Homeland Security: Threat Level Amber Ale

The Department of Homeland Security is, apparently, all done securing our borders from terrorist threats. I say that because they’ve moved on from their stated work, which consists of — as their website puts it — “Preserving our Freedom, Protecting America,” to the more important job of protecting America’s breweries from the looming spectre of terrorist attack. The first to be saved is Creekside Brewing, a new brewery that recently opened in San Luis Obispo, California. Owners John Moule and Eric Beaton were told by the TTB (The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) that they must “protect the[ir] beer from terrorists” by building a wall around their tanks. At first the tanks, which sit in full view inside the brewpub, were separated from the public by some poles and chains. Not good enough, said the TTB. They must “be behind a physical barrier with locking doors,” they were told. So they put up locks. Still not good enough. Moule and Beaton were told to build a wall. After a lot of asking, they were finally told that “the wall was needed to prevent someone from poisoning the beer. What’s more, [the representative] told him it was a post-Sept. 11 measure that fell under the supervision of the Department of Homeland Security.” Creekside Brewing had to spend $15,000 on iron gates and thick glass and plastic, which also delayed their opening by a month.

Above is the new terrorist-proof Creekside Brewery. (Photo by Steve E. Miller of New Times). But where the story gets even more interesting, is that no one can say for sure exactly why, or under what law, they were singled out by the TTB to protect their brewery from a potential terrorist attack. As detailed by New Times, a local SLO newspaper, every federal agency pointed the finger at someone else when pressed for reasons why Creekside had to protect its beer. It’s pretty clear they’re the only brewery so far that’s been forced to put their brewery under lock and key in this fashion. But when it came to reasonable questions like “why,” things quickly turned into a Kafka novel. It’s definitely worth reading the New Times article, in which a labyrinth series of federal agencies were contacted, none of which would claim responsibility for Creekside’s delay in opening or their having to spend $15,000 on the new security measures. At the end, your head will be spinning. And you won’t feel any safer. As another blogger, Dick Destiny, put it. “One is more likely to be stung to death by bees than be the target of a terrorist attack in SLO.”

By sheer coincidence, I suspect, there is a Terrorist Beer Movement, but it has to do with people playing the video game America’s Army.



  1. says

    Man, I get angry just reading stuff like this. I think I’d call a few lawyers before ponying up 15k for a fence and some glass.


  2. says

    While I’m all for regulation, stuff like this is just ridiculous. We went through something similar when the government showed up at our shop looking for PESTICIDES. Seriously. Apparently anti-microbiables qualify as pesticides and they singled out our sodium metabisulfite (a staple for making wine) and our StarSan. 4 months and an uncountable number of calls to suppliers, government agencies and legal counsel, this was finally resolved by changing the labels so that they didn’t imply that they were killing those pesky microbes and we were safe.

    Why did they single us out??? No bloody clue.

  3. Rory says

    Seems like they don’t have anything better to do. It’s like locking the restrooms at underground BART stations, or the posting of soldiers on the approaches to the bridges. If someone wanted to do something, they’ll do it. Knowing how particular beer and wine makers are about testing their products, the chances of anything going out to the public are almost nil.

    What a waste of money. Wonder how many teachers could be paid with teh money they waste on this junk.

  4. says

    This is simultaneously the funniest and saddest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Yes, the big bad terrorists are everywhere. Sheesh. Get OVER it. Actually, this could work for me. I live in New Zealand, we pretty much reside at threat level “Polluted”. As a personal favour to you all, I’m more than happy to take all your beer, and keep it here… you know, for safety, yeah, safety! 😉

  5. says

    I agree with Greig. They should take a few photos of some guy in full camo with an AR standing in front of the tanks, in case a terrorist comes.

    If a terrorist wants to poison my beers, well, he definitely knows how to get me. I could even know it’s been poisoned. I think Homer simpsons said it best:

    “Ah beer, my only weakness – my Achille’s heel if you will.”

  6. Joe says

    It’s a shame that they didn’t make a good effort at notifying the beer community or the public in general about this so that political pressure could be brought to bare.

    Too silent victims of dumbass policy.

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