Craft Beer Continues To Grow

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Craft brewers enjoyed continued growth through the first half of 2014, according to new mid-year data recently released by the Brewers Association, the trade group representing smaller brewers. Craft beer production increased 18 percent by volume during the first half of the year (though the new numbers are based on the revised definition of who is a craft brewer as per the BA, while last year’s numbers were compiled under the old definition). From the press release:

From January through the end of June, around 10.6 million barrels of beer were sold, up from 9.0 million barrels over the first half of 2013. “The sustained double-digit growth of the craft category shows the solidity of demand for fuller flavored beer in a variety of styles from small and independent American producers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist for the BA. “Craft brewers are providing world-class, innovative products that continue to excite beer lovers and energize the industry.”

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As of June 30, 2014, 3,040 breweries were operating in the U.S., 99 percent of which were small and independent craft breweries. Additionally, there were 1,929 breweries in planning. Craft brewers currently employ an estimated 110,273 full-time and part-time workers, many of which are manufacturing jobs, contributing significantly to the U.S. economy.

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Hops & History 2

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Last year, the San Francisco Brewers Guild put together a fun event at the Old Mint with Flipside and the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society called Hops & History, in which I was the moderator of a panel discussion about opening and running a brewery in the city of San Francisco, and also helped with a breweriana display of brewery artifacts from San Francisco and California. I thought it was a great event, and it looks like I wasn’t the only one. Apparently, it was “one of the most popular events hosted by FlipSide for the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society last year.” That’s according to an Op-Ed on the Digital Journal, Hops History event displays that San Francisco is a beer town.

As a result of last year’s success, they’ve decided to another beer event at the Mint this year. The Hops & History 2 event takes place next Thursday, July 24, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at The Old Mint, located at 88 Fifth Street at Mission in San Francisco. Tickets to the event are $30.

Here’s more information about the event, from the San Francisco Brewers Guild website:

Its time to order another round. This 2nd annual event will feature Bay Area craft beer tasting, historical talks, a panel discussion, home brewing demos, local food vendors, and an expanded exhibit of rarely seen historical West Coast brewing memorabilia. Held in the historic 1874 San Francisco Mint, Hops and History Round 2 continues last year’s sold-out celebration of the unique history of brewing in the Bay Area while looking forward to the future of craft brewing in the City by the Bay and beyond.

Don’t get left out in the cold! Get your tickets early to join us to taste the past and enjoy the present of Bay Area craft brewing.

Event Info

Tastings from all breweries included

  • Presentations on brewing history
  • Home brewing demos by San Francisco Brewcraft
  • Exhibit of historic “breweriana” from the private Collection of Ken Harootunian
  • Bavarian pretzels from Bavarian Brez’n, and other local food for purchase
  • Docent led tours of the historic 1874 Old Mint
  • Souvenir sampling mug included
  • Music by DJ Timestretch

Program Info

  • Dave Burkhart and Jim Stitt: Handmade Labels for Handmade Beers
  • John Freeman: Shock Waves of the San Francisco Beer-Quake
  • Taryn Edwards: Lager, Ale, Porter, and Steam: “Healthful fermented liquors” at the Mechanics’ Institute’s Industrial Expostions 1857–1899
  • Panel discussion with SF Brewers Guild brewers from Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery, Triple Voodoo Brewery and Tap Room, and Cellarmaker Brewing Co.: moderated by Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Bulletin

Apparently tickets are selling briskly, so order your tickets quickly if you’re hoping to join us for another great evening of brewing history. There’s also more info at Flipside’s Facebook page. See you there.

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World’s Wealthiest Booze Barons

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Forbes recently released their annual list of the wealthiest people in the world. Thirteen people on the Full List Of The World’s 500 Richest People are involved in the alcohol industry, at least in part. Of those 13, ten are involved in beer companies.

