than 1.5% of total economic output.

“California’s craft brewers have prospered through difficult economic times, but the industry remains dependent on the support of the state’s leadership to ensure these small and independently owned businesses have the freedom necessary to expand while adding jobs and supporting their communities.”

CCBA Executive Director Tom McCormick added:

“As the craft brewing industry continues to grow – adding more jobs and generating more tax revenue – so will its positive impact to California and the local communities that are home to our craft brewers. California’s craft brewers generated approximately $400 million in local, state and federal tax revenue in 2011 while the industry grew by 13% in production and 15% in dollars compared to 2010.”


Deschutes Red Chair ‘World’s Best’ (again)

Deschutes Breery’s Red Chair NWPA (Northwest pale ale) has won the title of “World’s Best Beer” in the World Beer Awards competition, an honor the beer also won in 2010.

Red Chair emerged from four rounds of judging, all of them based on blind tasting. The competition begins with judging in three regions — Asia, Europe, and the Americas — with the winners advancing to more judging in England. There the “World’s Best Beers” are chosen according to style, and one single winner eventually emerges. This year, the competition also included an award for best label, which went to Le Trou Du Diable, Schieve Tabarnak.


World’s Best Dark Beer
Het Anker, Gouden Carolus Classic

World’s Best Flavoured Beer
TSA Co., Double Espresso

World’s Best Lager
Waldhaus, Spezial Gold

World’s Best Pale Beer
Deschutes, Red Chair NWPA

World’s Best Speciality Beer
Fujizakura, Rauch

The complete results, including best in each category and all the winners in the regional rounds.