Beer Institute Counts 3,699 American Breweries

beer-institute
The Beer Institute recently announced a new, much higher, total number of breweries operating in the U.S. using a different method of calculation. While the Brewers Association looks at each company to count the number of breweries, the Beer Institute took a different approach. They instead looked at each individual working brewery, so while before a company with two separate breweries would be counted as one brewery, the new total sees two working breweries and counts each one. Using that method, there are nearly 3,700 licensed brewers making beer for thirsty Americans. In 2013, 948 new permits were issued to companies opening breweries, increasing the total number by nearly one-quarter. The majority of the new breweries opened last year were brewpubs.

The breakdown by state reveals that, no surprise, California has more breweries than any other state, by a wide margin. The next closest state, Washington, has half as many breweries. In fact, just four states — California, Washington, Colorado and Oregon — accounts for one-third of all breweries in the United States.”

bi-state-breweries-2014
According to the Beer Institute:

“We have tracked the industry since our preceding trade association was first founded in 1862, and there’s a story in these numbers. Beer is constantly evolving in the U.S., with more small brewers than ever before, more brands being introduced by national brewers and growing interest in imports,” said Chris Thorne, vice president of communications at the Beer Institute.

“There was a long period of consolidation in the industry, but during that same period, beer became the most popular drink in America. Today we’re seeing more small brewers than ever before. But consumers are also increasingly less loyal to beer, and that is a challenge for every brewer of any size,” Thorne added.

bi-active-breweries-2014

Why Some Drunks Fight

cockfight
You’ve undoubtedly seen a belligerent drunk at some point in your life. Perhaps you’ve even been one. There are some people who seemingly turn angry when they drink. Some of them get into fights, maybe start one in a bar, the classic mythical bar fight where chairs start flying and everybody joins in because everyone who drinks is looking for a fight, right? Watch almost any western movie to see this in action. It’s so taken for granted, it’s a cliche. I’m sure bar fights occur, but honestly I’ve never seen a full on fight like you see in the movies. And I’ve been to more bars in my lifetime than the average person, I’d warrant. There are apparently people who become angry after a few too many drinks. And some of them probably do start a fight. There are certainly people like this, and I’ve always thought of them simply as “bad drunks.”

Thomas-after-the-poker-game

My stepfather was one. He turned mean on a bender, and he was violent and very, very scary, especially to a young sheltered suburban punk like me, ages 5 to 15 or so. But I quickly figured out all on my own that it wasn’t the alcohol that made him so belligerent. He was already that way, thanks to his own trials and tribulations growing up. Not to mention he was raised in a place/culture/family/time when/where not only weren’t men supposed to show their feelings, they weren’t supposed to actually have any. That’s not an excuse, just a fact. He walked around seething, all bottled up, and used alcohol to release his demons. It seemed to help him, of course, but it was devastating to anyone around him, especially me and my mother, who was too co-dependent to do anything about it. But the next morning, the relief he’d felt was all too brief, and the pressure would start building again to its next inevitable violent conclusion; a day, a week or even a month later.

You’d think after such unpleasant experiences that I might have sworn off alcohol entirely. But as I said, I knew it wasn’t the alcohol that made him that way. It was people and society who were convinced and believed that alcohol made him angry that allowed him to continue to be a nasty drunk, and not have to take any responsibility for his actions. It was just the alcohol, they’d say. Prohibitionists today continue this lie, and it’s one of things I so hate about them, by claiming it’s the alcohol that causes harm. But it’s not. And every time they spout that meme I wonder how many more kids are made to suffer by spouses and family and a community who listen to them, and do honestly believe that were it not for the drinking, Dad would be fine, a model citizen.

But look around you. Not everybody who drinks turns angry. In fact, most don’t. That’s how I know it’s not the alcohol. Because I can get rip-roaring drunk, and never become angry. Believe me I’ve tried, but it never happens. I get more talkative, if that’s possible, and more philosophical and sleepy. And most people I know react similarly, at least insofar as they don’t start a bar fight every time they take a drink. That’s also my biggest problem with AA and similar programs that preach that people are powerless, in effect not responsible. They often claim otherwise, but turning the superhero credo on its head; with great powerless comes a great ability to shirk responsibility for one’s actions. And so it’s the alcohol that ends up with the blame, not the person who abused it. Why society allows that is apparently complicated and is something I frankly don’t completely understand.

