Saturday, April 08, 2006

Brew Years Eve II

Brew Year’s Eve marks the anniversary of the repeal of prohibition, and more specifically the day it all started with the legalization of beer, April 7, 1933. I believe it is absolutely essential that we stand up and celebrate our industry’s right to not only exist, but to strive for greatness. Some of you may assume that as a part of a local microbrewery, it’s a standard case of self-preservation, but it is much more than that. I argue that our country, our state and our local communities are more vibrant, interesting and considerably less divided as a result of embracing the relationship with quality food and drink and those who provide it.

Food and drink are two tenets of the good life. Drink, however, has had to fight its way back into our culture from some very dire times. Prohibition did little to dry up our country, as its advocates had hoped would happen. Instead, it dried up historic breweries, distilleries and vineyards, and sent the production of alcohol to the hills, or across borders. It pushed the sale of alcohol into back alleys and speakeasies while money and control went into the hands of criminals. This move decreased quality and safety while criminalizing many otherwise law-abiding citizens.

Our highly-regulated industry shows its history every day. In order to wrestle order from the predictable period of chaos and lawlessness, very strict and detailed rules were enacted. Brewers are licensed and governed by state and federal laws with details, some left from the days of repeal, that would astound professionals in most other industries. To this day, brewers, distributors and retailers face extreme opposition that fills their path to market with many obstacles. Additional excise taxes, restrictions as to how we advertise and to whom we sell, as well as limitations on even where and what days our products can be sold are facts of life to which our industry has had to adapt at great cost.

Nonetheless, today is not the day to discuss the ins and outs of regulation. It is not the day to debate the opponents of our trade who demonize our craft. It is a day to celebrate. We celebrate that the art of brewing is alive and well, and that it enhances our quality of life. We celebrate that craft brewing has culturally revitalized our country which now boasts nearly 1,400 breweries that employ more than 33,000 Americans. We raise our glass to the right to raise our glass – and hope you will too. I hope you savor your next beer as I will, and appreciate that by and large, prohibition is only a part of history.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Brew Year's Eve

We're celebrating Brew Year's Eve at the pub next Friday. Started by the Brewers Association, Brew Year's Eve is a celebration of the repeal of prohibition. I am personally excited about this because I believe many people overlook some of the struggles our industry, craftsmen face. Perhaps more importantly, people overlook the possibility of losing a right or privilege when an opposing social-political group gets the momentum and power.

Our celebration is a positive one. Rather than lament about how awful of an idea prohibition was, or how scary it is, we're going to celebrate all that beer and brewing brings to communities, local, state and national.

We've got some great speakers lined up. Holland Mayor Al McGeehan, Commissioner Jim Storey from Michigan Liquor Control Commission, Ann Query, Chamber of Zeeland, Mike Lashbrook of Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers and myself will all speak to the subject before handing the mallet to Mayor McGeehan who will tap a cask of Blue Goat Dopplebock and raise a toast. Fitting tribute, as Blue Goat is brewed in honor of the grit and determination required to survive in craft-brewing.

The event is 4 -6 PM at our pub, 66 E. 8th St. Please come and celebrate with us!

Where does the time go?

I have to admit to being a bit embarrased right now. I talk about how worthwhile blogs are, only to check my own and see that two months have passed. Frightening. I solemnly swear,.....

One of the reasons,...well, I suppose it's an excuse for my absence, is that we've been BUSY. Many of these projects we've been knee-deep in deserve posts of their own, but I'll try to catch you up first.

We released Black Tulip Trippel in 22 ounce bottles as a continued part of transitioning the High Gravity Series into the screen-printed 22 ounce bottle. More important than how it looks, it tastes fantastic. Kudos to John Haggerty and crew for their fine craftsmanship.

We've also worked hard on creating a new brand in the High Gravity Series, Blue Goat Dopplebock. Brewing it, naming it and getting a 22 oz. designed kept all of us plenty busy. It will be packaged and released in mid-April, so get ready! John has done some cool stuff with it, including an exceptionally long boil - that brings out very interesting tones in the malt; so we're all looking forward to it!

Besides all that, Isaac and I have been on the trade-show circuit, helping our wholesalers present our beers to as many retailers as will try it. It's always fun to feel the beer-selling season get rolling, but it can be a bit exhausting.

April has more in store as we host Brew Years Eve get ready for Tulip Time, Zoomer release and another batch of festivals & tradeshows.

No rest for the wicked, tonight we'll be at Roller Derby, which we proudly sponsor, before a fun night playing with Keith Scott at one of our favorite Saugatuck watering holes, The Boathouse.

Michigan Talk Radio

Just got off the air with Ron Pritchard of Michigan Weekend on Michigan Talk Radio. Ron was a generous host and we talked about Michigan beer for a good 10 or 15 minutes. It should be airing all weekend at mlive or on their local affiliates.

I enjoyed it, it was a fun opportunity to talk about what we do and why we do it. A bit early on a Saturday for a beer-guy like myself, but I managed. Check it out if you get a chance.