The World’s Richest Booze Barons

  1. Bernard Arnault & family, LVMH (France)
    Founded 2008; The French luxury brands conglomerate LVMH owns a bewildering array of high-ends brands such as Bulgari, Dior, Louis Vuitton, TAGHeuer, but their wine and spirits division includes such brands as Belvedere Vodka, Dom Perignon, Glenmorangie, Moët & Chandon, Hennessy, Veuve Clicquot, and several others
    Forbes Richest List: #15; $33.5 billion
  2. Jorge Paulo Lemann, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and also co-founded the Brazilian investment banking firm Banco Garantia, which today is known as Banco de Investimentos Credit Suisse (Brazil)
    Founded 2008; Along with Carlos Alberto Sicupira and Marcel Herrmann Telles, formed ABI, which was created out of a merger of Anheuser-Busch and InBev (which itself was a merger of InterBrew and AmBev from 2004, and each of those companies were the results of previous mergers, as well). Just a few of their numerous beer brands include, Beck’s, Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois
    Forbes Richest List: #34; $19.7 billion
  3. Alejandro Santo Domingo Davila & family, SABMiller (Colombia)
    Founded 1864; Alejandro Santo Domingo, a Colombian-American financier, owns a 15% stake in SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer responsible for brands such as Fosters, Grolsch, Miller, Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Pilsner Urquell
    Forbes Richest List: #102; $11.1 billion
  4. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, Heineken International (The Netherlands)
    Founded 1864; Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken is the daughter of Freddy Heineken, the Dutch industrialist, and Lucille Cummins, an American from a Kentucky family of Bourbon whiskey distillers, and is the controlling owner of the world’s third-largest brewer, Heineken International, which owns a worldwide portfolio of over 170 beer brands in addition to Heineken
    Forbes Richest List: #116; $10.4 billion
  5. Marcel Herrmann Telles, Anheuser-Busch InBev, along with retailer Lojas Americanas and real estate investment firm São Carlos Empreendimentos e Participações SA (Brazil)
    Founded 2008; Along with Carlos Alberto Sicupira and Jorge Paulo Lemann, formed ABI, which was created out of a merger of Anheuser-Busch and InBev (which itself was a merger of InterBrew and AmBev from 2004, and each of those companies were the results of previous mergers, as well). Just a few of their numerous beer brands include, Beck’s, Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois
    Forbes Richest List: #119; $10.2 billion
  6. Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, Real Estate Tycoon and owner of ThaiBev, (Thailand)
    Founded 1991; Sirivadhanabhakdi is a drinks entrepreneur who created Chang Beer, teaming up with Carlsberg in 1991 as part of a joint venture to tap into Thailand’s growing beer market, which at the time was dominated by the Boon Rawd Brewery, which brewed Singha beer. Three years later he launched his own beer Chang (Thai for ‘elephant’), which went on to take 60% of the local market share.
    Forbes Richest List: #141; $9 billion
  7. Carlos Alberto Sicupira, Anheuser-Busch InBev (Brazil)
    Founded 2008; Along with Marcel Herrmann Telles and Jorge Paulo Lemann, formed ABI, which was created out of a merger of Anheuser-Busch and InBev (which itself was a merger of InterBrew and AmBev from 2004, and each of those companies were the results of previous mergers, as well). Just a few of their numerous beer brands include, Beck’s, Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois
    Forbes Richest List: #146; $8.9 billion
  8. Pierre Castel & family, Groupe Castel (France)
    Founded 1949; The French drinks company which Pierre founded with his his eight siblings owns or co-owns 22 French vineyards, plus 1,600 acres of vineyards in Africa, primarily in Morocco, Tunisia and Ethiopia. In 1990, they bought the African Brasseries et Glacières Internationales and has since built 45 breweries in Africa, where they now have 25% of the market there, with their two biggest beer brands, Flag and Castel
    Forbes Richest List: #166; $8 billion
  9. Maria Asuncion Aramburuzabala & family, Tresalia Capital / Grupo Modelo (Mexico)
    Founded 1925; Grupo Modelo is the largest brewery in Mexico, with 63% of the Mexican beer market, and brews Corona, Modelo, Negra Modelo, Pacífico, Victoria, and others
    Forbes Richest List: #270; $5.2 billion
  10. Walter Faria, Grupo Petropolis (Brazil)
    Founded 1994; Beer and Soft drinks company whose beer brands include Itaipava, Crystal, Lokal, Black Princess, Petra and others
    Forbes Richest List: #396; $3.8 billion
  11. Rosa Anna Magno Garavoglia & family, Gruppo Campari (Italy)
    Founded 1860; Brands include Campari, Cinzano, SKYY vodka, Wild Turkey and two dozen more liquors
    Forbes Richest List: Tie #446; $3.5 billion
  12. Lorenzo Mendoza & family, Empresas Polar (Venezuela)
    Founded 1941; Conglomerate of 40 different companies with a vast portfolio of food and drinks, including Polar Beer
    Forbes Richest List: Tie #446; $3.5 billion
  13. Jean Pierre Cayard, La Martiniquaise (France)
    Founded 1936; La Martinique Rum, Porto Cruz and Poliakov Vodka
    Forbes Richest List: #483; $3.3 billion

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In addition, Forbes also created a list of America’s Richest Families, of which eight of the 179 listed are engaged in the alcohol trade, or at least made their fortunes in alcohol.

America’s Richest Booze Families

  1. Busch Family, Anheuser-Busch
    Founded: 1876; Although they recently lost control of their beer empire, the 30 or so members of the Busch family are still worth a cool 13 billion, enough to even buy some more expensive beer with flavor.
    Forbes Families List: #17; $13 billion
  2. Brown Family, Brown-Forman
    Founded 1870; The 25 members of the Brown family of Kentucky control a wine and spirits giant that includes such brands as Early Times, Finlandia vodka, Jack Daniels, Korbel, Southern Comfort and many others.
    Forbes Families List: #20; $13 billion
  3. Gallo Family, E&J Gallo Winery
    Founded 1933; Brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo started their wine business in a shed in Modesto, California. Today there are around 14 family members still running the show, which is the largest U.S. wine company, accounting for one-quarter of all American wine. They also produce brandy, cider, gin, vodka, and wine coolers, along with numerous wine labels.
    Forbes Families List: #25; $9.7 billion
  4. Reyes Family, Reyes Holdings, including beer distributors Reyes Beverage Group
    Founded 1976; Christopher and M. Jude Reyes are co-chairs of the company. David “Duke” Reyes is the CEO of Reyes Beverage Group, the largest beer distributor in the U.S., while brothers James and Tom are executives at Reyes Beverage Group and brother William is a director of Reyes Holdings.
    Forbes Families List: #29; $8 billion
  5. Wirtz Family, Wirtz Beverage Group
    Founded 1926; Although they started out in real estate, they made their fortune selling alcohol beginning in 1945, and they’ve also owned the Chicago Blackhawks since 1954
    Forbes Families List: #64; $4.2 billion
  6. Coors Family, Coors Brewing
    Founded 1873; Adolph Coors founded the brewery in Golden, Colorado, and today the Coors family owns over 15% of MolsonCoors. Until 2002, Adolph’s great-grandson Peter Coors was CEO of Coors, but today is the chairman of MillerCoors.
    Forbes Families List: Tie #81; $2.9 billion
  7. John Anderson Family, Topa Equities, Ltd, which includes L.A. Bud distributor Ace Beverage Co.
    Founded 1956; The son of a barber who attended UCLA on a hockey scholarship, Anderson launched Ace Beverage in 1956 with exclusive rights to deliver Budweiser in Los Angeles. Topa Equities still has interests in beer distribution, plus real estate, insurance, and car dealerships.
    Forbes Families List: Tie #94; $2.5 billion
  8. Jackson Family, Jackson Family Wines
    Founded 1956; Jess Stonestreet Jackson and wife Barbara Banke, both lawyers, co-founded Jackson Family Wines in California in the 1980s, perhaps best know for their Kendall Jackson wines. After Jackson died of cancer at age 81 in 2011, Banke became chairman and proprietor. All five of Jackson’s children also hold interests in the company and are active in running it. Don Hartford, husband of daughter Jenny Jackson-Hartford, is CEO. The family owns 35 vineyards, including nearly 30,000 acres in California, that sell more than 6 million cases of wine a year. The flagship winery is Kendall Jackson in Sonoma County.
    Forbes Families List: Tie #100; $2.3 billion

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And finally, on the list of the Forbes 400, the Richest People in America, a couple of family members from the previous family list also made it onto this list with their personal wealth.

