Today is Dave Alexander’s 52nd birthday. Until recently, Dave was the co-owner, along with his wife Dianne, of the world famous Brickskeller beer bar in Washington, DC. They’re sill rocking the beer world at their other beer bar: RFD. Dave’s also a crack lead guitarist who often plays with the Rolling Boil Blues Band. This year at CBC Dave and Dianne received the Brewers Association Recognition Award. Join me in wishing Dave a very happy birthday.
Today is also the 48th birthday of Lester Jones. Lester was for a number of years the economist for the Beer Institute, the man who crunched all the numbers, including the great resource Beer Serves America, but last year he moved over to do the same job for the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA). As a big fan of the dismal science, I’ve gotten to know Lester over the last several years and appreciate all that he does to help promote beer. He’s one of the good guys. Join me in wishing Lester a very happy birthday.
The Brewers Association (BA) announced today that the United States Senate established a Senate Small Brewers Caucus. The new Caucus was founded by Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).
From the press release:
In a Dear Colleague letter, Senators Baucus and Crapo noted, “In recent years, the more than 1,700 craft brewers all across America have met growing consumer demand for their products by brewing flavorful and innovative beers which they encourage Americans to enjoy in a responsible manner. These small and independent brewers…generate more than $3 billion in wages and benefits, and pay more than $2.3 billion in business, personal and consumption taxes.”
Mirroring the House Small Brewers Caucus, formed in 2007, the Senate Small Brewers Caucus provides a forum for members of the Senate and their staffs to discuss the issues important to small brewers while exploring what lawmakers can do to strengthen the growth and role of these small businesses in local economies across the country.
The caucus will also provide opportunities for Senators and staff to learn about the science and art of brewing beer, and the unique cultural and economic contributions made by small brewers to their communities.
Currently, the 1,700+ small American breweries account for about five percent of all the beer enjoyed in the United States and 50 percent of brewery jobs—-totaling some 100,000 good-paying part- and full-time positions across the country.
According to Senator Crapo, “[t]his caucus will provide Senators with a better understanding of all aspects of small brewing and the positive impact it has on their communities.”
I think I’ve mentioned before that my wife is a political news junkie. She just sent me this link from one of the most popular political websites, Politico, entitled Craft beer bridges partisan divide in Senate. It’s nice to see beer getting some mainstream attention.
The Politico article is all about the introduction Wednesday of BEER, “Brewer’s Employment and Excise Relief Act,” which would cut taxes for microbreweries and on the production of smaller quantities of beer barrels, among other things. It was introduced in the Senate by Republican Mike Crapo (Idaho) and Democratic Senator John Kerry (Massachusetts).
Although Senator Kerry misstates that the “craft beer revolution started right here in Massachusetts,” I think we can forgive him for that one, having obviously been talking with Jim Koch for many months about this bill.
Here’s Crapo’s Press Release about the introduction of the BEER Act:
Small Brewery Tax Bill Would Create Jobs, Open Markets
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Washington, D.C. — Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) today introduced legislation to reduce the beer excise tax for America’s small brewers. The Brewer’s Employment and Excise Relief (BEER) Act will help create jobs at more than 1,600 small breweries nationwide, which collectively employ nearly 100,000 people. Idaho and Massachusetts are home to dozens of small breweries.
“Like any private business, craft brewing is all about supply and demand,” said Crapo. “In touring Idaho last year, I met with many craft brewers who are seeking to expand their business because they are seeing increased demand for their product. In addition, this legislation will expand the ready markets for our barley, wheat and hops producers in Idaho. I remain optimistic this bill will pass this year to create new jobs and new markets.”
“The craft beer revolution started right here in Massachusetts and they’ve been going toe to toe with multi-national beer companies ever since,” said Kerry. “This bill will help ensure that these small businesses keep people on the payroll and create jobs even during tight economic times.”
Because of differences in economies of scale, small brewers have higher costs for production, raw materials, packaging and market entry than larger, well-established multi-national competitors. The BEER Act also helps states that produce barley, hops and other ingredients used by these small brewers. In addition to Senators Crapo and Kerry, the legislation is co-sponsored by a bipartisan coalition of 16 additional Senators.
