Historic Beer Birthday: Billy Carter

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Today is the birthday of William Alton Carter III, better known as Billy Carter (March 29, 1937–September 25, 1988). He “was an American farmer, businessman, and politician. Carter promoted Billy Beer, and was a candidate for Mayor of Plains, Georgia. He was also the younger brother of former Georgia Governor and U.S. President Jimmy Carter,” who signed into law the bill re-legalizing homebrewing.

BILLY CARTER

He was a proud redneck, and capitalized on his image as a beer-drinking roughneck bumpkin to sell Billy Beer.

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Billy Beer was a beer first made in the United States in July 1977, by the Falls City Brewing Company. It was promoted by Billy Carter, whose older brother Jimmy was the incumbent President of the United States. In October 1978, Falls City announced that it was closing its doors after less than a year of Carter’s promotion. The beer was produced by Cold Spring Brewing, West End Brewing, and Pearl Brewing Company.

Each can from the four breweries that produced it were slightly different. And you can see those differences in the cans below.

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“After Billy Beer ceased production, advertisements appeared in newspapers offering to sell Billy Beer cans for several hundred to several thousands of dollars each, attempting to profit from their perceived rarity. However, since the cans were actually produced in the millions, the real value of a can ranged from 50 cents to one dollar in 1981.”

circa 1975:  A shopkeeper selling 'Billy Carter Beer'. Billy Carter, the brother of American President Jimmy Carter, is a noted beer drinker and has named a beer for himself.  (Photo by Peter Keegan/Keystone/Getty Images)

“Billy Beer was also featured on an episode of the reality series Auction Kings, where an appraiser deemed a case of unopened Billy Beer to be worthless; however, at the featured auction, the case was sold for $100.”
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Here’s part of his story from 6 Presidential Siblings and the Headaches They Caused, published in Mental Floss:

Truly the standard by which all other presidential sibling’s antics are judged, Billy burst onto the national scene as the boisterous, hard-drinking counterpoint to his pious, reserved brother Jimmy. Billy’s early antics were amusing and fairly innocuous: he endorsed the legendarily terrible Billy Beer in an effort to make a little cash off of his hard-living image, and he made quips like, “My mother went into the Peace Corps when she was sixty-eight. My one sister is a motorcycle freak, my other sister is a Holy Roller evangelist and my brother is running for president. I’m the only sane one in the family.” While he worked hard to convey a roughneck bumpkin image to the press, Billy’s confidantes claimed that he was in fact well-read and an able businessman who used his Southern bona fides to help his older brother’s political cause. On the other hand, Billy’s drinking turned from amusing to tragic as his fame grew.

In 1979, he had to go into rehab to curb his drinking. Around the same time he nearly lost his Georgia home to the IRS for failing to pay a six-figure federal income tax bill for 1978.

The real capper, though, came when Billy began consorting with Libya at a time when relations between the North African nation and the U.S. were starting to strain. In 1978 he made a trip to Libya with a group of Georgia businessmen who were interested in expanding trade with the country; Billy then hosted a Libyan delegation in Atlanta. When questioned about his dealings, Billy responded, “The only thing I can say is there is a hell of a lot more Arabians than there is Jews,” a public-relations nightmare for which he later apologized. The damage got worse in 1980 when Billy registered as an agent of the Libyan government and received a $220,000 loan from the Libyans for helping facilitate oil sales. This transaction led to accusations of influence peddling and a Congressional investigation. In short, it was enough to make Jimmy Carter long for the days when his brother’s antics only included such little quirks as urinating in public in front of a group of reporters and dignitaries.

Mental Floss has an article entitled A Brief History of Billy Beer, which is actually a reasonably thorough account.

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The side of the twelve-pack carton of Billy Beer.

And here’s his biography from Find-a-Grave:

Folk Figure, Businessman. Known for his outlandish public behavior, he was a younger brother of former Georgia Governor and US President Jimmy Carter. After graduating from high school, he attended Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia but did not complete a degree. He then served four years in the US Marine Corps and after his discharge, he returned to Plains, Georgia to work with his brother in the family business of growing peanuts. In 1972 he purchased a gas and service station in Plains and operated it for most of the 1970s. In 1976 he attempted to enter the political ring when he ran for mayor of Plains but lost the election. In 1977 he endorsed Billy Beer, capitalizing upon his colorful image as a beer-drinking Southern “good ol’ boy” that developed in the press when his brother ran for US President. After Billy Beer failed, he was forced to sell his house to settle back taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service. In late 1978 and early 1979, he visited Libya three times with a contingent from Georgia, eventually registering as a foreign agent of the Libyan government and received a $220,000 loan. This led to a US Senate hearing on alleged influence peddling which the press named “Billygate.” In the autumn of 1987, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and after receiving unsuccessful treatments for the disease, he died the following year at the age of 51. In 1999 his son, William “Buddy” Carter, published a biography of his father titled “Billy Carter: A Journey Through the Shadows.”