America’s Richest Booze Barons

  • 134. J. Christopher Reyes, Reyes Holdings; $3.7 billion; World Rank: 450
  • 134. Jude Reyes, Reyes Holdings; $3.7 billion; World Rank: 450
  • 371. Richard Yuengling, Jr., Yuengling Brewery; $1.4 billion; World Rank: 1156

The cut-off this year for the Forbes 400 was around $1.3 billion. If you’re worth less than that, you don’t quite make the list, but Forbes also created a small list of people they think are the Ones to Watch.

  • 401. Jim Koch, Boston Beer Co.; $1 billion; World Rank: Unknown

Koch was the richest person on the “Ones to Watch” list, so with a little luck he’ll join Dick Yuengling in the Billionaire Beer Boys Club next year.

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Another Milestone: 3,000 Breweries In America

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I know that many people seem tired of celebrating numerical achievements, preferring to concentrate on the beer itself, or the quality of beers, etc., but I think there is something to be said for the continuing rise of the sheer number of breweries in America. It is, I believe, indicative of greater consumer acceptance and a desire for beer drinkers to want to support local producers. It’s true that the growth of the regional, larger breweries are fueling a lot of the marketshare, but with many of the new small breweries catering to a very local customer base, this growth phase we’re in shouldn’t slow down for a least a little while longer.

Yesterday, the Brewers Association announced that the number of breweries in the United States eclipsed 3,000, as of June 2014 stood at 3,040. Here’s more from the BA’s press release:

The American brewing industry reached another milestone at the end of June, with more than 3,000 breweries operating for all or part of the month (3,040 to be precise). Although precise numbers from the 19th century are difficult to confirm, this is likely the first time the United States has crossed the 3,000 brewery barrier since the 1870s. Wieren (1995) notes that the Internal Revenue Department counted 2,830 “ale and lager breweries in operation” in 1880, down from a high point of 4,131 in 1873.

What does 3,000 breweries mean? For one, it represents a return to the localization of beer production, with almost 99% of the 3,040 breweries being small and independent. The majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a local brewery, and with almost 2,000 planning breweries in the BA database, that percentage is only going to climb in the coming years.

Secondly, it means that competition continues to increase, and that brewers will need to further differentiate and focus on quality if they are going to succeed in a crowded marketplace. While a national brewery number is fairly irrelevant without understanding local marketplaces, 3,040 breweries could not happen without increased competition in many localities.

What it does not mean is that we’ve reached a saturation point. Most of the new entrants continue to be small and local, operating in neighborhoods or towns. What it means to be a brewery is shifting, back toward an era when breweries were largely local, and operated as a neighborhood bar or restaurant. How many neighborhoods in the country could still stand to gain from a high-quality brewpub or micro taproom? While a return to the per capita ratio of 1873 seems unlikely (that would mean more than 30,000 breweries), the resurgence of American brewing is far from over.

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Good Hop Grand Opening This Saturday

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I’m thrilled to announce that Melissa Myers’ new beer bar in Oakland, The Good Hop, will have its grand opening this Saturday, July 12, with the doors opening at the mercifully not-to-early time of 3:00 PM. The Good Hop is located at 2421 Telegraph Avenue in West Oakland, near the intersection of 24th Street, just around the corner from the New Parkway Theater. I won’t even try to be impartial here, Melissa Myers is a longtime friend of mine, and I’m excited for her to finally realize a dream of opening her own place. She’s been a brewer for many years, from Denver to Philadelphia and in the Bay Area brewed at Magnolia, Pyramid and the old Ross Brewery (which is now Iron Springs) but now turns her attention to choosing and serving great beer. Eventually, The Good Hop may serve Melissa’s own beer (fingers crossed), but for now they’ll be featuring a nicely curated tap list of 16 taps, with 2 dedicated sour beer lines, plus 450+ bottled beers. At the grand opening, they plan to have a number of rare and hard-to-find beers available, as well as some special surprises.

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Here’s more information, from the press release:

The Good Hop Bottle Shop and Tasting Room (TGH) is pleased to announce it is opening its doors to the public on July 12, 2014. The 1,900-square-foot shop, at 2421 Telegraph Avenue Suite 102, is a specialty beer bottle shop and tasting room offering 450+ bottled and canned beers that can be purchased for take-away or can be opened and consumed on site in the spacious and comfortable bar. Their ever-rotating 16 taps will serve up California and West Coast craft beers with 2 designated sour beer lines at all times.

TGH will have an enormous beer selection in bottles, cans, and on tap that would please any aficionado; though, Melissa Myers, The Good Hop’s owner and proprietor, wants to draw in the less familiar to beer client as well. “I love beer and I love making people fall in love with beer. Part of my mission in opening this shop is to serve the customer who walks in and says ‘Well, I don’t know that much about beer, so I’m not sure what I should order…’ That’s where it gets fun for us. I love asking them questions and, based on their answers, figuring what they’ll fall in love with!”

TGH will host a number of events for both beginners and experts alike. The shop will host beer style tastings, vertical brewery tastings, meet-the-brewer nights, cheese-and-beer pairing events, chocolate-and-beer pairing events, and a number of other activities that feature beer as the centerpiece. The TGH website, www.thegoodhop.com, will have a calendar of events posted. Its twitter feed will have daily listings of what 16 beers are on tap for the day. TGH’s Facebook page contains additional information.

Myers is excited about the neighborhood: “We chose this spot because it’s right in the heart of what’s happening in Oakland right now,” says Myers. “We love the KONO [Koreatown-Northgate] neighborhood and we’re thrilled to be part of Art Murmur, First Fridays, and the vibrancy of this area. So much is happening here right now, and we’re really excited to be in the middle of it.”

The regular hours of the Good Hop will be from 3-10 PM Wednesday through Monday of each week, closed only on Tuesdays. Bar snacks are currently available while the local menu is being finalized, and then they’ll be serving heartier fare along with the snacks. They’ll be working with “Off the Grid and other pop-up food vendors to offer a variety of beer-friendly food. Food trucks are also being lined up to serve up beer-friendly bites.”