Currently, a small brewer that produces less than two million barrels of beer per year is eligible to pay $7.00 per barrel on the first 60,000 barrels produced each year. This legislation will reduce this rate to $3.50 per barrel, giving our nation’s smallest brewers approximately $19.9 million per year to expand and generate jobs. This change helps approximately 1,525 breweries nationwide.
Currently, once production exceeds 60,000 barrels, a small brewer must pay the same $18 per barrel excise tax rate that the largest brewer pays while producing more than 100 million barrels. This legislation will lower the tax rate to $16 per barrel on beer production above 60,000 barrels, up to two million barrels, providing small brewers with an additional $27.1 million per year that can be used to support significant long-term investments and create jobs by growing their businesses on a regional or national scale.
The small brewer tax rate was established in 1976 and has never been updated. This legislation would update the ceiling defining small breweries by increasing it from two million barrels to six million barrels. Raising the ceiling to six million barrels more accurately reflects the intent of the original differentiation between large and small brewers in the U.S.
The Brickskeller is now re-opened, only a week after it changed hands. The original name was reported to be “Rock Creek,” but according to D.C.’s Young & Hungry blog, that name was already taken and eventually they settled on the “Bier Baron” as the new name. A new canopy sign won’t be up until Friday, followed by more improvements and, presumably, a new website in the coming weeks.
New owner Megan Merrifield expects to “have 500 different beers, and every one of them, without question, will be available.” 350 were bequeathed by Dave and Diane Alexander and the rest will be sourced by Merrifield and her new crew, a few of which are employees who worked for the Brickskeller.
While the fate of the Brickskeller pub in Washington, D.C. has been mostly rumor, today local FM radio station WTOP 103.5 revealed the names of the new buyers and some of their plans for the iconic building at 22nd Street NW. According to WTOP News:
Megan Merrifield and her husband are buying The Brickskeller, a haven for beer lovers on 22nd Street in Northwest.
When Merrifield takes over the property later this month, they will be changing the name to “Rock Creek” — and that’s about it. “We are buying the Brickskeller with the intention to keep the regulars that are going there, going there. We will offer them their favorite beers,” Merrifield says. “The bar may get some new hardwood floors and a facelift for the bathrooms.”
The report adds that December 23 is the expected closing date and that the new owners hope to re-open just a few days later, possibly as soon as the 26th. The Merrifields also own several area hotels, such as the Windsor Inn, Embassy Inn and the District Hotel.
Dave Alexander examined one of the bottles in the Brickskeller’s large cold storage area as the Washington, D.C. beer landmark, with more than 1300 selections on its beer menu, turned fifty years old in 2007. (PHOTO BY GREGG WIGGINS)
Rumors have been flying around for months, and now it looks like it’s just about official. The world-famous Brickskeller pub in Washington, D.C. on 22nd Street NW will be closing shortly.
Opened by Diane Alexander’s family in 1957, and operated for many years by her and her husband Dave Alexander, the building will apparently be renovated and turned into a boutique hotel. The Alexander’s will retain the rights to the name and most likely moved the Brick to another location. As far as I know, their other location, RFD, is unaffected by the deal and may at one point even transition into the new Brickskeller.
The Washington City Paper blog Young & Hungry floated the rumor at least as far back as early October. Yesterday, the DC Beer blog tweeted that a “credible source [told them] that The Brickskeller will shut it’s doors for good on 12.18.” Young & Hungry picked it up from there and so has TBD Neighborhoods. And All About Beer publisher Daniel Bradford posted the news of a pending Brickskeller sale on his Facebook page. Between that, and my own unnamed sources, it looks like this is going to happen. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Dave Alexander yet, but I suspect that’s the next call. It will be sad to see the Brick gone. The last time I was there was July and it was great seeing the place packed for an event with several of the brewers attending SAVOR.
If you’re planning on going to either Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Stephen Colbert’s March to Keep Fear Alive on October 30 — or if you just happen to live in the Washington D.C. area — you’re most likely going to need something to do the night before. If so, have I got an event for you.