A German study published late last year in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, entitled Alcohol-Related Aggression — Social and Neurobiological Factors sought to examine “Alcohol-related aggression and violence” and begins by noting that “nearly one in three violent acts in Germany was committed under the influence of alcohol (31.8%).” But that also means that over two-thirds of violent acts are committed by people who were not drinking or drunk. Maybe there are other factors we should be looking at as to why people are violent? And it also doesn’t answer the question of how many violent acts were prevented because someone had a drink after a tough day and that relaxed and calmed them.

Curiously, when reported on here in the U.S., the reference to this being a German statistic was removed, making it a much broader, universal statement. For example, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico, Science Daily and Medical News Today (MNT) all begin their coverage with the same sentence. “One-third of all acts of violence are perpetrated under the influence of alcohol.” So first of all, it was actually less than one-third and secondly, that statistic was confined to Germany. Not exactly an auspicious beginning for there to be two errors in the very first sentence. The MNT headline itself is misleading, stating that “Social and neurobiological factors linked to alcohol-related aggression,” while the study didn’t confirm a link so much as examine the “causes of alcohol-related aggression.” But by using that headline, it changes the tone of how you read the entire article.

Emily-Smith-vertigo-bar-fight

But that just seems like prohibitionist interests bending it to their purposes, because the study itself is interesting, and worth a read. The whole article is online, and there’s also a pdf you can download. It’s not so much a scientific study but a survey, or review, of all of the previous studies and literature about alcohol-induced aggression. In the abstract, they describe their process as follows.

In this review, based on a selective search for pertinent literature in PubMed, we analyze and summarize information from original articles, reviews, and book chapters about alcohol and aggression and discuss the neurobiological basis of aggressive behavior.

What they found was that “[o]nly a minority of persons who drink alcohol become aggressive,” which is what we all know. There appears to be evidence that “neurobiological factors” can account for the aggression, but that possibly more importantly, so can “personal expectations of the effects of alcohol, on prior experience of violent conflicts, and on the environmental conditions of early childhood, especially social exclusion and discrimination.”

They cite the World Health Organization and several other studies, and meta-studies, that indicate how many crimes, many of them violent, are committed by drunk people. But for many, if not most, of these, they specifically cite “acute alcohol intoxication” which is not the same thing as having a few beers, drinking responsibly in moderation. In addition, it’s also worse for people with “chronic alcohol consumption and alcohol dependence” issues. So again, this is a subset of all drinkers. But most American prohibitionist groups lump everybody who drinks together into one group, insisting all drinking is bad and leads to all sorts of trouble and mischief, taking a simplistic approach that treats all drinkers the same. But the Germans found things aren’t so simple.

Both clinical observations and scientific data have shown that the manifestation of alcohol-related aggression is by no means uniform. Rather, it is becoming clear that individual differences play a key role. In addition, more recent models are moving away from single-factor causes and towards multifactorial sets of conditions.

So what are the various factors that contribute to someone drinking and turning violent? They identify four.

  • Executive functions such as the control and inhibition of ongoing behavior
  • Information processing
  • Attentional control
  • Individual differences in expectation of the effect of alcohol consumption (e.g. “Alcohol makes me aggressive.”)

They also add to that list, Social learning, described as “experiences with friends or relatives who exhibit aggressive behavior under the influence of alcohol, [and] play a key role in the onset of alcohol-related aggression.”

But looking through the entire survey, what seems clear is that it’s the “expectations of effect” that has the most influence. And that brings us back to everyday experience. People believe that they can act differently under the influence of alcohol, and so they do. Society also expects that people will act differently under the influence of alcohol and so they don’t impose social penalties or ostracize that behavior. In many cases, it’s not just tolerated and excused but forgiven, and therefore enabled. By letting drunks essentially get away with bad behavior, it leads to a society that creates incentives for acting badly. That’s why I hate bad drunks so much. They ruin it for the rest of us. Bad drunks are what prohibitionists believe we all become when we have a beer, any amount of beer, despite the massive evidence to the contrary.

