20090630

Come visit me


This is the logo for Examiner.com, a multi-topic Web site created by the same company that started the free-distribution Examiner newspapers in major U.S. cities.

I've been signed as the Web site's National Drinks Columnist, and I'm inviting you to join me here as well as on this site, for all the latest in beverage news and views -- spirits, wine, brews, non-alcoholic drinks.

(Bonus for those of you interested in the Upstate New York restaurant scene: I'm also Examiner.com's columnist for that topic. You can find it here.

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Soapboxes and suds together again

For years, crowds showed up in Frostburg to watch the annual Derby Day soapbox races.

But, in 2001, the Western Maryland city's council decided to ban public consumption of beer at the races and the crowds sharply dropped off.

Now, that decision has been reversed as the town tries to draw more visitors who will spend money locally, something everyone is seeking in this down economy.

Are problems anticipated for the Fourth of July event?

Public Safety Commissioner Bob Flanigan said he is all for allowing open containers during the race.

“I was a police officer in Frostburg for 19 years and never made an arrest on Derby Day,” he told the Cumberland Times-News. “Also, we certainly saw the crowds get smaller once open containers were prohibited.”

The race will take place, and sidewalk brew consumption will be legal, on Main Street between the Palace Theater and Bowery Street where young racers will show off their gravity-powered racers.

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20090622

Oregon beer tax hike off the table

PORTLAND, OR -- The Oregon House has decided not to vote on an increase in the state beer tax during this legislative session.

The office of House Speaker Dave Hunt confirmed that fact, saying the decision came in large part because of the current economic climate. The bill would have raised the state's beer and wine tax by about 1,900%.

The tax increase would not have affected any of the microbreweries in the state. None produces more than two million barrels annually, the level that would have been the cutoff point for additional taxation.

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20090618

Delaware wine/beer-in-markets bill tabled

Well, that didn't last long.

A bill in the Delaware state legislature that would allow supermarkets to sell beer and wine (see earlier story) has been tabled by a House committee.

House Bill 193, sponsored by Rep. John J. Viola, D-Newark, would have made Delaware the 46th state to allow stores other than package stores to sell beer and wine. He said the licensing fee -- $100,000 for the first year and a $5,000 biennial renewal fee -- could have raised up to $10 million the first year “and substantial revenues after that.”

However, Siobhan Sullivan, director of the state Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement, told the committee the division would have to hire 12 new agents at a cost of $700,000 to enforce the bill.

DelawareOnline reported that Viola, who chairs the committee, wasn't happy with being unable to fend off the vote to table. Had that happened, he said, he would have been able to address the arguments against it “backed up by data and facts.”

The bill also was opposed by package-store owners, who packed the House chamber for the hearing. Tabling makes it unlikely it will be considered before the June 30 adjournment deadline.

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20090613

Bud Light adding Golden Wheat version

First it was Bud Light.

Then, last year, it was Bud Light Lime.

Now, it's Bud Light Golden Wheat. At least it will be the week of October 5 when Anheuser-Busch sends the latest version of its big-selling brew to market.

The move to the wheat category can be seen as a response to the increase in the number of them from craft brewers around the country. Bud Light Golden Wheat uses unfiltered wheat, orange and coriander to give it a different flavor.

The new beer has a few more calories and carbohydrates than Bud Light: 118 calories compared to 110, and 8.3 grams of carbs compared to 6.6 grams. It has slightly less alcohol at 4.1% by volume, compared with Bud Light's 4.2%.

Keith Levy, vice president of marketing, said in a stement: "We're trying to keep it in the franchise of Bud Light, but certainly give it its own look. We're not trying to out-craft craft. Certainly it's the personality of Bud Light, but in a very different way."

Levy said the company is working on its advertising for Bud Light Golden Wheat and said it expects to spend about the same as it spent last year on Bud Light Lime's launch — about $30 million.

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20090610

Just because I want to share it



Go here for a history of this "Star Trek" beverage staple.

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20090608

Delaware latest wine/beer-in-markets battleground

Proponents of a bill that would allow supermarkets to sell wine say it will raise more revenues for the state and give consumers more choice.

Opponents say it would cost more in closed small businesses and lost jobs than it would help in other ways.

The battleground? No, not New York State which is in the second round of debating different proposals. This time it's Delaware.

The difference is that while approval of such proposals would allow both wine and beer to be sold in supermarkets in Delaware, such vendors have sold beer in New York for ages.

Delaware State Rep. John Viola, a Democrat, says the legislation could raise up to $10 million in its first year because it would require supermarkets to pay a $100,000 license fee.

But package store owners claim that is an inflated figure, and that many small businesses selling wine and beer would fold, thus cutting into projected revenues.

One of the major opponents is the Asian-American Business Association, which was a major player in killing such a proposal in 2006.

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20090604

Ireland's oldest brewery closed down

Ireland's oldest brewery has closed its doors for the final time.

The Beamish & Crawford facility in Cork has been closed by its owner, Heineken, which has transferred production to another site in the city.

Brewers have been making beer at the South Main Street site since 1690.

Here's a video telling the Beamish & Crawford story.



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20090602

Frankenmuth Brewery to go back online in July

The historic Frankenmuth Brewery, a Michigan icon despite a checkered history, is scheduled to re-open in July.

Anmar K. Sarafa, chief investment officer for Birmingham-based Steward Capital Management Inc., bought the closed facility on January 30. He says he has created a management team to join Frankenmuth Brewery Real Estate and run the restaurant/brewery side of the business.

Haithem K. Sarafa, attorney and spokesman for his brother, said Sarafa expects to hire 70 to 80 full- and part-time employees from the region to work at the brewery and restaurant. He estimates a microbrewery will create up to 2,000 barrels of six to seven types of beer, including seasonal brews, in the first year of operation, and that it has the capacity to do 5,000 to 8,000 barrels.

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Colorado's 'top' brewery closes

Rosie's Brewpub in Leadville, CO, has served its final pint.

May 39 was the last day for the business, billed as Colorado's highest-altitude brewery. A message on its Web site says:

"Unfortunately with the economy, we here at Rosie's Brewpub must close our doors. This past winter has impacted us in the worst way possible. Thanks to the many that did patronize our brewpub."

The four-year-old pub was owned by Rosemary and Gary Yonocsko. It is the second craft brewer to go out of business in the state in recent weeks. The seven-year-old Arctic Craft Brewery in Colorado Springs closed last month amidst, says Denver Westword, "a dispute between its partners."

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