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The hit television show The Simpsons featured Homer drinking a can of Billy Beer in the 1997 episode “Lisa the Skeptic”; after Bart tells him that the skeleton he is trying to hide is probably old enough already, he counters Bart’s remark by introducing his Billy Beer stating that people said the same thing about the beer. After he drinks the beer, he says “We elected the wrong Carter”. Also in the 1992 episode “The Otto Show”, Homer excitedly finds a can of Billy Beer in the pocket of his old “concert jacket”, and drinks it.

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Mitch Steele’s New Atlanta Brewery Has A Name: New Realm Brewing

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As you probably knew, former Stone Brewing’s head brewer, and one-time AB brewer, Mitch Steele, is opening a new brewery, which will be located in Atlanta. The official business name from the beginning has been the purposely generic American Beerworks LLC, a placeholder while they worked on the actual name the business will operate under. Today they made it official. The new brewery will be called “New Realm Brewing.”

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Here’s more information from the press release that was issued this morning:

Combining a collective passion for craft beer, partners Mitch Steele, Carey Falcone and Bob Powers will bring a “New Realm” to Atlanta’s brewing community later this year. The trio announced their new venture in the Atlanta Beltline area in the fall of last year and has spent many hours coming up with the appropriate name to suit it.

“We could not be more thrilled to announce our name, New Realm,” said Carey Falcone Co-Founder and CEO. “It has taken us quite a bit of time (over many beers, of course) to create our vision and land on the right name for our future brewery and restaurant. New Realm speaks to our desire to create a new realm in brewing and dining experiences, and to support an outstanding and dynamic local craft beer community.”

At the core of New Realm Brewing is Co-Founder, Brewmaster and COO, Mitch Steele formerly Brewmaster for 10 years at Stone Brewing. Steele, referred by many as an authority on brewing IPA’s, has decades of experience developing and brewing innovative and delicious beers. Steele authored a book in 2012 titled, “IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale.” Currently Steele is busy developing recipes and has shared that craft fans can “count on IPAs being poured at New Realm as well as barrel-aged beers and traditional lagers”.

New Realm Brewing will break ground soon in preparation to open the 20,000 square foot space located at 820 Ralph McGill Avenue in the growing Beltline area. “Plans are underway to bring Atlanta and its visitors a distinctive venue to enjoy craft beer and great artisanal foods in an inviting, unique and fun atmosphere,” said Bob Powers Co-Founder and CCO. “In addition to our production brewery, we will have a restaurant, as well as both a rooftop bar and an outdoor beer garden at New Realm and we look forward to unveiling design plans in the near future.”

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New Realm Owners Mitch Steele, Carey Falcone and Bob Powers in front of the Atlanta skyline.

Beer Birthday: Jimmy Carter

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Today is the birthday of our 39th U.S. President Jimmy Carter (October 1, 1924- ). He “is an American politician and author who served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. In 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Carter Center.

Carter, a Democrat raised in rural Georgia, was a peanut farmer who served two terms as a Georgia State Senator, from 1963 to 1967, and one as the Governor of Georgia, from 1971 to 1975. He was elected President in 1976, defeating incumbent President Gerald Ford in a relatively close election; the Electoral College margin of 57 votes was the closest at that time since 1916.”

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The White House website also has a series of presidential biographies, from “The Presidents of the United States of America,” by Frank Freidel and Hugh Sidey:

Jimmy Carter served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. He was awarded the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for work to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.

Jimmy Carter aspired to make Government “competent and compassionate,” responsive to the American people and their expectations. His achievements were notable, but in an era of rising energy costs, mounting inflation, and continuing tensions, it was impossible for his administration to meet these high expectations.

Carter, who has rarely used his full name–James Earl Carter, Jr.–was born October 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia. Peanut farming, talk of politics, and devotion to the Baptist faith were mainstays of his upbringing. Upon graduation in 1946 from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Carter married Rosalynn Smith. The Carters have three sons, John William (Jack), James Earl III (Chip), Donnel Jeffrey (Jeff), and a daughter, Amy Lynn.

After seven years’ service as a naval officer, Carter returned to Plains. In 1962 he entered state politics, and eight years later he was elected Governor of Georgia. Among the new young southern governors, he attracted attention by emphasizing ecology, efficiency in government, and the removal of racial barriers.