Other “individual factors” they identified “with an increased probability of alcohol-induced aggression” include:

  • Sex (men have a higher risk of reacting aggressively following acute alcohol consumption)
  • Personality traits such as sensation-seeking
  • High underlying irritability
  • Lack of empathy

They add. “Maladaptive reasons for drinking, such as drinking as a coping mechanism, and the assumption that aggression is an acceptable form of social interaction, also play a major role.”

So essentially, they’re saying it’s personality-driven, which has been my experience, as well. If you have a propensity to act aggressively toward women, alcohol will give you the excuse to act that out. If you’re seeking sensational experiences, alcohol will give you the excuse to act that out. If you’re already irritable or angry, alcohol will give you the excuse to act more violently and aggressive. If you already lack empathy, alcohol will give you the excuse to care about other people even less than you normally do. And as long as that’s “an acceptable form of social interaction,” then people will continue to do so because they can use getting drunk as an excuse to be a douchebag.

bar_fight_by_thanostsilis

In the conclusion they sum this up. “Individuals who find it difficult to inhibit their behavior and delay gratification and who have problems enduring unpleasant feelings seem to become aggressive more frequently after consuming alcohol.” And this happens even more often to people who are “alcohol-dependent” but curiously is “not associated with alcohol dependence, including chronic alcohol dependence, per se.” I can’t help but think that’s because in such cases being drunk is used as the excuse to act badly, knowing that society — friends, family, etc. — will let them get away with it because they too have the expectation that the alcohol is causing them to behave badly, and that they shouldn’t, or can’t, be held responsible for their actions.

As this article makes clear, while there are genetic and neurobiological factors that in some people can lead to abusing alcohol, the majority of the problem stems from social conventions. Because the neurobiological causes can be identified, dealt with and treated. The social structures that allow people to use getting drunk as an excuse for bad behavior is a lot harder to change, because it’s so well-rooted in how our society functions. And it doesn’t help that addiction organizations and medical groups that treat this problem also enable this behavior by accepting it as dogma. And it doesn’t help that prohibitionist groups believe it, too, insisting that it’s the alcohol that’s causing the harm, not the individuals using, or abusing, it. By targeting the product that some people are abusing, instead of those people, they’re essentially allowing and even making the conditions more attractive to anyone using alcohol to continue using that as their excuse. After all, they must think, “I can’t be responsible for acting like an asshole, I was drunk. The booze made me do it, I couldn’t help myself.” And that, I think, is why some drunks fight. Because we as a society let them.

We don’t need tougher laws, or more police, or roadside checkpoints, or more prohibitionist propaganda. If everybody with a friend or family member who’s a bad drunk stopped letting them get away with it, this problem would be substantially reduced, whittled down to the people physically unable to control themselves. And we could then get those people the help they need. I say don’t tolerate bad drunks, let them know you don’t accept alcohol as an excuse for their bad behavior. They’ll either stop, or they’ll figure out they really do have a health problem that needs addressing. Social pressure and the threat of ostracization are usually a much more effective method of changing behaviors.

Drinking should be about the enjoyment of life, and responsible, moderate consumption should enhance what’s good in our lives already. Whether it’s improving a meal, conversation with friends at a pub, or celebrating a holiday or personal achievement, beer can heighten and complement those experiences, from the ordinary to the very special. That’s the goal of beer with flavor, that people drink less, but better. Who could fight with that?

Why Big Beer Is Going Flat

liquor
The recent news that MillerCoors a bourbon-like lager called “Miller Fortune” is not as unexpected as many people seem to think. In fact it, and some of the reasons behind the new beer, were known last year. For example, AdAge had an article in September of 2013, Draft Dodging: Why Big Beer Is Going Flat, and subtitled “And What Industry Giants Are Doing to Get Their Buzz Black.” The article was in part a roundup of talk at the NBWA meeting earlier that month in Las Vegas, and discussed the many challenges big beer was facing as overall beer sales were falling.

whatll-it-be

Check out the section near the end of the piece entitled “Liquor is Winning” which provides an overview of reasons that spirits are taking market share from beer. The mega beer brands were already then plotting their next move “with higher-alcohol extensions targeting nighttime drinking occasions.” They went on to mention that “MillerCoors next year will launch Miller Fortune at 6.9% alcohol by volume (compared with 4.2% for most light beers), following the 2012 launch of Bud Light Platinum, which checks in at 6%.” Now that it’s here, we’re closer to answering the question posed by that article. “Will these strategies bring the sexy back to beer?” Back in September they said it was “too soon to tell,” but I think we’ll soon know. What do you think? Is this going to change big beer’s fortunes?

