Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What does it mean to have a brewery license in Maryland?

I was scouring our Maryland code on beer and breweries (Article 2B), and finding our "code" is a hell of a lot harder than I expected. If the legislature were smart, there would be a direct link to the general code on the main page - an easy to navigate code, to boot.

§ 2-206. Brewery license.

(a) In general.- A Class 5 manufacturer's license:

(1) Is a brewery license; and

(2) Authorizes the holder to:

(i) Establish and operate in this State a plant for brewing and bottling malt beverages at the location described in the license;

(ii) Import beer from holders of nonresident dealer's permits; and

(iii) Sell and deliver beer to any wholesale licensee in this State, or person outside of this State, authorized to acquire it.

(b) Restrictions on service and sale.- A licensee may:

(1) Serve up to 6 ounces for a sample of beer brewed at the licensed premises to anyone who has taken a tour of the brewery, if that person is of legal drinking age; and

(2) Sell beer brewed at the brewery for off-premises consumption to anyone who participates in a guided tour of the brewery, subject to the following restrictions:

(i) The purchase is limited to 144 ounces of beer per person each year, based upon records kept by the brewery and forwarded to the Office of the Comptroller at intervals specified by that Office; and

(ii) The person has attained the legal drinking age.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Following the lead taken by Saranac

I received an email today from DuClaw written in a similar style to Saranac Beer announcing price increases across the board for their beer. Not only that, but there will be no Venom this year, which is their American Pale Ale.

Instead of reformulating the Venom recipe, it was announced that there will be a new American IPA called Hellrazer. I'm pretty sure that it will have a similar grain bill to Venom, however they will just use a different variety (or varieties) of hops.

I'm also anxious to hear the results of today's hearing at the Maryland House of Delegates. They were hearing the direct wine shipping bill, HB 1260, and hopefully it passed with flying colors. It would be tremendously beneficial for home consumers and for the liquor stores, by providing a wider selection.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I appreciate the effort of Saranac Beer announcing the price increase

The Saranac Beer monthly email came today with their announcement of a price increase coming soon.

Not the greatest of news; however, I truly appreciate Nick and Fred Matt coming forward and informing their customers that this is something they have to do and their hands are tied.
We are all aware that prices everywhere are increasing; we see it every time we fill-up our cars. Unfortunately Saranac is being affected too and thus we are writing to explain why you are going to experience a significant increase in the price of our beers over the next few weeks.

We have heard from literally hundreds of our loyal drinkers over the years that you appreciate the fact that Saranac is somewhat more reasonably priced than other craft beers. Thus we know you are going to be sensitive to the fact that the price of Saranac is going to increase about 8%-10% in the upcoming weeks. This at retail will translate to an increase of $.50 for 6-packs and $1.00 for 12-packs. We recognize it is a big increase and we wish it was avoidable.

Unfortunately it is not. We are experiencing dramatic cost increases for malt and hops, the basic ingredients we use to make our beers. In 2008 the price of malt will go up over 100%, and the price of hops, depending on the variety, will increase from 40% to more than 100%. These price increases are unprecedented! They are the result of a number of factors we have no control over including a poor harvest in 2007, increased world wide demand, a decline in the acreage devoted to growing malt and hops and increased demand for that acreage for making ethanol. All in all, these tremendous increases in malt and hops are going to nearly double the cost for us to make our beer. This combined with the rising cost of package materials, energy and labor, is putting us in a position where we have no choice but to increase our prices.

We regret having to take such significant price increases. We have made every effort to minimize the amount that we pass along to you. In fact this increase will not offset all the cost increases we are facing. We have made the decision to absorb some of the increases ourselves, but we must take a significant price increase if we are going to be able to continue to make the quality beer you expect as a Saranac drinker.

We certainly hope you understand and will continue to support us. As always we thank you for your loyalty and support. If you happen to be in our neck of the woods, please come visit us. We hope to see you soon!


Nick Matt Fred Matt
President Vice President
It might not be the beer you normally pick up, but I suggest you support these guys, go out and buy a sixpack of Saranac Pale Ale. While you're at it, buy a sixer of your local beer. They are feeling the same pinch.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

One step toward greatness!

Check it out gang,

As a Valentine's Day gift to me, I'm stopping by Best Buy tomorrow to pick up a Sanyo 4.9 cubic foot refrigerator. I'm going to convert it to a kegerator to hold my two soda kegs and CO2 tank. I figure I can brew up my Gingerbread spice ale and still have a free tap for a stout (maybe?).

It's a step toward opening a brewery, in a convoluted kind of way... baby steps, keg my beer and serve it on draft.

I'll do my best to post pictures and details of the conversion once all of the pieces are in play.


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hot on the heels of the SABMiller news

Courtesy of the ProBrewer.com's forum:

A-B, InBev Talks Heat Up

Reports speculate that deal may happen this year

InBev, the world's second-largest beer producer by volume, and Anheuser-Busch are in advancing talks that could lead to a merger of the two, Belgian business magazine Trends said on Thursday.

