Today’s infographic is in honor of Victoria Day in Canada. It shows Craft Beers Available Year-Round from Victoria’s Micro-Breweries & Brew Pubs.
Today’s infographic is a map of the State Beer Excise Tax Rates for each of the fifty states as of January 1, 2013. It was created by the Tax Foundation as one of their weekly maps. It’s just the state excise taxes brewers must pay, and doesn’t include either federal excise taxes or any local excise taxes. Tennessee has the highest state excise taxes and Wyoming has the lowest, a fact that the anti-alcohol folks like to exploit and whine about as often as they can whenever these maps show up online, never discussing context or the total taxes each state brewer pays. Not surprisingly, since oftentimes these are also referred to as sin taxes, six out of the highest ten states are in the south, with Florida at #11 and Mississippi at #13. California’s near the middle.
This week was a fun one, in part because Tom Acitelli was in town on his book tour, promoting his new paperback The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution. He started Tuesday evening at the Anchor Brewery, where he spoke briefly, signed some books and all of us enjoyed a few beers.
The next day, Tom drove up to my house, and from there we had lunch at Russian River, and then we whisked over to the production brewery for a quick tour before doing a Bottom of the Bottle podcast at Beercraft in Rohnert Park. Then that evening Tom did an event at Lagunitas hosted by my local book store chain, Copperfield’s Books, before heading back home to Boston the following morning.
It was great fun hanging out for a longer period of time with Tom, as we’d only met briefly a couple of times before. His new book, The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution, seems very, very good. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the parts I’ve managed to find the time to read so far, and many people whose opinions I respect are all saying the same thing: that Tom has managed to write a comprehensive, thorough and enjoyable history of the craft beer since 1965. I heartily recommend his book to anyone new to the beer world, or anyone who wants to get some context to how we got to where we are today. It’s been a great journey.
Back in February, during SF Beer Week, it hit me that we needed a Session Beer Festival in the Bay Area. California is already known for big, hoppy beers but I was convinced that not everybody wants an extreme beer all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love a hop bomb IPA or an Imperial Stout as much as the next beer geek, but not every day of the week. So I started talking it up, mentioning the idea here and there. I spoke to the San Francisco Brewers Guild, called Joe Tucker from RateBeer, and brought it up with several brewers. Everybody liked the concept.
Somehow word reached John Martin and Drake’s/Triple Rock. Their wonderful marketing director, Kelsey Williams, picked up the ball and has been running with it ever since. After discussions with all of us, she’s set a juggernaut in motion. First, at least in the Bay Area, we’ve declared that May is “Session Beer Month,” and we’re calling on all breweries, bars, restaurants and beer stores to create some sort of event to create awareness of session beers. This is the first year, obviously, so we’re not expecting too much this time around, but are looking at the long haul, hoping to create momentum so that next year Session Beer Month will be huge, or at least will grow bigger each year.
To facilitate that, she’s also created a Facebook Page and Twitter account for SessionBeerMay. Check them out; “like us” and “follow us,” and most importantly, if you’re in a position to help, please consider creating a session beer event this month. If you’re not, please consider supporting the effort by drinking session beers throughout the month. If your favorite place doesn’t have any, ask them to carry at least one session beer. Although it may spark an unwinnable debate, we’re defining “session beers” as 4.5% a.b.v. or below. We accept that sometimes a 5% beer can be considered sessionable, but for our purposes — with tongue firmly in cheek — those we’ll consider “imperial session beer” or “extreme session beers.”
On the Facebook page, Kelsey’s drafted our mission statement.
Beer lovers, we are in the midst of a revolution. We have thrown off the fetters of the fizzy yellows and clamored for change. To supplant the sameness, we sought and found the EXTREME. We now have Triple IPAs and World Wide Stouts, Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperials, Belgian Quads, and all manner of High Gravity beers stuffed with fruits, spices, malts, hops. We’ve reached for the outermost precipices of beer, and succeeded.
Yet, in our noble quest for more innovation and more experimentation we have flown past many classic, well-loved, craft beer styles that may have seemed, due to their modest alcohol contents, a little too close to the weak, yellow, fizz water we’d escaped.
We have left behind these beers of import, beers perfectly suited to a long conversation at the pub, a picnic at the park, a post-hike refreshment, or a mid-summer beach trip, and beers that one can happily imbibe over the course of a few hours and leave satisfied and still standing.