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Beer In Space: Ninkasi’s Space Program

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Space … the Final Frontier … for Beer. These are the voyages of the Starship Ninkasi. Its 8-year old mission: to brew strange new beers, to seek out new life and new civilizations to drink beer, to boldly brew where no man has brewed before.
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Alright, it’s possible I’ve exaggerated a little, but Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, Oregon announced their new Ninkasi Space Program, a collaboration with CSXT (Civilian Space eXploration Team), “a team of around 30 civilians interested in private spaceflight.” As a longtime space geek, it’s a pretty cool idea.

Mission One

NSP’s first task is to test the viability of yeast in space. This volatile organism, the living ingredient from which beer is born, requires precise conditions to thrive. Will 16 strains of brewer’s yeast survive Mission One, in which they are jettisoned outside Earth’s atmosphere on a rocket? Once we know, NSP will be one step closer to the ultimate brewery…in space.

Mission one will be launched later this month, around thirteen days from today, according to the countdown clock on the NSP website.

More from the press release:

“NSP is a very serendipitous project,” explains Nikos Ridge, CEO and co-founder of Ninkasi. “I don’t think you could have planned a more perfect pairing of beer and space geekery.”

Introduced through a mutual friend, Ridge met with Bruce Lee, of CSXT, at an amateur rocket launch competition in 2013 where the idea first came about.

“As a result of meeting Nikos, CSXT is pleased to include Ninkasi as a team member for the launch,” says Bruce Lee, principle and range safety officer for CSXT. “Launching brewer’s yeast into space will be an interesting experiment – something we’ve never done before.”

With almost a year of planning, NSP will finally get off the ground this month. Ninkasi’s lab technician, Dana Garves, and RapidMade, a Portland, Ore. company specializing in 3D printing, worked hand-in-hand to design and create a payload container built specifically to safely carry the 16 yeast strains into space and back to Earth for brewing—the first to do so.

“I couldn’t contain my excitement when I first heard of NSP,” says Garves. “We spent hours researching, developing and testing what we think will ensure that the yeast travels safely and returns to us healthy enough to brew with.”

After the launch, CSXT will retrieve the payload and immediately hand off the yeast samples to Garves who will analyze the yeast on-site with a microscope used in conjunction with her smartphone.

“Since we’ll be off-the-grid for the launch, I had to figure out a way to examine the samples remotely,” explains Garves. On-site, Garves will be testing for the viability of the yeast, analyzing the number of dead and live yeast cells.

If successful, the NSP team will return to the brewery with healthy yeast, ready to make its way into a very special beer for craft beer and space aficionados alike.

“Obviously, the fact that we’ve never launched yeast into space presents many challenges in itself even with months of planning,” says Ridge. “While we have confidence in our partners and the process, this is uncharted territory on several fronts and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds on launch day.”

Homebrewers Pick The Best Beers In America 2014

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For the 12th straight year, the readers of Zymurgy magazine were asked to send in a list of their 20 favorite commercially available beers. With a record number of votes in the poll’s twelfth year, over 1,600 different breweries were represented in the voting. The results were not exactly shocking, and most of the beers and breweries that got the most votes were what you’d expect, I think, but it’s an interesting list all the same. The results are, as usual, printed in the latest issue, July 2014.
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Top Rated Beers
KEY: T indicates tie / (#) indicates rank last year / No # indicates same rank as last year

Four of the top ten are California beers (there were seven last year), with 24 making the list. This is the sixth year in a row AHA members chose Pliny the Elder as the top beer. This also the fifth consecutive year that Bell’s Two Hearted Ale came in second.

1. Russian River Pliny the Elder
2. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
3. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (5)
4. Bell’s Hopslam
5. The Alchemist Heady Topper (16)
6. Lagunitas Sucks (9)
7. Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (3)
8. Stone Enjoy By IPA (12)
9. Founders Breakfast Stout (6)
10. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (25)
11. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (17)
12. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (15)
13. Firestone Walker Wookey Jack (20)
14. Three Floyds Zombie Dust (21)
T15. Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (23)
T15. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (9)
17. Firestone Walker Double Jack
T18. Firestone Walker Union Jack (23)
T18. Arrogant Bastard Ale (7)
20. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA (12)
21. Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA (8)
22. Russian River Blind Pig I.P.A. (42)
T23. Deschutes Black Butte Porter (27)
T23. North Coast Old Rasputin (12)
25. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale (32)
26. Stone Ruination IPA (9)
27. Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (not on last year’s list)
28. Russian River Pliny the Younger (39)
29. Left Hand Milk Stout (39)
30. Russian River Supplication (32)
31. Green Flash West Coast IPA (27)
32. Surly Furious (26)
33. New Belgium La Folie (32)
T34. Founders All Day IPA (not on last year’s list)
T34. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (30)
36. Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale (19)
37. Stone IPA
38. Lagunitas IPA (36)
T39. Russian River Consecration (31)
T39. Troegs Nugget Nectar (27)
41. Deschutes the Abyss (48)
42. Cigar City Jai Alai IPA (not on last year’s list)
43. Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA (21)
44. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy (not on last year’s list)
45. Surly Abrasive IPA (not on last year’s list)
46. New Belgium Ranger IPA (not on last year’s list)
T47. Ommegang Three Philosophers (48)
T47. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (39)
T49. Founders Backwoods Bastard (not on last year’s list)
T49. Odell IPA (38)

Brewery Rankings

Brewery rankings are based on total votes received by each brewery’s beers. This year’s top brewery is Russian River Brewing Co., in Santa Rosa, Calif. Russian River placed five beers in the top 50, including both its Plinys. Bell’s Brewery finished second, while last year’s winner, Stone Brewing Co., came in third this year. Seven California breweries made the list, with six from Colorado, and two from Michigan. Again, (#) indicates their rank last year.

1. Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, Calif. (2)
2. Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo, Mich. (5)
3. Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, Calif. (1)
4. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Del.
5. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, Calif. (3)
6. Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich. (6)
7. Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, Calif. (6)
8. Lagunitas Brewing Co., Petaluma, Calif.
9. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Ore. (10)
10. New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, Colo. (9)
11. Three Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, Ind. (12)
12. Goose Island Beer Co., Chicago, Ill. (18)
13. Ballast Point Brewing Co., San Diego, Calif. (not on last year’s list)
14. Odell Brewing Co., Fort Collins, Colo. (11)
15. The Boston Beer Co., Boston, Mass. (16)
16. Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, Mo. (17)
17. Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, Colo. (14)
18. New Glarus Brewing Co., New Glarus, Wis. (19)
19. Victory Brewing Co., Downington, Pa. (24)
20. Avery Brewing Co., Boulder, Colo. (13)
21. Surly Brewing Co., Minneapolis, Minn. (not on last year’s list)
22. Great Divide Brewing Co., Denver, Colo. (20)
23. Great Lakes Brewing Co., Cleveland, Ohio
24. The Bruery, Placentia, Calif. (not on last year’s list)
25. Left Hand Brewing Co., Longmont, Colo. (not on last year’s list)

Best Portfolio

They also determined which breweries got the most votes for different beers that they produce, and called that list “best portfolio.” The number following their name is how many of their beers got at least one vote. [#] indicates their rank last year.

1. New Belgium Brewing (60 beers) [7]
2. The Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) (53 beers) [1]
3. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (49 beers) [5]
4. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (48 beers) [2]
5. Stone Brewing Co. (46 beers) [8]
T6. Bell’s Brewery (41 beers) [6]
T6. Short’s Brewing Co. (41 beers) [not on last year’s list]
8. Deschutes Brewery (40 beers) [10]
9. The Bruery (38 beers) [11]
T10. Avery Brewing Company (37 beers) [3]
T10. Boulevard Brewing Company (37 beers) [9]
T10. Goose Island Beer Company (26 beers) [8]

Top Imports

With a lot of ties, a few imports also received votes as readers’ favorite beers. As in years past, there was a decidedly all-American bent to the voting. Of the top 50 beers in the poll, none were produced by a foreign brewery, although Unibroue’s La Fin du Monde claimed the number one spot among imports. Again, [#] indicates their rank last year.

T1. Unibroue La Fin du Monde (Canada) [4]
T1. Guinness Draught (Ireland) [3]
3. St. Bernardus Abt 12 (Belgium) [6]
4. Westvletern XII (Belgium) [not on last year’s list]
T5. Rodenbach Grand Cru (Belgium) [4]
T5. Duvel (Belgium) [10]

The New Yellow Journalism

yellow-journalism
While to a certain extent it’s easy to understand the reaction of the big brewers, it’s still just sad. It’s the equivalent of negotiating with terrorists, in this case the food terrorists, so to speak. If you haven’t figured out what I’m talking about yet, it’s the so-called Food Babe, and her weird crusade against beer, among many other foodstuffs. She’s the modern version of yellow journalism, all sensationalism and almost no substance. It’s described as “a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.”

Her first salvo was last year when she sensationally claimed to expose The Shocking Ingredients in Beer. Almost every one was as un-shocking as it gets, especially if you understand the brewing process. But that’s the new yellow journalism, and unfortunately you see it all over the internet. A provocative headline to grab page views, link bait or something just overly sensational is all you need. It’s happened so many times since I’ve been writing online that I’ve lost count. And it works. The beer community rushes in to correct egregious mistakes, faulty reasoning, uninformed opinion while the hit count spikes, advertisers smile and websites raise their advertising rates. It rarely matters that what’s written is often wrong, sometimes so utterly wrong that it should be embarrassing for not only the author, but the publication, too. And yet curiously, it’s not. And for me, that’s why it’s yellow journalism. It’s not intended to be factual, or well-researched or reasoned. It’s sole purpose is to get eyeballs on the page. And facts apparently are boring. The truth is somnambulistic. Controversy, even the manufactured kind, is what brings the traffic.

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The “Food Babe” with her comically large magnifying glass.

I don’t need to rehash all that was wrong with the original missive by the Food Babe, The Shocking Ingredients in Beer. Plenty of people dissected it at the time, though none better than Ambitious Brew author Maureen Ogle, who enlisted the help of several respected brewers in her lengthy, comprehensive denunciation What’s In YOUR Beer? Or, The Dangers of Dumbassery, which she later summarized in All About Beer Magazine as Don’t Be A Knee-Jerk, Research the Facts. As Ogle notes, the Food Babe started her “research” with a “baseline list of ‘legal’ additives allowed in beer from the book ‘Chemicals Additives in Beer’ by the Center of Science and Public Interest.” Despite its name, the CSPI is a prohibitionist organization that rarely has anything to do with actual science. It’s one of the most egregiously dishonest of the bunch, in my opinion, an opinion assembled from following them for many years. They’re hardly a good place to begin an honest attempt to look at the ingredients in beer. Plus she begins by stating she’s not even a beer drinker, but prefers wine, even though many of the process chemicals she accuses beer of being composed of are also used in making wine.

A close second, there was also Thomas Cizauskas’ take in Beer Wars: The Calumny of The Food Babe. But others, before and since, have noted that Vani Hari (the Food Babe’s given name) has zero credentials in food sciences, or any other science, apparently. See, for example the RationalWiki or Joe Schwarcz: The Food Babe is anything but an expert on GMOs, writing in the Montreal Gazette. There’s no shortage of people writing about what she’s saying — pro and con — and that, of course, is the point. She’s so out there that people can’t help it; the Ann Coulter of food punditry. Despite so many people crying foul, it’s had no effect whatsoever, which is exactly what you’d expect if truth was never really the goal.

So yesterday, she doubled down and penned an open letter and petition: Anheuser-Busch and Miller Coors: Tell Us What’s In Your Beer! This, despite the fact that beer is hardly a mystery, and its ingredients and processes are not only well know, but readily available to anyone who wants to learn about them. But learning about what’s really in beer has apparently no interest to Hari whatsoever. There’s no angle she can sell in that. But ignorance is indeed blissful, and over 40,000 possibly well-meaning but similarly misguided people signed her petition, despite not really understanding the current law regarding alcohol is different for most other food products.

And she even contradicts herself with the basic premise. In her ridiculous graphic, she says that we know what’s in Coca-Cola and Windex, but not beer (even though she claimed to unearth what’s in beer last year) even though anyone paying attention already knows what’s in beer, how it’s made and the process chemicals that are not in the finished product. It’s hardly the #MysteryBeer she claims it to be. That’s a joke, a lie and a very effective way to drum up visitors. There’s no mystery to end, and she knows it. But it’s a fabulous way to get more attention for herself. And boy is it working.