InBev, whose key brands are Stella Artois, Beck's, Brahma and Leffe, and Anheuser-Busch have been the subject of consistent merger speculation over the past year.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal said talks between the brewing giants had become more serious and that a deal was possible this year.

Both brewers have repeatedly declined to comment.

InBev was formed from the 2004 merger of Belgium's Interbrew and Brazil's AmBev.

Biofuels Deemed a Greenhouse Threat

Keep plowing that land for biofuel production. Not like we need other staple grain to survive.

Courtesy of the NY Times,
"Almost all biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these “green” fuels are taken into account, two studies being published Thursday have concluded.

The benefits of biofuels have come under increasing attack in recent months, as scientists took a closer look at the global environmental cost of their production. These latest studies, published in the prestigious journal Science, are likely to add to the controversy.

These studies for the first time take a detailed, comprehensive look at the emissions effects of the huge amount of natural land that is being converted to cropland globally to support biofuels development."
Click the link highlighted above the quote for the full article.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Speaking of a site to help the beer and wine industry...

Check out Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws.

The following comes directly from their "About Us" section.
"Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws was formed in 2005 to advocate for beer and wine laws that: 1) benefit consumers; 2) promote competition; 3) protect the environment; and 4) support Maryland's brewers and wineries.

MBBWL represents all Marylanders -- consumers, retailers, producers, distributors, and just regular folks -- who share our values.

Specific reforms that we support include allowing consumers to order wine through online retailers like wine.com, and buy beer and wine at grocery stores.

To join our campaign for better beer and wine laws in Maryland, contact:

Scott Ehlers
Executive Director
Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws"
If you are seriously considering opening/starting your own brewery or winery in Maryland, I would give this site a visit. It's almost a lobby for beer and wine consumer in Annapolis.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Marylanders, tell your Delegates to say no to Senate Bill 232!

Citizens of Maryland, join me and let's consign this silly bill into the deep!

Courtesy of the Beer Advocate email alert system:

Senate Bill 232 - recently introduced in the MD General Assembly by Senator Forehand (Montgomery County) will increase the MD tax on beer 6 times - from .21/ case to $1.22/case. As you are no doubt aware, recent dramatic increases to the cost of brewing raw materials have already added about a dollar to the cost of a sixpack.

And the recent 20% increase in sales tax has also increased the cost of beer. If the proposed legislation is passed a six pack of beer will go up at least another 50 cents, on top of the increases noted above, and will make Maryland's beer taxes more than twice our neighboring states!

Enough is enough! Just Say NO!

This bill is opposed by our local (to the brewery) Delegates - Jimmy Malone and Steve DeBoy. But tell your local representatives to oppose Senate Bill 232 and any other bill that increases beer excise taxes.

1) Click here http://mdelect.net/electedofficials/

2) Enter your address and city and hit "Find Elected Officials"

3) The next screen will give you email links to both your State Senator and Delegates.

4) Send them an email today! Please be respectful, but tell them what you think!"

SABMiller the largest brewer in the world?

The giant global conglomeration, SABMiller, who provide thirsty drinkers around the world with Miller Genuine Draft, Leinenkugel's, Golden Pilsener, Carling Black Label, and Pilsner Urquell, among several other brands, are positioning themselves to be the largest brewer in the world, overtaking the mega-brewer InBev.

According to the ProBrewer Interactive forum with the take over of Grolsch, and Heineken buying out Scottish & Newcastle, SABMiller will position itself as number 1.

InBev is best known for providing us with beers such as Becks, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, and Labatt. Their portfolio consists of approximately 200 brands spanning the globe.

Heineken, the number 3 brewer, owns a little more than 120 brands; including the ever-popular Heineken, Amstel, and Murphy's Irish Stout.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

"Savor" the date

Savor, an event being presented by the Brewers Association, is coming to Washington, D.C. It is a two-day event in May with three sessions. The first one will be Friday night, May 16, from 6:30-10:00 PM. Garrett Oliver is the featured speaker.

The second session is Saturday, May 17, from 12:30-4:00 PM. Featured speakers Randy Mosher, Jim Koch, and Rick Martin will be talking about pairing beer and food.

The final session, Saturday, May 17, will start at 6:30 and end at 10:00 PM. The first seminar will be about "cross drinking". Lauren Buzzeo, Wine Enthusiast Magazine; Ray Isle, Food & Wine Magazine; Ken Wells, CondeNast Portfolio; and Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director, Brewers Association will be the speakers at that event. The second seminar will have hosts Sam Calagione and Marnie Old duke it out over beer and wine.

Tickets are $85 a pop for one of the three sessions, but I think it's worth it. I'm trying to convince Rachel that it's worth it too. :)