Today is Pete Reid’s 52nd birthday. Pete is the publisher of Modern Brewery Age. I first met Pete a number of years ago at a Craft Brewers Conference but finally got to know him much better during a trip to Bavaria a few years back, where the two of us took a side trip to Salzburg to visit the Austrian Trumer Brauerei. Join me in wishing Pete a very happy birthday.
Today is John Mallett’s 51st birthday, John is the production manager at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a post he’s held since 2001. John has a great sense of humor and I recall a particularly side-splitting kvetching evening-long conversation with him and Fal Allen at CBC in San Diego a number of years ago (not the most recent one) and a couple of years we judged together in Japan, which was great fun. In addition, John also recently published the Brewers’ Publications book on Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse. John me in wishing John a very happy birthday.
If you’d like to see John wearing lederhosen, click here.
Today is the 57th birthday of brewing legend, Larry Bell, the iconoclastic owner of Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Last year, Larry was on a quest to attend every Chicago Cubs home game. This year, there’s the Bell’s 30th Anniversary. Bell’s doesn’t often get the credit it deserves for being the spark for craft beer in the midwest, having started in 1985, well before almost everybody else inside the two coasts. Join me in wishing Larry a very happy birthday.
Larry with Alan Sprints, from Hair of the Dog at the Full Sail Smoker during the Oregon Brewers Festival a few years ago.
Today is also the birthday of Brian Stechschulte, former executive director of the San Francisco Brewers Guild, who’s recently started working for Speakeasy Ales & Lagers as their Public Relations & Media Director. I’m just guessing at Brian’s age, but by my reckoning he’s got to be about 38 this year. In addition to his paying work with the guild and SF Beer Week, he also writes online at All Over Beer and Bygone Beer. Brian’s a terrific ambassador for beer and a great addition to the industry now that’s a working stiff. I think of him as a kindred spirit. Please join me in wishing Brian a very happy birthday.
Oskar Blues, makers of Dale’s Pale Ale and other canned beers, has announced acquisition of the Perrin Brewing Co. of Comstock Park, Michigan (near Grand Rapids). MLive is reporting the deal, and that as part of it, Keith Klopcic, who formerly worked with nearby West Side Beer Distributing, becomes the new president at Perrin Brewing Co., replacing founder and former brewery head Randy Perrin. According to the article, “financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.” I love this quote: “Other than that, it’s the same company,” said Klopcic. “Nothing changes.” Not to second guess the deal, especially since I don’t personally know the parties involved (apart from Dale Katechis from Oskar Blues), but saying nothing changes when a brewery head and (I presume) a founder leaves a company when it’s sold doesn’t strike me as a particularly honest assessment.
Dan Perrin and Jarred Sper will continue running the brewery alongside production manager and head brewer John Stewart and his team. Sper, who will be vice president of sales and marketing at Oskar Blues-owned Perrin, said the brewery is very excited by the acquisition deal.
According to MLive, here’s what Dale had to say:
In a statement, Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis called the deal “a radical thing.”
“We at Oskar Blues love the Michigan craft beer scene and what the guys at Perrin are doing,” Katechis said. “We feel that Perrin and Oskar Blues have the same mindset toward the craft industry and this partnership will allow us to share information and innovative ideas with one another.”
In December, the breweries teamed up on a lager called “Cornlaboration” that was sold only in Michigan, a state in which Oskar Blues began distributing in 2013.
Until Oskar Blues’ canned beer sales outstripped their original brewpub, they were considered one of the country’s largest brewpubs, so it’s interesting to see them reach a point where they’re acquiring additional brands and another brewery.
Today is Fred Bueltmann’s 46th birthday. Fred is a partner in New Holland Brewing, and works their sales and distribution side. He’s also a self-styled Beervangelist and will soon be publishing the “Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy,” which was successfully funded on Kickstarter. I’ve met Fred several times over the years but got to know him a lot better at GABF a couple of years ago, when it seemed like we judged together on every other session, and had a marvelous time in between rounds. Join me in wishing Fred a very happy birthday.
With Carolyn Smagalski at Wynkoop during GABF last year. (“borrowed” from her Facebook page, thanks Carolyn).
There was a news item a few days ago that recently a fifth grade teacher in Michigan offered students non-alcoholic beer — O’Douls — as part of “a lesson on colonial times,” with the intention to “represent ale common in the 1700s and consumed because of the scarcity of clean water.” Sounds harmless enough. No students were forced to try it, but they had the opportunity to sample it if they wished to. What could go wrong?
What the teacher didn’t know is that apparently it’s actually illegal to give a minor in Michigan a non-alcoholic beer. The law was passed back in the 1950s, when people were even nuttier about alcohol than they are today, if that’s possible, but Michigan did pass a law making it illegal for minors to drink non-alcoholic beer. Here’s the entirety of the law:
THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE (EXCERPT)
Act 328 of 1931
750.28 Cereal beverage with alcoholic content; furnishing to minors, penalty.
Any person who shall sell, give or furnish to a minor, except upon authority of and pursuant to a prescription of a duly licensed physician, any cereal beverage of any alcoholic content under the name of “near beer”, or “brew”, or “bru”, or any other name which is capable of conveying the impression to the purchaser that the beverage has an alcoholic content, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
History: Add. 1957, Act 283, Eff. Sept. 27, 1957
How Kafkaesque. The state defines what non-alcoholic means then still makes it illegal even if it’s within their own definition, and if it’s 0.5% or below, Michigan state’s Liquor Control Commission doesn’t even regulate it. So alcohol in cough syrup. No problem. Non-alcoholic wine? Go for it. A cereal beverage? Heavens no. That’s going too far.
And perhaps more curious, the law can be read to suggest that what’s at issue is giving the “impression” that the drink has alcohol in it, not that it really does. Because it seems like you could create a non-alcoholic beer within the legal definition but call it something random, like “Barley Pop” or “Brown Cow” and not be in violation of this law if you gave some to your children. The name seems more important than the alcoholic content. Why would that be the case?
When I was a kid, the only reason near beer existed was for kids. No sane adult would drink it. My first taste of beer was from a can of near beer that my parents bought for me when I expressed interest in trying beer, which was the case for some of my friends, too. It was horrible. I think that may have been the point, I don’t know.
The Flint Journal reports that the school sent letters home to parents after they discovered the “incident” but according to school district Superintendent Ed Koledo. “Nobody complained to the teacher, principal or me,” or to the police, and no disciplinary measures were taken against the teacher. Despite nobody being upset in the least, you’d think a nuclear blast had gone off, the way they talk about it.
“We talked to the teacher and said this was an inappropriate choice,” Koledo said. “There were a lot better choices to represent a colonial-era drink than what was chosen here.”
Really, what would have been a better choice to represent what the vast majority of people drank during the colonial era? And he says “a lot of better choices.” A lot? Really? I can’t wait to see the list.
“I know there was no intent to expose anyone to harm, just poor thought in this situation.”
Seriously, “poor thought?” It’s non-alcoholic beer for chrissakes, and a few kids had a sip of it in a controlled environment, not a back alley clutching a paper bag. And it was a sip. What is a sip? A teaspoon? Half an ounce? Oh, the horror.
Linden schools are drug and alcohol-free zones and Koledo said he did not know if O’Doul’s beer would constitute a violation.
Again, are we really going to split hairs because it has 0.5% alcohol (or less) in it? So is cough medicine allowed on campus? I’m pretty sure caffeine can be considered a drug, so I hope they’re going to remove the coffee maker from the teacher’s lounge. Up until the 1970s, schools in Belgium served students table beer every day.
So how exactly did this end up being a news story?