Beer News

News by | Dec 2011 | Issue #59

Post Office May Permit Mailing of Beer and Wine

Brewers, online beer merchants and other businesses that hope to send you suds may have some new shipping options in the near future, as the US Postal Service is considering lifting its ban on shipping beer and wine. The measure is proposed as part of Senate Bill 1789, also known as the “21st Century Postal Service Act of 2011.”

The point of the measure is to get back some of the market share from private shipping companies like FedEx and UPS, which allow the shipment of alcoholic beverages, in order to keep the USPS running as long as possible. However, beer traders may not be so excited for the measure, since it still prohibits the mailing of beer from one individual to another. Only brewers and licensed businesses would be able to take advantage of this relaxed law, and moreover, the Postal Service would need to verify the recipients’ age with a valid ID upon delivery.

Senator Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., is co-sponsoring the plan—which includes additional measures to keep a six-day delivery cycle while proposing a restructuring of health care benefits and post office staffing—and hopes it will keep the Postal Service from bankruptcy.

Alchemy & Science Preparing to Conduct Craft Beer Chemistry

Alan Newman, the original founder of Magic Hat, and his longtime business partner, Stacey Steinmetz, are teaming up with Boston Beer Company founder Jim Koch to form Alchemy & Science, a joint venture that aims to become a “craft beer incubator.”

Newman left Magic Hat after the company’s sale in 2010. He explains via press release, “Our job will be to find the opportunities in craft brewing—the blank spaces that exist. Some of those blank spaces will be geographical, others will be stylistic. Some may be with existing breweries or brewpubs. We’ll be looking for unique brewing techniques and ingredients as well as hunting for ancient or new recipes and beer styles to develop and introduce to beer lovers.”

Koch notes, “When Alan left Magic Hat, our industry lost a unique individual. He was a very creative brewer with real brand and business sense. We’ve kept in contact and recently, I asked … if he would be open to working with us. The whole thing fell into place quickly. We decided Alchemy & Science should be a subsidiary of Boston Beer, and that Alan should run it. I told him the mission should be to make great craft beer in any way, place, or style that he thought made sense.”

Since Alchemy & Science is a subsidiary of Boston Beer Co., they’ll be able to utilize the wealth of Boston Beer’s available resources to carry out their mission. Newman looks forward to the future, adding, “I see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

59News2Dave Farnworth, Co-Owner of Southern California Pub Chain Lucky Baldwin’s, Passes Away

Dave Farnworth, one of Southern California’s most renowned publicans, passed away on October 28th at the age of 59 after a long battle with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Farnworth was a co-owner of Lucky Baldwin’s, a chain of three British-style pubs throughout Greater Pasadena, famous for their authentic food, atmosphere and outstanding selections of beer, particularly Belgian ales. Farnworth was also knighted by the Belgian Brewers Guild as a member of the Brewers’ Mash Staff.

Farnworth, who came to Pasadena by way of England, was known for his biting, dry sense of humor. He also had a keen enthusiasm for finding the world’s best beers to offer patrons. BA contributor Drew Beechum, a regular at Lucky’s, recalls, “He started a Barleywine & Strong Beer festival, and wanted to have it judged, so he asked a few members of the Maltose Falcons who were regular customers to put it together. They did. We show up—20 or so judges—and work our way through the beers to produce a first, second and third place winner out of the 60-odd Barleywines he was tapping. Now, I fully expected him to publish the results—trumpet the winners, drive up sales, etc. Nope. He just did it because he wanted to know what we thought were the best.”

Farnworth, along with his business partner, Peggy Simonian, bought the original Lucky’s location in 1996 from its previous owners. They grew the business enough to open to two more locations—Lucky Baldwin’s Trappiste Pub and Café in East Pasadena, and Lucky Baldwin’s Delirium Cafe in Sierra Madre.

59News3Michigan Now Tagging Kegs with Bar Codes

As of November 1st, all beer kegs sold to individuals in Michigan must be tagged with state-issued bar codes. These tags will enable Michigan police to track who supplied beer at house parties that may have led to any unlawful activity. Kegs sold to restaurants and bars for public consumption will not be subject to this new regulation.

While law enforcement will certainly make use of these records, the ordinance is drawing some criticism due to the amount of extra work that will come with it. Breweries and retailers will require the purchaser of the beer to complete and sign a special receipt listing their type of ID, ID number and date of birth. These receipts also contain stickers that need to be affixed to each keg—up to four—being purchased. The store then must keep that record (which is subject to inspection by state authorities at any time) on-hand for at least a month after.

Local businesses say they understand the reasoning behind the law, but many are concerned about the tough penalties for losing the tag. If a tag is altered or removed, the purchaser may have to forfeit their deposit, or potentially even face jail time. Brewers and store owners worry that will result in fewer returned empty kegs. They also worry that scrubbing the sticker off the kegs will prove to be an annoying task.

November Elections Bring Changes to Washington’s & Georgia’s Alcohol Laws

This year’s elections have ushered in some significant changes to the way beer will be sold in both Georgia and Washington.

Up for a vote throughout Georgia was the ban on Sunday alcohol sales, which had been in place since the late 1800s. Voters made their voice heard loud and clear throughout the state, with the vast majority of cities and towns overturning the law. However, the ban wasn’t lifted statewide. Sunday sales will only be permitted in the 105 out of 127 voting districts that approved it, and further still, the repeal in some regions may not officially take effect until as late as February.

Meanwhile, the majority of citizens in the state of Washington voted in favor of Initiative 1183, which proposed the privatization of the state’s liquor industry. Sale of beer, wine and other non-spirits by independent retailers was already permitted; however, I-1183 was a much more contested issue among those involved in the alcoholic beverage industry due to several additional provisions included in the law, which were widely seen as being detrimental to small businesses.

One such provision legislates that the state will dissolve its liquor operations and sell off its remaining assets, giving private retailers the ability to sell spirits after receiving a license from the state. However, licenses will only be given to retail locations with over 10,000 square feet—effectively cutting out many small shops.

National wholesale chain Costco, whose stores are large enough to surpass the square-footage limitations, heavily lobbied in favor of I-1183. By Election Day, they’d invested $22 million in the cause. Joel Benoliel, senior vice president and chief legal officer at Costco, stated, “We are very grateful to all of our coalition partners across the state. The voters overwhelmingly demonstrated that facts trump scare tactics.”