Senate Passes Resolution Celebrating Brewers

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This is kind of fun. A few years ago, the California state senate declared that February was California Beer Month using language I helped draft. Other states have followed suit, as well. But now the U.S. Senate has unanimously passed a national resolution, S. Res. 188 recognizing the efforts of small breweries nationwide and American Craft Beer Week in particular.

Here’s the BA’s press release:

The weeklong celebration honoring the country’s small and independent craft brewery renaissance during the 10th American Craft Beer Week (ACBW) continues, as Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Susan Collins (R-Me.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) introduced a resolution, S. Res. 188, expressing the Senate’s appreciation of the goals of the week and commending the craft brewers of the United States. The U.S. Senate passed S. Res. 188 by unanimous consent.

From May 11-17, all 50 states witnessed over 2,000 registered ACBW events, including exclusive brewery tours, special craft beer releases, food and beer pairings, tap takeovers and more, to honor the ever-advancing craft beer culture and unite tens of thousands of beer lovers nationwide. CraftBeer.com also created an interactive graphic featuring fun facts to commemorate each state and its respective commitment to craft brewing.

“American Craft Beer Week is about supporting and celebrating small and independent brewers,” said Julia Herz, publisher of CraftBeer.com and craft beer program director at the Brewers Association. “We are thrilled to see the U.S. Senate recognize the week and commend the accomplishments of small brewery businesses, each of whom are a driving economic force and cultural bright spot for this country.”

In addition to expressing gratitude for the goals of ACBW, the resolution recognizes the significant contributions of the craft brewers of the United States to the economy and to the communities which the craft brewers are located. The resolution also commends craft brewers for providing jobs, supporting agriculture, improving balance of trade—particularly by producing many sought-after new and unique styles ranging from smoked porters to pumpkin peach ales—and educating the country and beer lovers around the world about the history and culture of beer, while promoting legal and responsible appreciation.

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Brussels Beer Challenge To Be Held In Antwerp

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2015 will mark the fourth year for the Brussels Beer Challenge. In its inaugural year it was held in Brussels, in the second year it was in Liege, and last year we were in Leuven. This year’s competition will be in Antwerp, described as a “city on the Scheldt, city of Rubens, of diamonds, of fashion, a port city… The sum of all these different aspects is what makes Antwerp into a real city: a vibrant, welcoming metropolis, which is also great fun and heart-warming, with green areas where you can relax and peaceful corners. Antwerp is a veritable cultural capital, which prides itself on its impressive architecture and splendid art. Moreover, Antwerp is a fashionista’s dream destination thanks to the stores of its world-renowned designers. The cafes only serve the best beers and foodies can enjoy the most delicious traditional and multicultural cuisine in the city’s restaurants. Antwerp: a pocket-sized metropolis which is sure to conquer anyone’s heart in no time at all.” And Antwerp also boasts two of the best frites shops anywhere.

From the press release:

During two days a tasting panel of 60 international renowned beer connoisseurs will taste 850 beers from all over the world. The participating beers are divided into categories based on origin, typicity and style and then evaluated. At the end of the two tasting days, the best beers, in each category, were awarded a gold, silver or bronze award.

This professional beer competition is a unique opportunity for all beer producers to compete with the best international and Belgian brewers.

Why organize this beer competition in Belgium?

Belgium is without a doubt the most unique beer country. Our country has a great expertise and an international reputation. It is only fitting that Belgium has his own professional beer contest. The mixed presence of both national and international specialists ensures that the awarded beers at the Brussels Beer Challenge can count on a huge media interest and international recognition. The Brussels Beer Challenge will take place from November 5-8, 2015.

I’m looking forward to going over and judging again this fall in Antwerp. Should be another great time.

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The 2014 Brussels Beer Challenge judges in Leuven.

Cancer Charities Grow Cancerous

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One of the byproducts of keeping a close watch on prohibitionist groups and other so-called non-profit organizations is that I’ve become quite jaded not just about those particular ones, but about the charitable industrial complex in general. It’s really become big business and, in my opinion, most have strayed very far from the (hopefully) good intentions that spawned them. Longtime readers will recognize this thread, that many of the charities and organizations that choose to attack the beer community from the high moral ground, are themselves often in no position to take such a lofty nose-in-the-air position.