The Secret Life Of The American Beer Buyer

survey-analytics
Here’s an interesting survey that was just released by Survey Analytics entitled the The Secret Life Of The American Beer Buyer. They describe themselves as “an enterprise grade research platform that provides companies with feedback in over 30 industries.” Throughout the results of their “online consumer survey to capture sentiment on beer preference and purchasing habits,” they keep going back and forth between the terms “beer” and “craft beer” which seems to muddy the results somewhat. And given that results are rife with mass-produced big brewer brands I have to question the way the survey was conducted and whether it was meant to be beer or craft beer. It suggests a certain sloppiness or lack of understanding. It also points out how useless the distinction can be in practice, too. But here’s some of what the survey revealed.

  • Consumers average spend on beer annually is $1,270.00. That total amounts to about 115 six-packs at $10.99 each — or 211 pints at $6.00 a piece.
  • California brews the best beer said 19% of survey respondents. 15% of the survey respondents were from the Sunshine State.
  • Price isn’t the deciding factor for beer — only 5% of consumers take price into account when selecting a beer to purchase.
  • Advertising for beer brands is more important than ever. 33% of consumers say they associate their favorite beer brand with captivating advertising.
  • Home brewing trends continue to grow. 14% of respondents have brewed and enjoyed their own beer at home while 68% are interested in brewing lessons.

On their blog, they also created an infographic with some of the results.

craft-beer-survey-2014

And their press release offers additional insight into the findings:

Average consumer spends more than $1,200 a year on beer
Every year consumers shell out an average of $1,270 on beer. The highest reported amount was $10,000 while the lowest was just $100. Twenty-two percent of consumers buy and drink beer two to three times a week while 20 percent imbibe just once a week and 9 percent pop open a bottle more than five times per week.

Budweiser is a polarizing brand
The King of Beers managed to top the charts in both the best and worst brands of beer. Fifty-one percent of people rated it as their favorite while 46 percent named it their least favorite. The other brands that rounded out the best list: Coors (13 percent), Corona (12 percent) and Stella (10 percent). As for taste preferences, 33 percent of consumers prefer the taste of ale and 24 percent would rather have a lager.

Only 5 percent of consumers use price to determine favorite breweries
Surprisingly, a very small percentage used cost as the deciding factor for what beer they love most. What did they base their favorite brand on? Who has the best ads (32 percent), where the beer is brewed (29 percent) and what style of beer the brand makes (22 percent).

Craft beer and home-brewing trends continue to grow
Consumers don’t want to buy just any beer off the shelf — they want to invest time in creating their own brew or in learning about small microbreweries. Fourteen percent of people surveyed had brewed their own beer at home and enjoyed it while 68 percent are interested in taking craft brewing lessons from their favorite craft brands such as Dogfish Head and Breckenridge Brewery. What state shines as the best at brewing craft beer? Nineteen percent say California.

In addition, they created a couple of word clouds based on respondents most and least favorite beer brands.

Tell Us Your Favorite Beer Brand

brands-favorite-2014

Tell Us Your Least Favorite Beer Brand

brands-worst-2014

What Big Alcohol Will Never Admit

dna
Okay, here’s yet another piece of legerdemain by the Alcohol Justice watchdogs supposedly keeping us in the alcohol business honest. I’ve been seeing this missive over the past week or so (since they tweet it every single day) that on its face seems damning.

AJ-never-admit

Here’s what they accuse us of. “Big Alcohol will never admit #1 http://bit.ly/1ddQYTy Young adults damage DNA with weekend alcohol consumption.” Oh, no! What won’t big alcohol admit? Good question, and since that’s the charge leveled at us, you’d think it would be clear what it is we supposedly keep denying. But clicking on the link takes you to a story on MNT — Medical News today — entitled Young adults ‘damage DNA’ with weekend alcohol consumption. The article is about a study done at the Autonomous University of Nayarit in Mexico that resulted in a article in the journal Alcohol, although curiously no link is provided to the original study. The study was entitled “Oxidative damage in young alcohol drinkers: A preliminary study,” and you can read the abstract online.