Carter announced his candidacy for President in December 1974 and began a two-year campaign that gradually gained momentum. At the Democratic Convention, he was nominated on the first ballot. He chose Senator Walter F. Mondale of Minnesota as his running mate. Carter campaigned hard against President Gerald R. Ford, debating with him three times. Carter won by 297 electoral votes to 241 for Ford.

Carter worked hard to combat the continuing economic woes of inflation and unemployment. By the end of his administration, he could claim an increase of nearly eight million jobs and a decrease in the budget deficit, measured in percentage of the gross national product. Unfortunately, inflation and interest rates were at near record highs, and efforts to reduce them caused a short recession.

Carter could point to a number of achievements in domestic affairs. He dealt with the energy shortage by establishing a national energy policy and by decontrolling domestic petroleum prices to stimulate production. He prompted Government efficiency through civil service reform and proceeded with deregulation of the trucking and airline industries. He sought to improve the environment. His expansion of the national park system included protection of 103 million acres of Alaskan lands. To increase human and social services, he created the Department of Education, bolstered the Social Security system, and appointed record numbers of women, blacks, and Hispanics to Government jobs.

In foreign affairs, Carter set his own style. His championing of human rights was coldly received by the Soviet Union and some other nations. In the Middle East, through the Camp David agreement of 1978, he helped bring amity between Egypt and Israel. He succeeded in obtaining ratification of the Panama Canal treaties. Building upon the work of predecessors, he established full diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China and completed negotiation of the SALT II nuclear limitation treaty with the Soviet Union.

There were serious setbacks, however. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan caused the suspension of plans for ratification of the SALT II pact. The seizure as hostages of the U. S. embassy staff in Iran dominated the news during the last 14 months of the administration. The consequences of Iran’s holding Americans captive, together with continuing inflation at home, contributed to Carter’s defeat in 1980. Even then, he continued the difficult negotiations over the hostages. Iran finally released the 52 Americans the same day Carter left office.

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But, of course, none of that is why people who love beer will celebrate Jimmy Carter. Carter, of course signed H.R. 1337 on October 14, 1978. That was the bill that finally legalized homebrewing. And while you can argue that it was really senator Alan Cranston who deserves the lion’s share of the credit, after all he added the specific language to the bill that made homebrewing okay again, it’s generally Carter who’s best remembered for having signed the bill into law. At least outside of California, anyway, where many people know that it was Amendment 3534, drafted by Cranston, that homebrewing was decriminalized.

Still, I think it’s fair to give Carter some of the credit, and thanks him for signing the bill allowing homebrewing again into law. I’m not sure Reagan would have signed it. See also, Tom Cizauskas’ What will President Jimmy Carter be remembered for? and KegWorks’ How Jimmy Carter Sparked the Craft Beer Revolution.

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And finally, here’s Michael Jackson, in an 2004 interview, talking about the importance of Carter signing the homebrewing bill into law.

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Jimmy Carter, by Sean Marlin McKinney.

Beer Birthday: John Pinkerton

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Today is also the 47th birthday of John Pinkerton, founder and brewmaster of Moon River Brewing in Savannah, Georgia. John is also involved in Beer America TV. He also brews some terrific beers and is great fun to drink a beer or three with. Join me in wishing John a very happy birthday.

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At All About Beer’s “World Beer Festival” in Durham, North Carolina in 2008.

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John getting showered with hops at the “Me So Hoppy Lupulin Slam” at the Falling Rock during GABF in 2005.

Beer Birthday: Bob Townsend

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Today is also the birthday of Atlanta Journal-Constitution beer columnist Bob Townsend. Although he wouldn’t tell me how old he is when I met him in Boston several years ago, I suspect it’s because he’s even older than me. Regardless, we hit it off immediately; kindred souls, to be sure, and have since traveled together on numerous press junkets. Join me in wishing Bob a very happy birthday.

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Judging the finals of the Longshot homebrew competition in 2009, with Tony Forder on the left, Bob in the middle and me at the far end.

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After judging the finals for the Longshot Homebrew Competition in Boston. From left: Jason Alstrom (from Beer Advocate), Tony Forder (from Ale Street News), Bob, Jim Koch (founder of the Boston Beer Co.), yours truly, Julie Johnson (from All About Beer magazine), and Todd Alstrom (also from Beer Advocate).

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Derek Buono (from Beer: The Magazine) and Bob during a press junket in Belgium a couple of years ago.

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At Bosteels during the same Belgian trip. Bob is in the back mid-way on the right.

Republic Of Georgia Beer

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Today in 1991, Georgia gained their Independence from the USSR.