The Brickskeller in D.C. will host Sanity/Fear: A Rally for Beer on Friday night October 29, 2010. This is coincidentally the eve of A Rally for Sanity with Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) and Keep Fear Alive with Stephen Colbert (Colbert Report) on Saturday afternoon on the mall at our nation’s capitol in Washington, DC.
Join Celebrator Beer News publisher Tom Dalldorf (who’s alter ego Glenn Becks is named for a mediocre German import) as we consider Sanity in brewing and Fear of extreme beers with brewers Bill Madden, Mad Fox Brewing Company, Falls Church, VA and Jason Oliver, Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company, Roseland, VA. Several of their best efforts will be served along with some cellar treasures selected by the Brick’s Dave Alexander.
Following this will be a performance by the Rolling Boil Blues Band defying Sanity by instilling Fear via beery tunes like Hop This Town, This Beer’s For You, Homebrew Hand Jive and (sadly) many more! The band features Dave Alexander on lead guitar and Tom Dalldorf on so-called vocals. Fortunately, the beer will be flowing!
Damn, that should be a lot of fun. Wish I could be there. Additional details and tickets are available at the Brickskeller website. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online. Here’s the info from the website:
Friday, Oct. 29th
Owner/Publisher of the Celebrator Beer News
Brings two brewmasters to our stage in a bearish recreation of the following days rally!
Dave’s old buddy, Rolling Boil Blues bandmate and fearless leader Tom Dalldorf, owner / publisher of Celebrator Beer Magazine returns to the Brick for a beerish re-creation of the next day’s Stewart-ish and Colbert-ish rally in a Sanity vs. Fear beer tasting! Tom always brings the bestest of the bestest beers to his events! Oh yeah don’t ya know after we gets’ em liquored up our lucky toe tapping guests will be closing their eyes screaming check please and covering their ears while me Tommy and a couple of real musicians get up on stage and start feeding back and blowing the endings to our favorite beer infused tunes!
These events will be held at
1523 22nd St NW
“Come for the Sanity. Stay for the Fear. Beer and Loathing at the Brickskeller, Washington, DC. Be there!”
Today’s featured artwork is thoroughly modern, but on an old-time subject. It’s about the mansion built by Washington D.C. beer mogul Christian Heurich, who was born today in 1825. It’s a twenty-page independent comic book with a story by Matt Dembicki and art by Andew Cohen. Entitled The Brewmaster’s Castle, the story takes place March 7, 1945 as an 102-year old Heurich takes a bittersweet final stroll through the mansion he built between 1892-94. Here’s page 1:
The actual building still stands, known today as the Christian Heurich House Museum it’s billed as “Washington’s Most Intact Late-Victorian House” and described as follows:
One of Washington’s best-kept secrets, The Brewmaster’s Castle is the most intact late-Victorian home in the country, and a Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.
Built in 1892-1894 of poured concrete and reinforced steel by German immigrant, local brewer and philanthropist, Christian Heurich (HI-rick), it is also the city’s first fireproof home.
Heurich was Washington’s second largest landowner, the largest private employer in the nation’s capital, and as the world’s oldest brewer, ran his brewery until his death at 102.
A visit to The Brewmaster’s Castle is a visit back in time to the late-19th Century, when the Heurich family was in residence in Washington’s premier residential neighborhood.
Here’s what the mansion looks like today.
But back to the comic book. Here, Christian Heurich strolls through his mansion.
And near the end of the story, Heurich begins turning out the lights.
The original Christian Heurich Brewery opened in 1873 but was closed in 1956 by Christian Heurich, Jr., who took over the brewery after his father died in 1945. Where the brewery stood is now the site of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 1986, Christian Heurich, Jr.’s son Gary Heurich started Olde Heurich Brewing, an early D.C. microbrewery that lasted twenty years, closing in 2006.
You can buy your own copy of the comic book for only $5 (plus $1 shipping) directly from the author. You can pay him directly via PayPal using his e-mail address of mattdembicki (@) gmail (.) com. He’s “hoping [they] might get some funds soon to print a larger run and get greater distribution. You can help. Support the arts and brewing history (not to mention independent comics) — all worthy causes IMHO — by buying this unique hand-crafted comic directly from the artist. Below is the cover.