But worst of all, earlier today ABI quickly caved. As a public company, I presume they concluded that the publicity was bad for their image, despite the absurdity of it. Of course, if she’d done even a modicum of actual research, she would have known that since at least 2012, ABI created a website (probably in response to the watering down claims) called tapintoyourbeer.com , which lists for every product they make, the ABV, fat, energy, carbohydrates and proteins. Now they’ve begun listing the primary ingredients for some of their products. For example, for Budweiser they list: “Water, Barley Malt, Rice, Yeast, Hops (ingredient listing is consistent with the FD&C Act).” In their official statement, they say they’ll be expanding that information with additional beer ingredients.

We provide significant information about our beer and their nutritional content through both our consumer hotline (1-800-DIAL-BUD) and our global consumer-information website www.tapintoyourbeer.com, which we have expanded over the years. This exceeds what is required of alcohol producers and is beyond what many other beer, wine and hard liquor producers provide. However, as American consumer needs evolve, we want to meet their expectations. Therefore, we are working to list our beer ingredients on our website, just as you would see for other food and non-alcohol beverage producers. We are beginning immediately, having incorporated this information earlier today on www.tapintoyourbeer.com for our flagship brands, Budweiser and Bud Light, and will be listing this for our other brands in the coming days.

To which, the Food Babe is claiming victory for her and her “Food Babe Army,” which is apparently what she calls her followers or fans, and states that they have “change[d] the policies of a multi-billion dollar company overnight.” But she’s not done, not until every brewery falls in line with her demands. She’s now posted a new graphic crowing about ABI caving in to her demands and asks what MillerCoors is hiding now that they’re “drinking in the dark,” whatever that means.

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It’s curious how she had this photo of herself in front of a wall of beer cans all ready to go.

But according to Brewbound, MillerCoors also listed their primary ingredients on their Facebook page earlier today.

At MillerCoors, we put quality and safety above all else. Our beers are regulated by the TTB and every one of our products meets all federal and state regulatory requirements.

We’re proud of the care that goes into the production of all of our beers and have been brewing great-tasting beers with the highest quality ingredients for more than 440 combined years.

From the purity of the water we use to the highest-quality hops and malted barley, our brewmasters go to great lengths to ensure the quality and consistency of our beers.

We also value transparency and are happy to comply with the request for additional information. Earlier this year, we led all alcohol companies by voluntarily placing a nutritional label on our Miller64 brand and we will be putting more ingredient information online in the days ahead.

We will be including the ingredient list starting with our most popular brands, representing the overwhelming majority of our brand volume:

Coors Light, Miller Lite, Blue Moon Belgian White, Coors Banquet, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller High Life, Keystone Light and Miller Fortune.
Coors Light: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller Lite: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller High Life: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Keystone Light: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Blue Moon Belgian White: Water, barley malt, wheat, oats, yeast, hops, orange peel and coriander
Coors Banquet: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller Genuine Draft: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops
Miller Fortune: Water, barley malt, corn, yeast and hops

Maybe she didn’t have time to update her graphics again. Certainly she knows Miller Coors posted these, because she’s posted on their Facebook page, with this:

I have an email from you that says you use “corn syrup” and it’s a main ingredient in your beer – also – you said via email that bluemoon and banquet both have corn syrup. Where’s the full list of ingredients?

They replied, trying to explain that “the corn we use is a liquid corn brewing adjunct, but it is not high fructose corn syrup.” The ignorance about brewing displayed in the comments, presumably by her Food Babe Army, is as alarming as it is remarkable.

The problem is with the first expose, where the Food Babe brought up many different chemicals and items which are used in the brewing process but are not ingredients. Some are used to cool the beer through the process, some for cleaning, and some for other purposes that don’t end up in the beer you drink, some of which never touch the beer at all. For just one example, she claimed glycol was in beer. But that’s merely a coolant used to chill beer in the brewing process. It never touches the beer … ever. If it did, it would ruin the beer. But it’s still there in her list, displaying either a comic ignorance or a malicious intent to mislead. But that’s the irony. She’s claiming to be holding brewers’ feet to the fire to be truthful and transparent, while she herself is being completely dishonest. If her intent was honest, by now she would have modified her earlier attack to reflect the reality she would have, or should have, learned in the year since she first made her absurd claims about what’s in beer. If she was being honest, she’d admit some, if not all, of what she’d claimed was in beer, really wasn’t, for the simple fact that it’s not. That she appears to have learned nothing in the year since she first made her sensationalist claims, and stands by every one of her absurd statements, tells us everything we need to know about her veracity and her real intentions.

Most brewers I know don’t have a problem rattling off their beers’ ingredients nor would they probably mind listing them on the bottle or can, if they were required to do so. It’s not a conspiracy that they don’t have to currently. They do have to list them when they submit each beer for approval to the TTB, who regulate beer and other alcohol at the federal level. There’s already been discussions about listing nutritional information and/or alcohol and servings information. So nobody’s getting away with anything, or trying to poison you with chemicals, as the Food Babe suggests. That’s just bullshit. Whether or not you like the beers made by the big brewers, they’re very well made and modern breweries are industrial and technological marvels. For the most part, they’ve perfected the science of brewing. It’s too bad the fizzy yellow color of their beer is now the same color of the journalism attacking the beer industry.


UPDATE (6.13): To further prove my point, throughout the day, several people have commented that the Food Babe does not allow any dissenting opinions on her Facebook page, removing and banning anything challenging her point of view. And I’m not talking about anything insulting or harassing, I’m talking about science that refutes her. For example, the gentleman who writes the Facebook page Science Corner told me he was “blocked when I pointed out her inconsistencies and lack of fact checking. As a scientist I referenced my comments with actual facts taken from peer reviewed scientific journals.” Nothing says “honesty” like not allowing any debate. To makes matters worse, apparently her minions are now attacking me personally. Not my arguments, mind you, just my character. For example, one Food Babe Army soldier asked me if I was “bought & sold by Monsanto” or speculated that perhaps “Most of [my] investments [are] in big AG.” Hilarious, they really know me so well. I’m not exactly sure why dissent is so assiduously forbidden, if — as her followers insist — she’s just trying to get at the truth. As one commenter claims, “she’s trying to help WE THE PEOPLE make better decisions so we don’t become sick.” Apparently her plan to help these people with their decision-making will be accomplished by not allowing honest debate. Yet I’m the one who is “the YELLOW JOURNALIST,” as one of her wingnuts spat at me. It’s simply amazing.