In recent years, several cancer charities have criticized the alcohol industry for our fundraising efforts while hypocritically working with KFC and other unhealthily partners, as I detailed a few years ago with Biting the Hand That Feeds You. Between several of these cancer charities, and the usual prohibitionists, people who work in the alcohol field who want to do good and raise money for a cause that’s dear to them are routinely insulted and criticized for doing so. But taking a closer look at the charities themselves, as I started doing a few years ago, it’s not always clear how much actual good they’re really doing.

Just how many charities are there? In the U.S. alone there are a staggering 1.5 million non-profit organizations, the vast majority of them characterized as public charities. That’s essentially one charity organization for every 213 people in America. Of those, I don’t know how many are involved with cancer, but you can bet it’s a lot. In a partnership between the Tampa Bay Times, the California-based Center for Investigative Reporting, and CNN (who joined the partnership in 2013), they examined all of the charities and created a list of America’s 50 Worst Charities. Of the top ten, the second worst charity in the U.S. is a cancer one, the Cancer Fund of America. In fact, fully four of the top ten are cancer charities. In the full list of the top 48 worst charities, ten of them involve cancer. A surprising number of them are also about missing children, veterans and police and fire fighting groups, sad to say.

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But what prompted this was a report on Mashable I saw recently entitled Cancer charities allegedly misused $187 million for concerts and dating sites, U.S. says. Apparently, “Law enforcement from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with the Federal Trade Commission” charged four of them — Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society — “with taking money that donors had given to help cancer patients and using it to on themselves as well as their families and friends,” in an amount in excess of $187 million. The money was used “to buy cars, trips, luxury cruises, college tuition, gym memberships, jet ski outings, sporting event and concert tickets, and dating site memberships,” and even for providing lucrative jobs to friends and family. Two of the charities, Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society, will be shut down. I don’t know why the other two would continue.

The Washington Post also detailed the story, and also published their 5 reasons why it took the feds so long to catch on to the cancer charities scam.

I find it incredibly sad that the state of charities has become so deplorable. It’s to the point where you don’t know whether you can even trust someone soliciting donations, no matter how worthy the cause might sound. The odds are becoming increasingly likely that it may very well be a scam. And undoubtedly that hurts however many charities remain that are actually staying true to their purpose, because at least in my case I’m not giving to anybody until I’ve had a chance to look into the charity asking for my donation. And without the time to adequately do that most times, my default position is a blanket no. So I think the state of the charitable industrial complex has itself become a cancer of sorts, eating itself. With trust in non-profits understandably plummeting, what will that mean for the good work of the few? The sham charities are harming not only the people they bilk out of their cash and savings, but making many others, I have to assume, reluctant to donate to any charity without first knowing more about them. There must be a special circle of hell reserved for these people, praying on people’s better natures with their own worst.

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The Most Distinctive Causes Of Death By State

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This is somewhat interesting, though it was little to do with beer. The CDC released the results of an analysis of the “most distinctive cause of death for each state and the District of Columbia, 2001–2010.” I never realized this, but it makes sense. The CDC uses a standardized List of 113 Selected Causes of Death, based on the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision. This is to help the data collected be more useful, and allows comparisons to be drawn if the data is not affected by local bias or custom. Then the data used was “age-adjusted state-specific death rate for each cause of death relative to the national age-adjusted death rate for each cause of death, equivalent to a location quotient.”

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The analysis that went into creating the map was done by Francis Boscoe, who’s a researcher at the New York State Cancer Registry. Here’s the main findings, from the CDC website:

The resulting map depicts a variety of distinctive causes of death based on a wide range of number of deaths, from 15,000 deaths from HIV in Florida to 679 deaths from tuberculosis in Texas to 22 deaths from syphilis in Louisiana. The largest number of deaths mapped were the 37,292 deaths in Michigan from “atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, so described”; the fewest, the 11 deaths in Montana from “acute and rapidly progressive nephritic and nephrotic syndrome.” The state-specific percentage of total deaths mapped ranged from 1.8% (Delaware; atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, so described) to 0.0005% (Illinois, other disorders of kidney).

Some of the findings make intuitive sense (influenza in some northern states, pneumoconioses in coal-mining states, air and water accidents in Alaska and Idaho), while the explanations for others are less immediately apparent (septicemia in New Jersey, deaths by legal intervention in 3 Western states). The highly variable use of codes beginning with “other” between states is also apparent. For example, Oklahoma accounted for 24% of the deaths attributable to “other acute ischemic heart diseases” in the country despite having only slightly more than 1% of the population, resulting in a standardized mortality rate ratio of 19.4 for this cause of death, the highest on the map. The highest standardized mortality rate ratio after Oklahoma was 12.4 for pneumoconioses in West Virginia.