But I think what’s more important is that claim by Alcohol Justice (AJ) that we’ll “never admit #1.” So take a look at the link, Young adults ‘damage DNA’ with weekend alcohol consumption. What the hell is “#1?” It would appear to be the first claim made in the article, since there are two sub-headings, which is “Oxidative damage caused by alcohol consumption.” But the second part of AJ’s tweet is “Young adults damage DNA with weekend alcohol consumption,” and the title of the article’s second subheading is “Signs of DNA damage through alcohol consumption,” which seems closer to what AJ is claiming. But I don’t think I’m being too difficult in thinking that if you’re going to claim we’re burying our heads in the sand and not admitting some horror that you make that accusation reasonably clear.

But okay, they’re not able to communicate clearly. So let’s assume it’s the DNA section they’re referring to. Here’s what it says.

An additional experiment, called the comet test, was conducted to see whether the participants’ DNA was also affected by alcohol consumption. This involved taking out the nucleus of lymphocytic cells in the blood and putting it through electrophoresis.

The researchers explain that if the cells are faulty and DNA is damaged, it causes a “halo” in the electrophoresis, called “the comet tail.”

The experiment revealed that the group who consumed alcohol showed significantly bigger comet tails in the electrophoresis, compared with the group that did not drink alcohol.

In detail, 8% of cells were damaged in the control group, but 44% were damaged in the drinking group. This means the drinking group had 5.3 times more damage to their cells.

But here’s the kicker, in the final sentence of that section. “However, the investigators say that they were unable to confirm there was extensive damage to the DNA, as the comet tail was less than 20 nanometers. But the investigators say their findings still raise concern.” So us evil alcohol folks won’t admit this, but the researchers themselves say they can’t conclusively state what’s going on or even if there’s really “extensive damage to the DNA.”

Another report about this study from Basque Research, makes the point even more clearly.

To be able to confirm the existence of considerable damage to the DNA, the comet tail must exceed 20 nm, and that was not the case. “Fortunately,” the researcher pointed out, “but the fact is, there should not have been any damage at all because they had not been consuming alcohol for very long, they had not been exposed in a chronic way.” The means by which alcohol manages to alter DNA is not yet known.

Regardless of which part of this study AJ is attacking us with, the fact is, as is clear in the title of the study, Oxidative damage in young alcohol drinkers: A preliminary study, this is a preliminary study. And throughout it the study’s authors say this is the first study of its kind to look at this and that more research is necessary.

But we’re still the bad guys because we apparently won’t admit this, even though we’ve never been asked, as far as I know. Did AJ send letter to big alcohol, and they didn’t answer? So instead they turned to twitter to shame them?

This is what pisses me off about Alcohol Justice. They make this accusation that implies that the alcohol industry is doing something wrong, that we’re immoral and damaging children wantonly and maliciously. It’s insulting. And it’s untrue. It’s dishonest, the way the accusation is made. I don’t think they care that it’s so vague and unclear, or that upon closer examination it’s not even true. People just see the headline, assume it’s correct, and the damage is done. It may be effective propaganda, but how can an organization who claims their mission is to keep the alcohol industry honest use such incredibly misleading and dishonest tactics? By automatically painting us as the bad guys for refusing to admit some unknown and vague harm that no sane person would, it’s just an out and out attack.

This is despite the fact that this is about people under 21 drinking, something that should not be happening, and for which the people who make alcohol are not responsible. I personally believe it would be less of a problem if the minimum age was lowered to 18, because then the drinking would be out in the open, not driven underground, where abuse and problems aren’t addressed. That’s also the point of view of the Amethyst Initiative, an organization of over 130 heads of American colleges and universities advocating for lowering the drinking age.

But in the end, how can an honest dialogue be even possible when the approach so often taken by prohibitionist organizations is to accuse and attack. That doesn’t do anybody any good. But I doubt that Alcohol Justice will ever admit that.

Prohibitionists Poisoning Minds With Poison Beer

alcohol-justice-new
The good folks at Alcohol Justice (AJ) really know where my goat is tied (as an old friend used to say) because they sure know how to piss me off. They tweeted out this morning about a CDC Report on Alcohol and Public Health: Alcohol-Related Disease Impact with the following. “In the US, what kills 88,000 people and causes $223 billion in harm annually?” It’s their usual bullshit meme about how alcohol, not people, kills and harms. But perhaps most offensive is the accompanying photo, showing beer as poison.

