Beer News

News by | Feb 2014 | Issue #85

Nevada Brewery-in-Planning Works with City Government to Simplify Regulations

Another dispatch from the beer-legislation reform desk: The husband-and-wife team behind CraftHaus Brewery in Henderson, Nev., 15 miles outside Las Vegas, has successfully rewritten licensing laws in their town.

Dave Forrest and his wife, Wyndee, began planning their brewery and taproom back in 2011, when Dave, an avid homebrewer, was inspired by his trip to Sierra Nevada Beer Camp. “He came back with hops dancing in his head, so we thought, How can we turn the passion into a profession?” Wyndee tells BA.

They “checked, double-checked and triple-checked” with the Henderson City Council to ensure they were meeting their requirements. But then the licensing board told them they needed a tavern license, which cost $60,000 and included gaming, which was something the Forrests want nothing to do with. “We’re very adamant about not offering gaming, because it detracts from the community, and the beer,” explains Dave. “You don’t look at anybody, and you don’t talk to anybody. That’s not the establishment we’re trying to build.”

He continues, “We expressed we shouldn’t have to pay for a gaming license when we’re not offering gaming, and $60,000 is not very business-friendly.” The city council understood, and ended up working directly with the Forrests to amend the existing local tavern licenses. They eventually came up with a new “brewpub” license, which excludes gaming and costs only $10,000. “Saving an extra $50,000 is always a good thing!” Dave says, adding that he’s glad that any new breweries coming to Henderson will have an easier time with the revamped license model.

“There are a handful of other breweries-in-planning,” he says, “and this change would benefit [them] as well.”

CraftHaus aims to open this spring.

NWS_BrewNHLogoBrewNH Shines the Spotlight on New Hampshire Beer

New Hampshire’s government is investing in the Granite State’s rapidly growing beer scene with Brew NH, a new beer tourism initiative launched in collaboration with industry stakeholders.

According to Beer Distributors of NH executive director Scott Schaier, “There was a need for collective promotion” among breweries, distributors and retailers. After discussing it with JT Thompson of Smuttynose Brewing, they agreed that “larger objectives could be met if more stakeholders shared resources and workload,” Schaier continues. “We decided that the Beer Distributors of NH and the forming Granite State Brewers Association would join forces to promote the greater beer industry in NH—beer culture, beer tourism, education, outreach and general promotion.”

Among the highlights of the project is a dynamic website, nhbeer.org. “We have plans to add specialty retailers and craft-centric bars/pubs to the interactive map, to do beer profiles, enhance the forum capabilities and promote the ‘ask a beer sherpa’ function.”

Schaier adds that the BrewNH marketing co-op “allows for scale which 90 percent of our brewers might never reach and allows maximum efficiency … [and] a much larger return on investment.”

Craft Beer Loses Two of its Pioneering Spirits

Peter Austin, founder of the UK’s Ringwood Brewery and engineer of over 140 breweries in 17 countries worldwide, passed away January 1 at the age of 92.

Austin started the Hampshire, England, brewery in 1978, a time when microbreweries were still a radical notion. He would go on to design and help set up 40 additional breweries in the UK over 10 years. He went on to repeat this exercise all over the world. He helped establish 74 breweries in the US, including D.L. Geary Brewing in Portland, Maine.

Alan Pugsley worked closely with Austin during the Geary days, and then went on to found Shipyard Brewing Co. “[Peter] was absolutely influential in the early days, when there was nothing. The thing people don’t understand is today, it’s easy to get in the game in terms of finding materials and equipment,” Pugsley tells BA. “Back then, you had to improvise, and he was a skilled builder.”

The Los Angeles area lost one of its most esteemed beer advocates with the January 8 passing of Sam Samaniego. Samaniego, also known as “The Beer Nazi” (à la Seinfeld’s “The Soup Nazi”) co-founded and ran San Gabriel restaurant The Stuffed Sandwich since 1976, alongside his wife, Marlene.

Samaniego, known for having “legendary” beer reserves, would often deem a newcomer to the restaurant “worthy” to drink a particular brew by asking a series of questions to judge their knowledge, as well as their tastes. He was also fond of playfully getting a rise out of patrons.

BA contributor Drew Beechum recalls, “A good friend and I stopped [in] for a beer or two, and wanted to get some old Hair of the Dog. We asked Sam for four bottles, and he came back with three bottles of batch 5 and one bottle of batch 4. I stopped him and said, Sam, my friend and I were going to split these, and you gave us one bottle of batch 4. His response—‘I know. I wanted to see you guys fight over who got it.’ All said with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.”

85News3After Fire, Minhas Brewery to Come Back Strong

On November 21, a fire broke out in the 169-year-old building housing Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe, Wis. There were no injuries, and the fire was put out in approximately 10 minutes by firefighters, but in that short time the fire had spread to the roof of the stairwell and caused an estimated $2 million in damages to the property.

Minhas president Gary Olson tells BA the damages were all covered by insurance, and there are around 100 skilled tradesworkers laboring “around the clock” to repair and replace affected areas of the brewery.

Olson expects Minhas to be back to normal supply levels within a few weeks, but brewery staff are putting in 12-hour shifts and the brewery itself is running nonstop to ensure demand can be met as soon as possible.

German Breweries Fined in Price-Fixing Collusion

Five German breweries found guilty of illegal price fixing have been fined a total of €106.5 million ($145.5 million) after an investigation by the German national antitrust council.

The five breweries include Bitburger, Krombacher, Veltins, Warsteiner and Barre. According to a statement issued by Andreas Mundt, president of Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the breweries agreed to increase the price of draft beer five to seven euros per hectoliter in 2006 and 2008, and in 2008 all agreed to make their 20-bottle crates one euro more expensive.

The scheme reportedly came to light after Anheuser-Busch InBev learned that their German branch had been party to the price fixing and informed on the group, implicating themselves in the process but receiving exemption from fines as a result of their cooperation.

According to Mundt’s statement, the Cartel Office reached a settlement with the breweries that reduced their punishment. Investigations are ongoing with six additional, unnamed breweries.