We call to you beer lovers. Do not disregard a well-made, flavorful Bitter, Mild, Scottish Ale, Dry Stout, or any other Session beer because you perceive a lower alcohol content as a sign of the weak and bland. Allow us to prove that these beers are worthy of consideration. They, just like the extreme beers, have their place in our fridges and on our local taps.
We declare the month of May for Session beers. Beers that need not be analyzed, dissected, sipped, or sniffed in abundance. Delicious beers that not only enhance a good conversation but can extend it through multiple rounds.
Raise a Pint. Raise a Few. Spread the word in May; Less is most certainly more.
Amen. That’s the idea, nailed up to the electronic doors of the church of extreme beer, in the hopes of sparking a session reformation.
The next step? That’s easy: A Session Beer Festival. This year the NorCal Session Fest, will be held modestly at Drake’s Brewing in San Leandro on Saturday, May 25, 2013 from 12-4 PM. As befits session beers, the festival will benefit the East Bay Bike Coalition. Tickets to the event are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. You can buy tickets online at Brown Paper Tickets. In addition to the beer, local food trucks will be on-site with tasty food for sale. Please join us for the first beer festival celebrating session beers in the Bay Area. Let’s make this an annual event. I’ll see you there.
The inevitable approval of the merger between Anheuser-Busch InBev and Grupo Modelo moved one step closer today, according to Harry Schuhmacher’s Beer Business Daily, who writes that a “consent decree has been filed with a federal judge today seeking court approval of the ABI-Modelo-Constellation deal with the DOJ. News of the settlement agreement comes before the April 23 court deadline to report to U.S. District Court.”
Apparently, “[t]he agreement is close to the one A-B revised in February, selling the big Piedras Negras brewery to Constellation and allowing them to some time to expand that facility to brew all of US Modelo beers (and any others Constellation wants to brew there). But the agreement also includes ‘certain distribution guarantees for Constellation in the United States.’”
Constellation Brands released a statement, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Constellation Brands Announce Revised Agreement for Complete Divestiture of U.S. Business of Grupo Modelo, outlining the deal, and the transaction website, Global Beer Leader, also has a statement.
Here’s part of ABI’s press release:
Anheuser-Busch InBev and Constellation Brands Announce Revised Agreement for Complete Divestiture of U.S. Business of Grupo Modelo
AB InBev to sell Piedras Negras brewery and grant perpetual rights to Constellation for Corona and the Modelo brands in the U.S. for USD 2.9 billion
Constellation to acquire 50% of Crown it does not own for USD 1.85 billion
Terms and merits of combination between AB InBev and Grupo Modelo relating to global deal remain unchanged
AB InBev synergy projection revised to approximately USD 1 billion from USD 600 million
Anheuser-Busch InBev (Euronext: ABI) (NYSE: BUD) and Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE: STZ, STZ.B) today announced a revised agreement that establishes Crown Imports as the #3 producer and marketer of beer in the U.S. through a complete divestiture of Grupo Modelo’s (BMV: GMODELOC) U.S. business. The transaction establishes Crown as a fully owned entity of Constellation, and provides Constellation with independent brewing operations, Modelo’s full profit stream from all U.S. sales, and rights in perpetuity to the Grupo Modelo brands distributed by Crown in the U.S.
As part of AB InBev’s acquisition of the 50% of Grupo Modelo it does not already own, AB InBev has agreed to sell Compañía Cervecera de Coahuila, Grupo Modelo’s state-of-the-art brewery in Piedras Negras, Mexico, and grant perpetual brand licenses to Constellation for USD 2.9 billion, subject to a post-closing adjustment. This price is based on an assumed 2012 EBITDA of USD 310 million earned from manufacturing and licensing the Modelo brands for sale by the Crown joint venture, with an implied multiple of approximately 9 times. The sale of the brewery, which is located near the Texas border, would ensure independence of supply for Crown and provides Constellation with complete control of the production of the Modelo brands for marketing and distribution in the U.S.
AB InBev and Constellation have agreed to a three-year transition services agreement to ensure the smooth transition of the operation of the world-class brewery, which is fully self-sufficient, utilizes top-of-the-line technology and was built to be readily expanded to increase production capacity. During this 3 year timeframe, Constellation plans to invest approximately USD 400 million to expand the Piedras Negras facility, which will then enable it to supply 100% of Crown’s needs for the U.S. marketplace. Today, Piedras Negras fulfills approximately 60% of Crown’s current demand.