AJ-poison-tweet

I know it was just for effect, but how utterly obnoxious. The most popular alcoholic beverage worldwide, and third most popular of all beverages, is poisonous? Shouldn’t we all be dead right now, then? That’s a tad extreme, and typically untruthful, especially considering that throughout history had it not been for the safer-than-water drink many of our ancestors would have perished and who knows how many of the folks working at Alcohol Justice might not even be here today were it not for beer. I guess that was then, and this is now, and they’re certainly an ungrateful bunch, unable to say a kind word about anything to do with alcohol. It’s also a slap in the face to the literally millions of people across the globe who make, sell and serve beer, and other alcoholic beverages. But insulting us is part and parcel of their mission, and is never given a second thought, as far as I can tell.

But lest I give them too much credit for creativity, it wasn’t even their photo, but was, presumably, bought from Colourbox, a company selling stock photographs. But even they knew the photo was about the “dangers of alcoholism” and not about beer being poison, which is the sense in which AJ is clearly using it.
Alcoholism Is Deadly

But let’s get back to the content, first that 88,000 people are killed by alcohol. The CDC report and the accompanying chart is entitled “Alcohol-Attributable Deaths Due to Excessive Alcohol Use” (my emphasis), a qualifier conveniently left off by AJ.

The chart itself is divided into two parts, chronic and acute “causes.” Chronic is essentially a laundry list of diseases or illnesses that people presumably died of who also drank. But saying that alcohol is the single and direct cause of almost all of those is utterly absurd. There are so many factors that would account for any one of those that it’s mind-boggling that they could print that with a straight face. Some, maybe most, were no doubt exacerbated by the overuse of alcohol, but certainly there would have been additional factors, like genetics, age, other health issues, etcetera, that would have contributed to an individual contracting a specific ailment. Alcohol is not necessarily the smoking gun, but one of perhaps many factors that would have contributed.

But the acute “causes” are even more preposterous, if that’s possible, as they include such causes as “Air-space transport, Drowning, Fall injuries, Firearm injuries, Hypothermia, Suicide and Water transport,” to name a few. And those are the majority of the deaths they attribute to excessive alcohol use. Take hypothermia; if you get so drunk that you’re too foolish to come in out of the cold, it wasn’t the alcohol that did you in, it was stupidity. And suicide? The alcohol may have given you the courage to go through with it, but I can all but guarantee there were many more root causes that led someone to contemplate taking their own life, and those are far more complicated than excessive drinking.

Curiously, the CDC also has compiled a list of facts about Deaths and Mortality. Alcohol is not even listed among the top ten causes of death in the U.S. Heart disease is number one, although I must have missed the calls to ban red meat and other causes of heart problems.

The number of Americans who pass away each year is around 2,468,435, making even the almost 88,000 skewed figure a mere 3.5% of the total. But if they had used the nearly 88,000 figure, it would have been fifth. The reason it’s not there is because that number is made up of a number of different causes. Even though they refer to it as “attributable,” those are things that may contribute, along with many other factors, but they’re not necessarily the direct cause itself. The CDC report makes that clear if you take the time to look at it. Alcohol Justice does not, and uses it as alarmist propaganda.

If you switch the view of the CDC report from “Excessive Alcohol Use” to “All Alcohol Use” the number actually goes up to 106,434. So why didn’t AJ use that number since it makes the problem seem even more dire? Well, the chart toward the bottom also factors in “Beneficial Effects,” and claims positive benefits to 26,284. That gives all alcohol use a net total of 80,150, which is actually lower than the number attributable to excessive drinking. So even with the questionable numbers and reasoning, they did go with the worst numbers, of course.

As for the second number, the “$223 billion in harm,” that’s not addressed or even mentioned in the CDC report, so I think it’s safe to assume that they, as usual, just made it up. It’s probably taken from some other bullshit propaganda piece, but there’s no link to it in the tweet, so we’re left guessing, at least until the next missive from the watchdog sheriff.