Republic of Georgia
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Georgia Breweries

Georgia Brewery Guides

Other Guides

Guild: None Known

National Regulatory Agency: None

Beverage Alcohol Labeling Requirements: Not Known

Drunk Driving Laws: BAC 0.03% or 0.02%

Georgia

  • Full Name: Republic of Georgia
  • Location: Southwestern Asia, bordering the Black Sea, between Turkey and Russia, with a sliver of land north of the Caucasus extending into Europe
  • Government Type: Republic
  • Language: Georgian (official) 71%, Russian 9%, Armenian 7%, Azeri 6%, other 7%
  • Religion(s): Orthodox Christian (official) 83.9%, Muslim 9.9%, Armenian-Gregorian 3.9%, Catholic 0.8%, other 0.8%, none 0.7%
  • Capital: Tbilisi
  • Population: 4,570,934; 123rd
  • Area: 69,700 sq km, 121st
  • Comparative Area: Slightly smaller than South Carolina
  • National Food: Khachapuri, Khinkali
  • National Symbols: Five red crosses, Kartlis Deda
  • Affiliations: UN, Commonwealth of Independent States
  • Independence: From the USSR, April 9, 1991 / From Soviet Russia, May 26, 1918

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  • Alcohol Legal: Yes
  • Minimum Drinking Age: 16
  • BAC: 0.03%
  • Label Requirements: N/A
  • Number of Breweries: 17

GeorgiaPNew-10Lari-2002-donatedsrb_f

  • How to Say “Beer”: ლუდი
  • How to Order a Beer: N/A
  • How to Say “Cheers”: Gagimardschoss / Gaumardschoss
  • Toasting Etiquette: N/A

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Alcohol Consumption By Type:

  • Beer: 18%
  • Wine: 20%
  • Spirits: 62%
  • Other: <1%

Alcohol Consumption Per Capita (in litres):

  • Recorded: 3.90
  • Unrecorded: 2.50
  • Total: 6.40
  • Beer: 0.76

WHO Alcohol Data:

  • Per Capita Consumption: 3.9 litres
  • Alcohol Consumption Trend: Stable
  • Excise Taxes: Yes
  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Sales Restrictions: Places
  • Advertising Restrictions: Yes
  • Sponsorship/Promotional Restrictions: Yes

Patterns of Drinking Score: 2

Prohibition: None

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Georgia Beer

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Today in 1788, Georgia became the 4th state.

Georgia

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Georgia Breweries

Georgia Brewery Guides

Guild: Georgia Brewers Guild [No website.]

State Agency: Georgia Alcohol and Tobacco Division

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  • Capital: Atlanta
  • Largest Cities: Atlanta, August, Columbus, Savannah, Athens
  • Population: 8,186,453; 10th
  • Area: 59441 sq.mi., 24th
  • Nickname: The Peach State
  • Statehood: 4th, January 2, 1788

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  • Alcohol Legalized: May 23, 1935
  • Number of Breweries: 22
  • Rank: 23rd
  • Beer Production: 5,596,058
  • Production Rank: 10th
  • Beer Per Capita: 16.4 Gallons

Package Mix:

  • Bottles: 37.8%
  • Cans: 55.6%
  • Kegs: 6.5%

Beer Taxes:

  • Per Gallon: $0.48
  • Per Case: $1.08
  • Tax Per Barrel (24/12 Case): $14.88
  • Draught Tax Per Barrel (in Kegs): $10.00

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Economic Impact (2008):

  • From Brewing: $1,300,853,614
  • Direct Impact: $2,699,329,013
  • Supplier Impact: $2,293,594,311
  • Induced Economic Impact: $1,398,800,452
  • Total Impact: $6,391,723,776

Legal Restrictions:

  • Control State: No
  • Sale Hours: Hours of sale determined by county. No alcohol sales on Sunday (although restaurant/bar sales allowed). No alcohol sales on Christmas Day.
  • Grocery Store Sales: Yes
  • Notes: ABV > 14% ABV cap on beer
    No Sunday off-premises sales

    In general, one may not be drunk in public. Though there is no state law prohibiting drinking in public, most municipal corporations and political subdivisions limit the possession of open containers of alcohol to private property, with one notable exception being Savannah. Public drunkenness is only warranted when one is drunk in public and his acts are either loud or disorderly.

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Data complied, in part, from the Beer Institute’s Brewer’s Almanac 2010, Beer Serves America, the Brewers Association, Wikipedia and my World Factbook. If you see I’m missing a brewery link, please be so kind as to drop me a note or simply comment on this post. Thanks.

For the remaining states, see Brewing Links: United States.