A limitation of this map is that it depicts only 1 distinctive cause of death for each state. All of these were significantly higher than the national rate, but there were many others also significantly higher than the national rate that were not mapped. The map is also predisposed to showing rare causes of death — for 22 of the states, the total number of deaths mapped was under 100. Using broader cause-of-death categories or requiring a higher threshold for the number of deaths would result in a different map. These limitations are characteristic of maps generally and are why these maps are best regarded as snapshots and not comprehensive statistical summaries.

Notice that despite prohibitionists claiming that alcohol is the “3rd-Leading Preventable Cause Of Death,” it’s actually not even on the list. It’s not even on the list of 113, apart from the more specific “Alcoholic Liver Disease.” Also, cancer isn’t among any of the top cause for any individual state, which is surprising given that it’s usually listed as the number two cause overall. Some of the stranger ones include Oregon and Nevada, whose leading cause is “legal intervention.” Then there’s Alabama and Tennessee with “accidental discharge of firearms,” while in Arizona and Arkansas it’s “discharge of firearms, undetermined intent.” Is anyone else bothered by the fact that in four states you’re most likely to die by being shot, whatever the reason?

SABMiller Acquires Meantime Brewing

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Global beer company SAB Miller has announced the acquisition of London’s Meantime Brewing in effort to enter the UK craft market.

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From the press release:

Meantime is a pioneer in British modern craft beer, giving SABMiller an entry point into the fastest-growing segment of the UK beer market and complementing its imported super-premium lagers such as Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Pilsner Urquell.

SABMiller plans to grow sales of Meantime’s beers nationally and explore export opportunities in its European markets under the continued leadership of Nick Miller, Meantime CEO.

Meantime was established by Brew Master, Alastair Hook, in 1999 with a brewery in Greenwich, London. The business has since created a successful range of British and international beer styles.

Sue Clark, Managing Director, SABMiller Europe, said: “Meantime has been at the forefront of the modern craft beer movement in the UK and brews an outstanding range of beers across a variety of styles. At SABMiller we love local variety, and carefully nurture our 200 local and heritage beers. Meantime, born in a city with a rich beer heritage, will be a special new addition to the SABMiller family.

“Nick Miller, Alastair Hook and their team have built a strong sense of pride and identity within Meantime, which has an excellent reputation for brewing consistently high quality beers and for industry-leading innovation. This expertise will boost our strategy to develop beers that appeal to more people, including women, and which can be attractive alternatives to wine and spirits.”

Nick Miller, CEO, Meantime, said: “I can say from personal experience, that SABMiller is a great company to be joining forces with. They see the opportunity, and believe in the longevity, of modern craft beer in the UK.

“SABMiller shares our passion for putting great beer first, and making, selling and marketing it responsibly to beer aficionados worldwide. The team at SABMiller have stressed how important our culture is to our success to date, and have a strong track record in retaining the special identities and heritage of the local businesses they’ve bought in the past.

“We are all excited about the opportunity to continue growing Meantime. We are also thrilled and flattered that SABMiller has given us a remit to innovate. This is a massive compliment and acknowledges our position as pioneers in modern craft beer.”

Volumes of beer sales at Meantime grew by 58% in 2014, outpacing the UK beer market’s 1% growth during the same period and making it one of the top-performing modern craft breweries in the UK.

Among Meantime’s award-winning lagers and ales are its leading brand London Pale Ale, London Lager, Yakima Red, Pilsner, India Pale Ale and London Porter. London Pale Ale and London Lager together account for around 70% of total volumes. Following the transaction, Meantime will open a pilot brewery which will become a centre for SABMiller’s European innovation and new product development.

The acquisition includes Meantime’s retail sites, including the Tasting Rooms and the brewery shop in Greenwich, the Greenwich Union pub, pop-up Beerbox pub, and the Brewery Fresh tank beer concept, which is now in 26 pubs across London, complementing SABMiller’s Pilsner Urquell unpasteurised tank beer in a further four London pubs.

