Friday, March 25, 2011

Haters Gonna Hate

There are haters everywhere.  Haters hatin’ on bands.  Haters hatin’ on movies.  Haters hatin’ on food, restaurants, public figures and yes—even beer. 
For as fun and beautiful a thing beer is, it’s too bad we have so many haters out there. 
I’m not talking about someone that says, “I tried the new so and so from blablabla and I wasn’t very impressed”.  That is a very normal thing because the word beer encompasses a large body.  Beer is so varied, has so many styles and flavors that by its very definition most people out there will find something that doesn’t agree with them. 
What I am talking about is bloggers, beer nerds, writers, brewers and the like bashing on beers.  “Beer X is terrible, that brewery sucks”. 
Beer is an ancient art, it is so much bigger than us—it’s an orchestra of microorganisms and it demands respect.  Further, a beer that is on a shelf represents somebody out there doing something.  Most people don’t do anything, they never create anything.  Creating something, putting it on a store shelf leaves you vulnerable, it’s a statement for the world to see and respond to.  Maybe that response will be positive, but there are so many haters that it will almost always be negative.  Shipping takes guts, hatin’ doesn’t take anything but minutes off your life.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Beer Existentialism

Jasperilla 2010

I had this served in a small tasting glass straight from the fermenter.  Naturally the carbonation is a little light.  The oak is very present in the beer but not invasive.  There are very subtle caramel, toffee and vanilla aromas on the nose.  The caramel and toffee follow on the palate though I don't get too much vanilla. I am really excited about this beer, though not looking forward to hand bottling this week.  This beer has gotten better every year and is very limited. If you see it, grab it!

Human Condition

Sartre says that we were thrust into this world and bear the weight of our choices and that is the ultimate dilemma of man, or the human condition.  I have to admit that I agree with Sartre on this one.  We walk through life and have to make decisions every day and though we may not know exactly how things will play out we are responsible for the fallout.  It’s not all gloom and doom though, we are also responsible for the glory.  But what’s not glorious is the beer landscape we have created for ourselves. 
Sadly we mostly drink shit(Big Beer).  Maybe that is a bit harsh but if you look at it through the lens of history and tradition it is tough to disagree.  ‘American Lager’ utilizes a basterdized process, low quality ingredients and a focus on volume whilst quality is sacrificial. 
Friedrich Nietzsche asks us, would you want it again?

“What if a demon were to creep after you one night, in your loneliest loneliness, and say, 'This life which you live must be lived by you once again and innumerable times more; and every pain and joy and thought and sigh must come again to you, all in the same sequence. The eternal hourglass will again and again be turned and you with it, dust of the dust!' Would you throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse that demon? Or would you answer, 'Never have I heard anything more divine'?”

It’s easy to see the gloom in Existential literature, but I really see it as a call to action.  If you had to live this life again, what would you pour in your glass?  Would you continue to short yourself on sensory experience?  Or would pour something that you are going to enjoy, something different and unique?  Would you continue to send your dollars to oversea conglomerates?  Or would you instead send them to your neighbor? 
It’s easy to associate the human condition with anguish or anxiety, so much choice and so much responsibility.  It is equally as easy to drink good beer responsibly.  

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hoppy Valentine’s Day

A Brief History

Dandelion, Burdock Root, Ivy and Heather.  Could you imagine these in your beer?  Before the discovery of hops, these were all used as a bittering agent.  As early as 1079 Germans documented the use of hops in beer and found it to be delightfully bitter.  Not only was the beer delicious, but it was found to last longer as Hops are a natural preservative.  Further, Hops contribute to a nice dense head as with the famous German Pilsners that are fabled to hold up the weight of a coin. 

Current Trend

It is hard to imagine a US beer scene without hops as they have run wild through many breweries.  The trend seems to be the more hops the better for many beer drinkers.  Dogfish head uses a device to continually add hops through the brewing process.  Pliny the Elder is a big IPA that makes generous use of fresh hop cones.  Stone has made a brewery name with its big often heavily hopped brews. 
So is it a fad, or are hops here to stay?

Hop fans or Hopheads will tell you that they wouldn’t have it any way.  Heavily hopped beers tend to gravitate towards the IPA style for the most part though and with all things American I believe our strength is in innovation.  Hoppy beers are here to stay I believe but we simply won’t have the plethora of clones running amuck in a few years.  That being said, I think it’s about time to pop the top on this Leviathan double IPA. 


