Paper or Plastic & Beer

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Here’s an odd little story from Virginia, sent in by an alert reader (thanks Jeff). In many places, there’s a growing debate about plastic bags, paper bags or no bags at the grocery store. In Virginia, there currently is no law regarding them, but that hasn’t stopped stores all along the southeastern coast of Virginia — an area known as Hampton Roads — from insisting that customers get a plastic bag, if they’re buying beer, that is. It’s not the law, of course, as confirmed by Kathleen Shaw, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

According to a story in the local Daily Press, apparently “[c]ashiers are either erroneously told by their employer that Virginia requires them to bag alcohol or they mistakenly equate store policy to state law. Either way, beer is bagged at nearly every supermarket and convenience store in Hampton Roads.” As the article, entitled The ABCs of plastic bags and beer shopping in Virginia, points out, in many places outside the area, stores are actually prohibited from using plastic bags, while still others champion their use.

But whether you think plastic, paper or your own bag is the way to go at the grocery store, that’s not what caught my eye. It’s the notion that it’s “beer” that has to be covered before it leaves the store. As for why that might be the case, multiple 7-11 franchise owner Raj Gupta, had this to say: “it’s convenient for the customer [and] it deters customers from drinking alcohol in the store parking lot.” Uh-huh. Whether it’s more “convenient” is debatable, and a bit beside the point if it’s mandatory at all of his stores. And as for deterring customers from ripping open the thin plastic bag and starting to drink in the parking lot, I can’t believe placing the six-pack into a bag is really going to do much good. Gupta certainly doesn’t care about the environment, as he also states. “If they don’t want the bag, they can throw it out in the trash can when they leave the store.” And then start drinking it, one presumes, which is what he was claiming the bag prevented.

But since those reasons are as flimsy as the plastic the bags are made out of, it seems more likely it’s his third reason why “he requires cashiers to bag six-packs, bottles of wine, and single cans and bottles of alcohol.” And it’s a doozy. “[I]t prevents minors from seeing people carrying alcohol.” Holy crime wave, Batman, thank goodness Gupta’s on the scene. We wouldn’t want the little kiddies “seeing people carrying alcohol.” Goodness knows what untold harm that might cause. He doesn’t mind selling alcohol, but he doesn’t want children seeing it. If parents bring their children into his stores, do employees have to cover the kid’s eyes? Or is alcohol on a shelf safe; it’s only dangerous when an adult is carrying it? Or when it’s outside the sanctuary of the store.

Yes, I’m making fun of him, but only because he deserves it. Yes, he’s free to run his stores any way he sees fit, just as anyone is free to not shop at any of his stores. But it points out a deeper issue, which is that he has some weird, unhealthy issues with alcohol. They’re obviously deep enough that he believes that children seeing adults carrying alcohol is such a problem that he’d make it his “company policy” to avoid it happening. As I pointed out, not enough of an issue that he’d voluntarily stop selling alcohol, but still. Why that might be, I can’t fathom, but I’m curious enough to want to know. It has to have something to with the way alcohol is demonized by certain factions of our society. It has to have something to do with our society only hearing one side of the story, with neo-prohibitionist groups spreading their biased propaganda, and doing everything in their power to prevent anyone else from having their say, telling the opposite side of that tale. How else to explain a businessman who sells alcohol believing it’s in his best interests to make sure that children don’t get the idea that people buy alcohol. What possible benefit could he derive from that “company policy?” Frankly, I’m stumped. I can’t think of one reason that’s not fanatical, based on erroneous information or just plain looney.

Virginia Beer

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Today in 1788, Virginia became the 10th state.

Virginia
State_Virginia

Virginia Breweries

Virginia Brewery Guides

Guild: Virginia Craft Brewers Guild

State Agency: Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

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  • Capital: Richmond
  • Largest Cities: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Richmond, Newport News
  • Population: 7,078,515; 12th
  • Area: 42769 sq.mi., 35th
  • Nickname: Old Dominion State
  • Statehood: 10th, June 25, 1788

m-virginia

  • Alcohol Legalized: April 12, 1933
  • Number of Breweries: 37
  • Rank: 18th
  • Beer Production: 5,251,800
  • Production Rank: 11th
  • Beer Per Capita: 21 Gallons

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Package Mix:

  • Bottles: 45.8%
  • Cans: 45.8%
  • Kegs: 8.2%

Beer Taxes:

  • Per Gallon: $0.26
  • Per Case: $0.64
  • Tax Per Barrel (24/12 Case): $7.95
  • Draught Tax Per Barrel (in Kegs): $7.95
  • Per barrel rate for packaged beer is based upon the actual per barrel rate as defined by state statute, rather than the Virginia 24/12 equivalent rate, which is a higher rate.

Economic Impact (2010):

  • From Brewing: $1,017,828,228
  • Direct Impact: $2,374,629,810
  • Supplier Impact: $1,390,245,260
  • Induced Economic Impact: $1,504,607,057
  • Total Impact: $5,269,482,127

Legal Restrictions:

  • Control State: No
  • Sale Hours: On Premises: 6 a.m.–2 a.m. No restrictions at any time for club licensees.
    Off Premises: 6 a.m.–11:59 p.m.
  • Grocery Store Sales: Yes
  • Notes: Licensed supermarkets, convenience stores, and gas stations may sell beer and wine. Off-premises sales no later than 12 a.m. Numerous dry counties exist.

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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.

Beer In Art #93: Matt Dembicki’s Brewmaster’s Castle

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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:

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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.

The Heurich Mansion  (The Brewmaster's Castle)

But back to the comic book. Here, Christian Heurich strolls through his mansion.

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And near the end of the story, Heurich begins turning out the lights.

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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.

Dembicki-brewmaster-1

RustyCans.com has more on Heurich’s history.

Beer In Art #40: Emily Zasada’s Beer Paintings

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This Sunday’s work of art is by a contemporary artist from Virginia who often paints wine, in fact so much so that her domain name is winepaintin.gs. Her name is Emily Zasada, and she’s also done a couple of paintings of beer, too. The painting below is a still life called Beer, Typewriter and Key

Zasada_Emily-Beer_Typewriter

From her biography at her website:

Why realism?

I’m not sure. I’m not a patient person, so even I don’t always understand why I’ve chosen to focus on this type of art. But the details of objects fill our lives; they’re background players and constant companions, even though they’re largely unnoticed. Consider the faint curve of the keys of the computer keyboard under your fingers, for example, or the pale translucent light that lightly brushes the rim of your coffee cup. All of these tiny things give our life texture and beauty, if we stop just for a moment to examine them and pause in the middle of an enormously rushed day.

So I guess that transferring these details into a painted image pays homage to these details, carved out by light and scattered throughout our daily lives. Light is so important in my paintings that possibly it isn’t really realism that I’m after, but a glowing version in which the light that brushes over an object and carves shadows around and through it is itself an artist, changing the hues and shapes of objects as the hours pass in a day.

I’m self taught, and have been painting for nearly 5 years. An article about my work was featured in the spring 2005 edition of the Virginia Wine Gazette, and one of my paintings was also chosen for the cover art. One of my paintings was also featured on the cover of the Long Island Wine Gazette and another painting was featured as the cover of the program for the 2006 Virginia Wine Festival.

Despite her wine focus, I discovered at least one more beer painting she did, this one entitled Afternoon Pour.

Zasada_Emily-Beer_Pilsner

You can see more Zasada’s artwork at a gallery at Art Wanted and, of course, at her main website.