The deal is expected to close in June of this year, and the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The BBC and the Guardian also have stories on the deal.

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Meantime brewmaster Alastair Hook, with Greg Koch from Stone Brewing, at a British Guild of Beer Writers event during the Great British Beer Festival in 2009.

Anchor To Release Liberty Ale In Cans

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Anchor Brewery announced today that they will be releasing Liberty Ale in 12 oz. cans, at least for a limited time. The cans are “a commemorative offering celebrating the 40th anniversary of the historic beer that started a revolution.” From the press release:

“I remember brewing the first batch of Liberty Ale with Fritz Maytag 40 years ago. We were both young and eager beer lovers and knew we wanted to create a beer unlike anything else at that time,” said Anchor Brewing Brewmaster Mark Carpenter. “We had come across a new hop variety called Cascade that had a distinct piney bitterness that we used in the brew. Through Fritz’s interest in history and travel he’d learned of a process European brewers used called dry-hopping; adding dry hops to beer fermenting in the cellar to boost its hoppy aroma. So we dry-hopped the ale with whole-cone Cascade hops, as well. During an era when light lagers were prevalent, Liberty Ale was a very hoppy ale for most people. Their palates were shocked and delighted by such a unique beer.”

The beer was originally sold to the public beginning in 1975, when the country was seized by bicentennial fever. Liberty Ale commemorated the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride. Considered the first American IPA brewed after prohibition,” it was also “the first modern dry-hopped ale in the US and was the beer that popularized the now-iconic Cascade hop.” Beginning this month, Liberty Ale 6-pack cans, as well as bottles and kegs, will be available throughout the U.S.

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Italy’s Tre Fontane Approved As Newest Trappist Brewery

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Last week, the International Trappist Association approved the 11th monastery brewery to be allowed to designate their beers as “officially” Trappist. There are now six Trappist breweries in Belgium, two in the Netherlands, and one each in Austria, the U.S.A. and now Italy. The latest monastery brewery, Abbey at Tre Fontane, is located in Rome, Italy. It was a religious spot since Roman times (from around the first century), and became affiliated with the Cistercian Order in 1625. According to Wikipedia:

Belonging to the monastery are three separate churches. The first, the Church of St. Paul of Three Fountains, was raised on the spot where St. Paul was beheaded by order of Emperor Nero. Legend accounts for the three springs (fontane) with the assertion that, when severed from Paul’s body, his head bounced and struck the earth in three different places, from which fountains sprang up. These still flow and are located in the sanctuary.

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That’s where the beer’s name comes from, Three Fountains Tripel, which is an 8.5% a.b.v. Tripel, brewed with Eucalyptus. That’s because the monks of the Tre Fontane Abbey planted fields of eucalyptus to combat malaria beginning in 1870. They also make olive oil, honey (flower, acacia, and eucalyptus), chocolates, and a Trappist liqueur.

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The beer is described by the ITA like this:

“The high carbonation gives the mouthfeel a pleasant dry finish. The mildly sweet aftertaste comes from the soothing flavor of eucalyptus herb, which cleanses and refreshes the palate. While the beer gives the impression of being light, it has abundant body. The high alcohol content adds a warm, refined feeling to the soothing highlights of the eucalyptus.”

American Craft Beer Week 2015

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Today begins the 10th annual American Craft Beer Week, which is themed this year as Cheers to the Sweet Land of Li-beer-ty. This year it will take place May 11-17, and “all 50 states will hold events including exclusive brewery tours, special craft beer releases, food and beer pairings, tap takeovers and more to honor the ever-advancing craft beer culture and unite tens of thousands of beer lovers nationwide.”

“American Craft Beer Week has provided independent beer fans across the country a chance to support their local breweries since 2006,” said Julia Herz, publisher of CraftBeer.com and craft beer program director at the Brewers Association. “With celebrations happening in all 50 states, this is truly an annual national event that recognizes all those involved in making craft beer from small breweries in the U.S. such a success.”

You can also follow news of ACBW and see what events have been scheduled and the list can be searched by state. The BA this year has also “created an interactive graphic with fun facts to commemorate each state and their commitment to craft brewing.”

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Click here to see the ACBW poster full size.

And here’s a larger view of what they had to say about California.