Big Chin Superhero

UPDATE 2 (6.17): Several other rants about how dishonest Hari is being with her anti-beer campaign are worth taking a look at. First, Maureen Ogle wrote some new observations in Beware the Dangers of [Profit-Driven] Dumbassery. A couple more include Trevor Butterworth writing in Forbes, Quackmail: Why You Shouldn’t Fall For The Internet’s Newest Fool, The Food Babe, and Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe): The Jenny McCarthy of Food by David Gorski, writing in Science-Based Medicine. We’re all continuing to get trolled by the Food Babe Army, which is almost funny. One interesting troll tried to find fault with my take on glycol as a coolant, but mistook propylene glycol for another similar-sounding food safe compound used in salad dressing, among other things. For him it was a “gotcha” moment and (despite being wrong) he then declared (again) that I was “the yellow journalist.” This brings up two points in my mind. First, what the hell is wrong with these people? Why are they even using the term “the yellow journalist,” as if that’s a thing? They clearly don’t understand what yellow journalism is. I helpfully included a link to an overview of yellow journalism so that anyone unfamiliar with the more than 100-year-old term (almost everybody, one presumes) could see what I was talking about. The second point, and the more troubling of the two, is the idea that if Vani’s Army found one mistake in what I’ve written then that invalidates my entire argument and means that I’m the one engaging in yellow journalism. It’s a curious argument. They’re holding Vani’s critics to a standard of perfection that they’re not willing to impose on her. As far as I can tell, this has become about emotions and belief, and the facts no longer seem to matter, if indeed they ever did. That’s a scary prospect, but how else to explain why so many people seem to believe what she’s saying so uncritically and continue to do so when faced with numerous refutations disproving what she’s saying, and which are actually backed up with real science or expertise or experience. And speaking of being uncritical, it’s quite remarkable how many mainstream media outlets have given Hari a forum, and are passing on her misinformation without ever doing any fact-checking or maybe getting a second or contrary opinion. So much for being fair and balanced. But again it comes down to sensationalism, and the fact that controversy is what people what to see, the truth be damned.

UPDATE (7.14): Maureen Ogle today mentioned a new piece about the Food Babe in the Charlotte Observer, ostensibly the Food Babe’s home paper, Charlotte’s Food Babe has lots of fans – and some critics. Unsurprisingly, it’s mostly a fluff piece although at least it does address some of the criticisms leveled at Vani Hari. But it lets her get away with more than a few howlers, such as “Hari says she is simply trying to help people understand what’s in their food and hold companies accountable. She says she has researched her critics and that they attack anyone who opposes alternative nutrition.” Really, she’s “researched her critics?” I’d feel a lot better if she’d research their arguments and the science behind her original absurd claims.

Interestingly, the article mentions that she, and her husband, left lucrative “six-figure incomes” to run the website full-time, one that’s “packed with advertising and product endorsements. You can even buy an eating-plan subscription for $17.99 a month.” As someone who makes zero from writing this blog (and that’s on purpose I should add), I’d say you have to sell an awful lot of snake oil to make that work. Of course, the “babe” in food babe all but guarantees that she’ll get television time since we love people who are telegenic over substance so you’ll not be surprised in the least that she also has a “William Morris Endeavor agent to handle her TV appearances.” Frighteningly, a publisher is even putting out a book, “The Food Babe Way,” so that doesn’t sound like a cult or anything scary.

As to where she makes her money, something her “Army” loves to level at her critics (for example, commenters asked if I was being paid by Monsanto, oddly enough), it’s been revealed that she was a paid consultant to Chick-fil-A, but also claimed victory over the fast food chain when they announced they’d “use chicken that was free of antibiotics within five years,” posting “We Did It Again!” According to the Charlotte Observer, “Hari has confirmed that she was paid by Chick-fil-A for her work as a consultant on their ingredients, a fact she appears to have not mentioned on her website.” Yet none of her followers apparently have a problem with or see any contradiction in that.

Then there’s this headline: “Debate is her sport.” That’s almost funny, if it wasn’t so crucial to what’s wrong with someone like like Hari. She may claim to love debate, but she assiduously avoids it by banning anyone who questions her “findings,” even politely. The comments section of any piece written about her is rife with people telling tales of being banned, even this post.

Under “Science or silliness?,” the Observer brings up the nonsense about glycol, thusly:

Her claim about “an ingredient found in antifreeze” being added to beer also draws criticism. Actually, the ingredient used is propylene glycol alginate, a kelp derivative used to stabilize head foam, not propylene glycol, a coolant. She later clarified this on her website.

While she sort of updated information about her original claim, under Big Update: The Truth That Beer Companies Have Not Made Public Yet, under the subheading “‘Propylene Glycol Alginate’ is added to beer as a foam stabilizer,” she continues to mistake Propylene Glycol Alginate, or PGA, for “Propylene Glycol” that’s used in antifreeze, even though they’re two completely different animals. And in the original post, The Shocking Ingredients of Beer, still lists “Propylene Glycol (an ingredient found in anti-freeze)” exactly the same way as when it was first posted last fall. So the that misinformation is still being disseminated, despite her claim to have “clarified” it. Considering she keeps talking about “transparency,” why not update the original post? Well, the real reason is she’s still not even close to understanding what she’s talking about, and as far as I can tell she no intention of even trying to.

Pints For Prostates Urges Men To Get Checked During Men’s Health Week

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Today is the first day of Men’s Health Week, which is an international effort “to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.” In the week leading up to Father’s Day, health organizations around the world celebrate International Men’s Health Week, including our our own CDC.

Rick Lyke’s wonderful Pints for Prostates has been “Reaching Men Through the Universal Language of Beer” since 2008, when Rick launched it after he was “diagnosed and successfully treated for prostate cancer.”