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Untimely response

It has been awhile since Scott Metzger responded to some points I had raised about HB 660.  I would like to take a second to respond.  First though, Scott had pointed out that I work for Independence Brewing Co. and I even list it on my profile for purposes of full disclosure.  But I would like to point out that these thoughts (and this blog) are my thoughts and for no end other than mine.  
The first item I would like to tackle is the effective date.  Scott mentions that all bills contain the provision outlined in Section 39 Article III so that this bill must become effective in September of this year or wait until September of 2013.  That is simply not true.  An effective date can be specified, the bill could be triggered into law by an event it could be contingent on a proposed constitutional amendment etc.  This is not a now or 2013 scenario. 
I had also raised alarm on the exclusiveness of the bill, particularly to Shiner, Miller, AB and hopefully in the near future Real Ale and Saint Arnold’s.  Scott’s reply essentially stated that his bill pertained to Brewpubs and that it included more breweries as opposed to excluding.  His argument is misguiding for two reasons.  The first is a definitional dilemma and the second pertains to duty.
Scott claims his bill is for Brew pubs and that it just happens to help more than the intended scope.  The problem is that Scott is talking about two different types of brew pubs.  HB660 essentially is changing the definitional parameters of a brew pub entity.  So to say “I wouldn’t work to initiate bills that affect business types that I’m not involved in.” is a bit of a misnomer as by changing the definition and controlling the parameters you do exactly that.  Now it may be the case that Mr. Metzger doesn’t believe he has a since of duty to the other industries and I will grant him that—but that doesn’t matter either.
The only duty any law maker has is to the public.  Business is a very important part of this state and it is also important to maintain and improve the laws in such ways that commerce has greater avenues afforded.  In the case of beer legislation, the best way to do that is to ensure that those whom wish to consume beer responsibly can do so easily and through many channels.   Exclusion of pertinent parties should be for good cause, for the good of the beer consuming public.  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

HB 660

I support any legislation that advances the craft beer movement in equal opportunistic fashion.  I will also say out front that I support HB 660.  There are some issues that need to be addressed. 

Maximum production

As written 660 imposes a 75,000 bbl limit on production under a brewpub permit, excluding Shiner, Miller and Bud facilities(It’s worth noting Saint Arnold is around the halfway point of this mark). Why? If this bill is supposed to be an economic home run, why not make it a grand slam?  Why limit the size of a brewery that can obtain this new license?  Give Shiner, Miller and Bud a chance to tango as well, while allowing Saint Arnold to dip more than just a foot in. 
The problem with a limit is that almost regardless of the limit imposed it is going to suffer from being both too big and too small.  If it isn’t big enough, it’s just going to rub established breweries and brewpubs the wrong way.  If it isn’t small enough people will bitch and moan about X fold growth to potential brewpubs output without benefit to others. 


HB 660 will deeply affect Texas breweries and brewpubs alike.  Breweries will be faced with big decisions as to how much of the newly enacted law they want to take on.
 It’s not as simple as deciding, “ok we are open, pull up chair next to that bottling machine, here is your burger and beer, that’ll be 10 bucks. “  Point of Sales systems have to be implemented.  Buildings assessed.  Permits, tables, chairs, employees, loans, taxes, insurance……
It’s not just for breweries either.  Likewise brewpubs will need time to consider things like expansion opportunities, vehicle purchase, employees and learning the ins and outs of the retail system including delivering, invoicing, standing in the yellow lines and oh yes (welcome to hell) merchandising. 
September 1st is too early.  But waiting for another fiscal year is too long of a delay in my opinion.  Waiting ‘til December gives everyone more time to decide, act and file and will make a hell of a Christmas present. 
Don’t invite someone to a swimming party and then start playing basketball.  Or at least give them time to change lest some speedo may slap your face when I’m slammin’. 

HB 660 would be a game changer.  It would help Texas craft beer in a multitude of ways.  It is great for the consumer.  It will increase awareness of Texas beer in general. But don’t put a bill out that cracks the valve.  We aren’t gearing up for a freeze.  Open the damn thing up and let it rain like El Nino.  Comprende?  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Amend not abolish

If you read my last post on the 3-tier system you might think I want to rage against it all and tear down the whole system.  The truth is, by slightly modifying small portions of the TABC code we can make giant progress towards opening up healthy competition, generating additional tax revenue and providing better consistency in the law.

What should be added

Chapter 16 Winery Permit of the TABC permit, section 16.01 Authorized Activities:
5)     sell wine to ultimate consumers:
(A)  for consumption on the winery premises; or
(B) in unbroken packages for off-premises consumption in an amount
not to exceed 35,000 gallons annually

Add a similar section in the brewer’s permit. 

What should be changed

Sales of alcohol in general need not be restricted differently on any day of the week.  I understand that Sunday is special day for many people for many different reasons.  But we live in a much different society than we did when these restrictions were put into place.  We are a 24/7 world workforce now.  We have superstores, fast food, convenient stores and donut stands that never close.  Is it too much to ask for consistent alcohol sales hours?

The distinction between beer and ale need to be addressed.  Texas defines   beer as below 5% alcohol by volume (ABV).  Any thing above 5% is considered ale.  The problem with this law is that it makes Texan brewers look like a group of morons.  The definition of ale has nothing to do with ABV and everything to do with yeast selection. 

Enough is enough

Many may think that the later two points (Sunday sales, beer/ale distinction) are nitty.  But laws that don’t make since call in to question the entire body of laws and that is generally not desirable.   Limited brewery beer sales are healthy for brewers, wholesalers and retailers through increased exposure.  Opening up sales hours will prevent lost sales opportunities, which is better for the brewers, wholesalers and retailers.  Addressing the beer/ale distinction increases the sophistication of the Texas beer culture which is beneficial for, you guessed it, YOU.  Stay classy Texas

Saturday, January 15, 2011

More legislative articles

Here are a few more articles on what is going on:

Crocker Blog

Austin Chronicle

I love Beer