Before the angry comments inevitably pile up, I’m not making light of death, any death. I fear death as much as the next person, increasingly so as I inch closer toward that light at the end of this tunnel we call life. But how, and why, people die and perhaps more importantly, how they lived, cannot be reduced to a balance sheet. It’s not a matter of tallying the good and bad we’ve done to ourselves and others, and assigning a number. Life is far more complex and complicated. So is death. Nobody’s picking up a bottle of beer and seeing a skull and crossbones on it. To put one there ignores the myriad positives that alcohol brings to most people’s lives, how it enhances and enriches them. Those intangible benefits are almost unquantifiable, although we all know they exist. It’s why beer and alcohol have been an integral part of civilization since the very beginning of recorded history. That there is a small minority of individuals who are unable or unwilling to control themselves with alcohol is not a reason to dismiss the overwhelming majority of us who can, logic apparently utterly lost on the prohibitionists.

One of the more popular toasts when drinking is L’Chiam, which in hebrew means “to life.” And that, I think, is what we drink to each and every time we raise a glass of beer to our lips. To life!

Number Of Breweries In America Reaches 2700

ba
The Brewers Association released preliminary numbers for how many operating breweries there were in the United States as of the end of last year. That number, the highest since America’s peak in the 1870s, was 2,722. That’s nearly 400 more than at the end of 2012. Those are broken down as follows.

  • Regional breweries: 120
  • Microbreweries: 1376
  • Brewpubs: 1202
  • Large breweries: 24
  • Total: 2,722

From the press release:

98% of these breweries were small and independent craft breweries. It is interesting to note that 2013 marks the first year since 1987 that microbreweries outnumbered brewpubs in the country.

The total of 2,722 brewing facilities is the highest count since the US in around 140 years, more than when the country celebrated her centennial birthday. In 1876, the Register of United States Breweries lists 2,685 breweries. It is not however, the highest number of all-time, as the Register lists 3,286 in 1870.

In addition to the 2,722 brewing facilities, there were an additional 1,744 breweries in planning at the end of December, the highest year-end number in the BA database.

cbatus-breweries

GfK Roper Youth Report Examines Influences on Youth Decisions about Drinking

underage-drinking
I mentioned this recent study in another post, but it’s worth highlighting all on its own, especially because it contradicts much of the prohibitionist propaganda about how awful it is for kids to see alcohol advertising and how it corrupts their immature little minds, turning them into raging alcoholics. GfK Roper Consulting, which characterizes itself as “one of the world’s leading research companies,” recently released its annual Youth Report, Influences on Youth Decisions about Drinking. Having conducted the same survey since 1991, they note that parents have the most influence on whether or not kids drink before they’re 21. And not only has that been the case for over twenty years, but it’s actually been increasing steadily since that time, up 33% (one-third). During that entire time, advertising has been at or near the bottom the entire time, and is currently at a mere 1%, down 80% from when it was 5% in 1991. This while at the same time, prohibitionists have been complaining about the danger of underage minors just seeing advertisements for alcohol, and doing everything in their power to limit them to the supposed times when kids won’t see them, which is, of course, never.

GfK-Roper-2013-1

Parents, as has been the case since they began conducting the survey, are the biggest influence by a wide margin. But prohibitionists have even managed to make it illegal in some states for parents to educate their own kids about alcohol, believing that they can do a better job with such programs, in California at least, as Red Ribbon Days and making up scenarios in high schools where one of their fellow students has been killed in order to scare them into not drinking, putting them through the very real emotional pain of dealing with a killed friend.

Second only to parents are best friends, but even their influence plummeted beginning in 2008, and is now only about 8%. So even peer pressure is waning. Third used to be teachers, but they’ve dropped below all media (defined as TV, radio, magazines, and Internet). In fact, all influence other than parents and friends are 2% or less, making them almost statistically irrelevant.

GfK-Roper-2013-2

Going on all during this same time period from 1991 to the present, has been a slow but steady decline in the overall amount of alcohol people are drinking. So not only has the advertising become less effective, especially as younger generations are more media savvy, but people and kids are drinking less and less. But it’s harder to raise money from donations if things are improving from these anti-alcohol organizations’ point of view. So what should be good news like this is virtually ignored by them. Good luck trying to find anything about this survey on their websites. If they really cared about stopping underage drinking or keeping drunks off the road you’d think they’d be arming parents with the tools they need to educate their children about responsible alcohol consumption, but actions speak much louder than words, and their actions are all about sounding alarm bells and raising money.