Pints for Prostates is using the occasion of “Men’s Health Week,” and the observance of Father’s Day, to ask people to focus on Dad and how he is taking care of himself. At the events they attend they regularly meet men in high risk groups that still do not know that they need to get tested. In addition to funding their awareness mission, they put donations to work providing free men’s health screenings in partnership with the Prostate Conditions Education Council and they help fund the support groups for men and families fighting prostate cancer through a partnership with the Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network.

Most people do not realize that 1 in 6 men will develop prostate cancer and that this number is 33% higher than the 1 in 8 women who will face breast cancer. Last year we lost 30,000 men in America to a disease that is nearly 100% survivable when detected early and appropriately treated. Every week about 4,500 men in America hear the words “You have prostate cancer.” The nation’s leading prostate cancer organizations urge men to get screened starting at 40 years old, or at 35 if you have a family history of the disease or are African American.

Pints for Prostates is focused on getting men to take charge of their health. Their message to guys is simple:

  1. Get Tested
  2. Live Longer
  3. Drink More Beer

For more details, check out their website at PintsForProstates.com or their Facebook page.

Pints for Prostates ad

What Does Family Friendly Mean? Alcohol At Farmer’s Markets

vegetables
At farmer’s markets throughout California, you can buy locally grown food, fruit and vegetables, nuts and berries, prepared food, jewelry and other crafts and all manner of other products. The main difference between farmer’s market goods and others is that for the most part they’re grown or made in a relatively modest radius. The one product you can’t purchase, or sample, is alcohol. California Assembly Bill AB-2488 seeks to correct that. Not surprisingly, the shrill sheriff against all things fun, Alcohol Justice, is opposing this bill, and is strongly urging its supporters to help defeat the bill. I realize they can’t help themselves, having positioned themselves against absolutely everything and anything having to do with alcohol. Not to mention, every action they take is more about bringing attention, and potential donations to line their coffers, and not about common sense. Indeed, they’ve been veering farther and farther into ridiculous fringes of fanaticism recently.

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Naturally, you can distill their complaints down to the most pernicious criticism of all: it’s about the kids. Of course it’s really not, but let’s look at their arguments:

[It] will negatively impact public health, an impact that is antithetic to what farmers’ markets largely stand for: improving community health through more healthy food choices.

Alcohol anywhere, in their sober brains, always impacts public health negatively, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. It really doesn’t matter where, or when, they’re firmly against it. But “more healthy food choices” includes the moderate consumption of alcohol, although they now are taking the position that even moderate drinking is harmful, going against the FDA and a majority of American’s personal experience. But from the simple perspective of being healthy, beer, wine and cider from small producers contains no additives or chemicals and are made from only natural, mostly agricultural ingredients. Many use local raw materials whenever possible. Beer, wine and cider are very healthy and local producers are very much in keeping with the spirt of farmer’s markets.

Farmers’ markets are family-friendly events commonly held in unrestrained public spaces, like streets, sidewalks and parking lots. Allowing for alcoholic beverage service in such venues is a recipe for increased alcohol-related harm.

I’m increasingly hearing this term “family-friendly.” What exactly does that mean? For Alcohol Justice, it appears to mean no alcohol, no anything that is strictly for adults. I believe they’d like the entire world to be family-friendly, which means making alcohol illegal again. But that’s complete bullshit. Family-friendly should not mean a world only Rated “G” with nothing adult in it. But that’s how they take it, for them Family-friendly means kids-only and the two are not the same, nor should they be. We’re training or raising our kids to be adults, and our job as parents is to prepare them to be adults. But for Alcohol Justice, and many other prohibitionists, they believe the best way to do that is for our kids to never, ever be exposed to anything adult in nature. That until they’re 18 — or 21 — they should never be exposed to or learn anything about the adult world. Then on that magic day when they’re declared an adult, we push them out into the world, utterly ignorant of anything they’re about to face. That’s the reason binge drinking at college is such a problem now, because of this idea of keeping kids sheltered from the adult world, another name for which is “the world.” There’s only one world, but prohibitionists think we should keep a wall between children and that world. It’s completely absurd, and counter-productive. It’s actually doing more harm than good, in my opinion. Family-friendly should mean anyplace where kids are not in any particular danger and are safe, but who doesn’t what that to be literally every place? I want to feel safe wherever I’m at, too, kids are not really part of the equation. With some limited exceptions (and not including farmer’s markets), kids should be able to be anywhere their parents choose to take them, period.

Children do not need to see their parents drinking wine or hard cider when they shop for fruit or vegetables; that practice is most damaging to impressionable young minds as youth expectations and attitudes will become more accepting of underage alcohol use. That “normalization” will be the message that youth will take away if this bill passes.

This one is the most obnoxious, and wrong. Children very much do “need to see their parents drinking wine or hard cider when they shop for fruit or vegetables.” It’s called modeling behavior, and how else would kids know what is proper drinking behavior unless they see their parents practicing it? It is absolutely not “damaging to impressionable young minds” to see their parents engaging in perfectly acceptable and legal behavior in a responsible manner. If that makes them “more accepting of underage alcohol use” then you’re not doing your job. There are many things that kids can’t do that their parents can. Do kids somehow start to be “more accepting” of driving a car before they get a license just because they continually see their parents driving? Are kids “normalized” into believing they should be stealing their parents’ car to go for a joyride just because they saw their Dad drive them to school? Of course not. They understand that it’s something they’re not allowed to do until they turn sixteen and obtain a license. It’s not that hard. To say otherwise is complete propaganda to further an absurd agenda.

This is especially true in Sonoma County — where we live — where there are currently 23 breweries, 5 cideries, 3 craft distilleries and 450 wineries. As a result, there are plenty of opportunities to be at local farmer’s markets. The cideries use local apples and many of the wineries grow their own grapes, too. Why shouldn’t they be every bit as welcome at a local farmer’s market as the nearby strawberry farmer or cattle rancher? They’re already a part of their community, usually donate time and money, not to mention all the positive economic impact they have in their area. It’s quite frankly insulting to say they’re not welcome because a child might see their Mom or Dad having a sip of wine.

As one of my favorite brewery slogans makes clear, “Beer is Agriculture.” It’s only natural it should be allowed at a farmer’s market.

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