As previously announced on June 29, 2012, AB InBev has agreed to divest Grupo Modelo’s 50% stake in Crown, the joint venture between Modelo and Constellation, that currently imports and markets Modelo’s brands in the U.S., to Constellation. The transaction value remains USD 1.85 billion, providing Constellation 100% ownership and control of Crown.
Carlos Brito, Chief Executive Officer of AB InBev, commented, “The AB InBev and Grupo Modelo transaction has always been about Mexico and making Corona more global in all markets other than the U.S., where the brands will be owned and managed by Constellation. We are pleased to have reached this revised agreement that preserves the merits of the Grupo Modelo transaction while allowing us to move expeditiously to the Modelo integration process and the capture of approximately USD 1 billion of synergies, up from our original estimate of USD 600 million.”
Rob Sands, President and Chief Executive Officer of Constellation Brands, said, “The revised agreement with AB InBev will make Constellation’s Crown beer division a fully independent competitor and the third largest producer and marketer in the U.S. beer industry. This is a transformational acquisition for our company as we will hold perpetual rights to Corona and the Modelo brands distributed by Crown in the U.S. We will have autonomous control of production, distribution, marketing and promotion of these brands in the U.S. Bill Hackett, President of Crown, and his management team have decades of experience in the beer industry with the iconic Modelo brands. I am confident that all Constellation and Crown stakeholders, including our valued wholesalers, shareholders and employees will see the benefits of this amended agreement.”
Should be all over but the shouting at this point.
After a lengthy struggle where apparently one neighbor refused to willingly let his new neighbor build on the adjacent property in a way that was approved by nearly every governmental and environmental agency, Lagunitas owner Tony Magee’s plans for the land he owns in Tomales Bay was finally approved by the California state Coastal Commission in a 7-2 vote yesterday. The property is in the unincorporated town of Marshall in western Marin County.
According to the Marin IJ, “The project, overlooking the east shore of Tomales Bay at the northwest corner of 17990 Highway 1, includes a residence, garage, brandy distillery producing about 280 gallons a year, an equipment barn, shed, hops shelter, two sheep shelters, a greenhouse, a new well, special wastewater treatment and related improvements. Three public tours for up to eight people each will be offered for four hours on Saturdays. Brandy will be offered for sale to those on tours, but no tastings will be allowed.”
“Magee and one employee plan to cultivate hops on 6 acres and English dessert grapes on 6 acres, and graze about 35 pair of lambs and ewes on 50 acres. Other livestock would include 100 chickens.” Five years ago, almost to the day, I wrote about Lagunitas planting hops on this same bit of land, in Lagunitas Plants Hops in Tomales Bay, and this was the view at that time.
So the brandy should be interesting; micro-distilling is certainly a hot trend lately. I’m sure the hops they’ll be growing will be for Lagunitas beer, but I wonder if the 6 acres of grapes will be used for the brandy? It’s seem likely, but we’ll have to wait and see. I assume it will be a while before there’s any brandy to taste.
But I think my favorite part of this story is that in the headline, the newspaper refers to Lagunitas owner Tony Magee as a “beer baron.” Lagunitas has certainly become one of the bigger small breweries, but I’m not sure they’ve ventured into “beer baron” territory. Either way, I don’t think I’ll be able to not think of Tony as a beer baron in the future. I recently did a feature profile of Magee in the latest issue of Beer Connoisseur if you want to learn about Tony and Lagunitas. If only I’d known then that he was a beer baron.
I’ve had my share of beers made with odd ingredients, from pizza beer to Wynkoop’s bull testicle beer, with all manner of flowers, nuts, fruits, vegetables and tree parts in between. But this one has to take the cake. The Japanese brewery Sankt Gallen created a beer with elephant dung, which reportedly immediately sold out.
According to Drinks Business:
The beer, which is called Un, Kono Kuro, is made using coffee beans that have passed through an elephant.
The Sankt Gallen brewery called the beer a “chocolate stout,” despite it not containing any chocolate. The coffee beans used in the beer come from elephants at Thailand’s Golden Triangle Elephant Foundation, which cost over $100 per 35 grams. The beans are so expensive as 33 kgs of beans in the mouth yields 1 kg of useable coffee beans.