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Economic Impact Of California Beer

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The California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA) recently commissioned an economic impact study of the state’s brewing industry for last year. And the news is pretty great. Here’s some of the highlights:

Economic Impact: In 2014 craft beer contributed more than $6.5 billion to the economy of California. That’s up 18% from 2013. That’s a fairly conservative number and they’ll have a more accurate and most likely higher numbers in June when the full report is finished. The craft beer industry in California has a higher economic impact than any other state in the US.

Employment: In 2014 Craft Brewers employed more than 48,000 Californians.

Growth: During 2014 the number of operating breweries grew by over 24% giving us a total of 520 operating breweries in California.

Taxes: In 2014 California craft brewers paid over $56 million in State and federal excise taxes and paid more than $1.3 billion in income and other local, state and federal taxes ($880 million in state and local income taxes and $465 in federal income taxes).

Production Volume: 3.5 Million Barrels

Exports: 1.3 million barrels. (That’s still higher than the total production of all but two other states (PA and CO)).

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Norway’s E.C. Dahls Joins Brooklyn Brewery Family

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The Brooklyn Brewery announced today that E.C. Dahls Joins the Brooklyn Brewery Family. E.C. Dahls Brewery was originally founded in 1856 (there’s more history at Wikipedia) and today is owned by the Carlsberg Group. Here’s the press release from the Brooklyn Brewery:

Welcome to the Continuing International Adventures of Brooklyn Brewery. In our last episode, just over a year ago, we teamed up with our friends and importers at Carlsberg to open Nya Carnegiebryggeriet (NCB) in Stockholm, Sweden. NCB is our first sister brewery and its launch was the first time any American craft brewery ever entered into such a venture abroad. Today we’re proud to announce that we’re getting the gang back together once again to welcome E.C. Dahls Brewery in Trondheim, Norway into the Brooklyn Brewery family.

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We’re excited to be part of a new era in brewing at E.C. Dahls. Founded in 1856, Dahls has been a treasured presence in Trondheim for generations, and its traditional pilsner is a household name there. We’re dedicating ourselves to preserving this storied history while infusing the new venture with the spirit of brewing creativity and innovation that have become hallmarks of Brooklyn Brewery around the world. The new E.C. Dahls will blend American and Norwegian culinary cultures to create new beers that we’ll enjoy brewing and we believe Norwegian beer fans will enjoy drinking.

This is far from our first journey to Trondheim, of course. Brewmaster Garrett Oliver has regularly gone out of his way to visit during his many travels. Between the streetscapes of the seaside city, the thriving Scandinavian food scene that Garrett has followed for more than a decade, and the wonderful local appreciation of Brooklyn beer, it was always pretty easy to be enthralled with Trondheim. A couple years ago, Garrett hosted a beer dinner with local restaurateur Roar Hildonen, and the two quickly bonded over Roar’s great food and stellar Cognac collection. Roar became a fast friend and will now join us in leading the kitchen of the planned E.C. Dahl’s Tasting Room.

“The new E.C. Dahls will celebrate the great tradition of Dahls and bring the brewery and its portfolio into the thriving world of craft beer,” said Garrett. “Norway already has a great beer scene, and we’re really excited to become an even more active part of it.” As in Stockholm at NCB, there will be no Brooklyn brewed in Norway but visitors will be able to have some Brooklyn in the Tasting Room.

The Carlsberg Group also released their own press release, where they characterize the deal as a “collaboration.”

With the aim of creating the premier beer experience in Norway, the collaboration will see a new brewery with pub, restaurant, conference facilities and visitor center established at the existing Ringnes E.C. Dahls brewery site in Trondheim, Norway. The brewery will produce both popular local Dahls beer, as well as new craft beers that take inspiration from both Norwegian and US craft brewing traditions.

The brewery will welcome beer and food enthusiasts from around the world and become a laboratory for new ideas and experimentation. E.C. Dahls will have a top-class restaurant operated by local restaurateur Roar Hildonen.

“This is great news for the E.C. Dahls brewery, and great news for beer lovers in Norway and beyond”, says Jørn Tolstrup Rohde, Senior Vice President for Western Europe at Carlsberg Group. “Carlsberg’s collaboration with Brooklyn continues to explore new possibilities in craft brewing. Carlsberg started its life as a small brewery in Copenhagen back in 1847, and thanks to the resurgence of craft brewing in recent times, more and more people are getting interested in the world of beer. We think that’s very positive.”

Another interesting international development as American beer spreads its reach globally.

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