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Beerdrinker of the year crowned
When Christopher Newport University psychology professor Diane Catanzaro discovered that students were taking annual trips to Belgium, she signed up as a co-chaperone. After all, it’d give her regular access to one of the world’s great beer nations—a fun thing for Catanzaro, 48, who had longed to learn more about beer.
That curiosity started back in college, when she realized there’s more to beer than the mass-produced stuff. She eventually became a homebrewer and a certified beer judge, and in late February reached a long-time goal: She was declared Beerdrinker of the Year at Wynkoop Brewing’s annual contest. She’s the second woman to take the crown, and beat two other finalists for the prize: Logan Perkins of Denver, CO, and Phil Farrell of Cumming, GA.
The prize comes with free beer for life at Wynkoop, and a $250 beer tab at her local pub, The Biergarden in Portsmouth, VA. But Catanzaro is hoping the title comes with some influence, too: She wants restaurateurs to think of beer as an important offering, and offer a wider selection to their customers, and plans on talking to them about it. She’ll start locally, and then take it from there. “I think that when people become more aware of what beer has to offer, they’re going to be demanding it at restaurants,” she says.
Beer loses its historian
Above all others, Alan Eames loved Guinness. But after traveling the world to find new beers, it seemed too easy to love such a common one. He had another favorite, though: Fruitillata, a milkshake-like beer made with strawberries and corn, brewed only 10 days a year by a tribe in remote South American mountains. One year, he just happened to show up in time for a drink. But then, that was what Eames did.
Eames, a beer historian nicknamed the “Indiana Jones of Beer,” died in his sleep on February 10. He was 59. His career took him across the world, researching beers and the innumerable ways they’re made, and he wrote his findings in books such as Secret Life of Beer.
“He was very passionate about things, and he would develop intense interest in things,” said his wife, Sheila, who was living with Eames in Dummerston, VT. “There’s so much history in beer that he never grew tired of learning about it, reading about it, talking about it.”
She said his introduction to beer came at a beach party in Maine when he was 17.
It was a Ballantine IPA. “He wrote about the attraction of the green of the bottle, the perfect fit in the hand, the wonderful smack of it when the beer hit his tongue,” Sheila says. “He was always interested in history, but I think that was his first real life-changing event, as far as beer went.”
Brewers without borders
Connecticut passed a set of liquor laws in the 1930s, one of which prohibits the owner of a brewpub from also running a microbrewery. Now, one local brewpub owner is giving himself a month to change that—and if it doesn’t work out, he’ll just go across the border to Massachusetts, and another state will get his business.
“We want to stay. We don’t want to uproot,” says Steve Boucino, co-owner of The Cambridge House Brew Pub in Granby, CT, which is only four miles from Massachusetts. “We don’t want to form dummy corporations and put things in multiple names. We don’t want to do any of that, and we could.”
In its two years of operation, The Cambridge House has done well: Its beers have won national awards, it may open another location elsewhere in the state, and its customers are clamoring for bottled brew they can take home. Boucino wants to seize the business opportunity, but can’t seem to shake the state law. So in February, he contacted the Hartford Courant, which ran a long article about his problem. Now he’s got local lawmakers and the state’s other eight brewpubs calling him, wanting to talk about a solution.
It better come quick, though. While Boucino wants to stay in the state, he knows how fickle opportunity can be, and he’s not willing to wait years to cash in. If he can’t muster a serious challenge to state law by mid-March, he said, he’s going to open his microbrewery in Springfield, MA, which is only 15 miles away. The Bay State, surely, won’t mind another brewer.
Lager, rinse, repeat
If Life & Style Weekly is to be believed—and with the high standards of celebrity-gossip rags, why not?—then Hollywood hairstylists have begun pouring beer on their clients’ heads. Except, that’s supposed to be a good thing: “The malt has a ton of protein, which gives cuticles a lift, while the vitamin B and natural sugars make hair super shiny,” the mag quotes Francky L’Official, a high-end stylist.
“If you’re affronted that they’re wasting a good beer, then I’d say when you go into the salon, you say that they not waste a beer on your head.”
That’s fine and all, but aren’t there better things to be doing with your beer? Yes and no, says Annette Dejournette, general manager of International Academy, a beauty school in Daytona Beach, FL.
“If you’re affronted that they’re wasting a good beer, then I’d say when you go into the salon, you say that they not waste a beer on your head,” Dejournette says. And anyway, she says, top-end stylists are always searching for new techniques they can boast about, so the beer craze probably won’t last long. Hey, maybe next time they’ll use wine.
Are Bud.tv’s walls high enough?
When Anheuser-Busch launched Bud.tv—its much-ballyhooed, online entertainment channel—this month, visitors complained that they had to register by forking over personal data. But that was to be expected: In order to ward off claims that it was marketing to the underage crowd, A-B had devised perhaps the most extensive registration process of any brewer website. Only adults were allowed in, it said.
So eyebrows may have been raised down at A-B HQ when, a few weeks after Bud.tv’s launch, more than 20 attorneys general from across the country sent a strongly worded letter demanding that the company do more to keep youngsters off its site. A-B replied, saying it has lost tens of thousands of potential visitors because of its rigorous registration process.
Is a standoff brewing? Maybe. If A-B had to make its restrictions even tighter, more visitors might be deterred from checking out the site—and then Bud.tv could be simply hemorrhaging millions of dollars.
And at this point, it’s unclear if the attorneys general can really do anything about it. There are plenty of laws regulating alcohol sales and alcohol marketing, but it’s hard to say if any apply to Bud.tv.
“We’ve got a little saber rattling going on,” says Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law. “Maybe there’s not even that much legal backing behind this letter. But still, the threat that they can find something might be enough to make their point.” ■