According to another source, International Science Times, the beer “utilizes the flavor of Black Ivory Coffee, a variety of your morning brew that retails for about $500 per pound because the beans are harvested from elephant poop. And by “harvested” we mean picked out of a big pile of dung and rinsed off. The elephant poop beer uses the coffee beans to enhance the flavor in its coffee stout.” They continue.
Un, Kono Kuro is a pun on “unko” which is the Japanese word for “crap,” a fitting name indeed for elephant poop coffee. Although the elephant poop beer was a sales success, don’t expect it hit shelves anytime soon. The brewer, Sankt Gallen, isn’t adding it to their regular line-up. It’s not cheap beer, either; the retail value of a keg of Un, Kono Kuro is around $1100.
So apparently it’s pretty popular. At least one reviewer said it wasn’t bad, saying “there was an initial bitterness that got washed over by a wave of sweetness. Following that, a mellow body rolled in and spread out through my mouth.” Still, this may be going too far. What do you think?
In what has to be one of the most unusual marketing efforts by a large brewer, Olympia Beer has offered to pay $1 million dollars — in increments of $25,000 a year for the next four decades — to anyone who can find conclusive evidence of a live Bigfoot. The contest is the brainchild of Evan and Daren Metropoulos, who recently bought Pabst Brewing Co., which also owns the Olympia brand.
Full details and rules can be found at OlympiaBigfoot.com, but here’s their “Mission Statement” for finding Bigfoot:
Olympia Beer and Bigfoot have been leaving footprints together in the Pacific Northwest since 1896.
We have been sharing the same backyard for over a century and we believe it’s time to do what has never been done, and that is to offer a one million dollar reward to anyone who can ensure the safe capture of Bigfoot. When we say safe capture that means Bigfoot has to be alive and breathing folks, with no wounds. That’s right you can’t use any act of violence, no guns/knives/boxing gloves/nets/etc, only sugar or sweets to lure him in.
You must register to participate in the search. To report your discovery of irrefutable evidence of the existence of Bigfoot, click on the “Submit Capture Report” link on the left and follow the instructions to report your evidence. You participation in the search is subject to the complete Official Rules.
To aid us in this adventure, Olympia Beer is partnering with The Falcon Project
The Falcon Project has been identified as “the most penetrative search for Bigfoot ever conducted in the United States.” They will conduct an aerial search for Sasquatch employing an unmanned airship with high definition thermal imaging camera equipment.
Sure, it’s a publicity stunt, but it’s a funny one. And what if someone actually does it? Apparently 14% of all Americans believe Sasquatch to be real, while another 14% say they’re not sure.
Winners must provide “irrefutable evidence” of Bigfoot’s existence and, according to the rules, may include “DNA Evidence.” From the rules:
“Bigfoot” refers to a previously undiscovered species of upright, bipedal hominid, native to North America existing contemporaneously with the Contest Period or the twenty-five (25) year period immediately prior to the Contest Period. There is no set type or amount of evidence required to establish proof for purposes of this Contest other than that all evidence presented must satisfy the Judging Panel. Evidence may include, but is not limited to DNA Evidence. DNA Evidence may include hair, blood, tissue or saliva that proves the DNA sequence of the donor shows that said donor resides in the primate evolutionary family tree, among other apes or hominids, but does not have the same genetic markers and DNA sequence as any known species. Evidence may also include “Visual Proof” of a live physical body. Physical remains may be considered as evidence provided that it can be conclusively demonstrated that the date of death pre-dated the Contest Period. Visual Proof shall not include footprints, bone fragments, inconclusive skeletal remains, or any other non-definitive evidence of the existence of Bigfoot. Any photo or video taken with photographic or video equipment is not sufficient to qualify as evidence in and of itself for consideration in the Contest, but may be considered as supporting evidence.
NO HARM SHOULD BE DONE TO BIGFOOT OR ANY LIVING CREATURE AS A RESULT OF PARTICIPATION IN THIS CONTEST. ANY EVIDENCE OF SUCH ACTIVITY SHALL LEAD TO DISQUALIFICATION FROM THE CONTEST AND NOTIFICATION TO THE PROPER LEGAL AUTHORITIES.