The law could “pretty much be the end of competitions in Wisconsin,” he lamented. “At least legal ones.”
An explosion of interest in home brewing is forcing lawmakers across the country to review long-forgotten alcohol laws, some of which date back to Prohibition (1920-1933). Although the old rules have rarely been enforced, beer enthusiasts fear they could criminalize a rapidly growing hobby and kill scores of annual tasting events that bring tourists to small towns and cities.
In Wisconsin, Flynn and other home brewers may soon be off the hook. The state Legislature last week passed a bill to allow them to transport homemade beer and wine and to share it with other adults. Brewers will still not be permitted to sell anything they make, and they will remain exempt from permit requirements and taxes.
The proposal now heads to Gov. Scott Walker, who plans to sign it into law.
By Mark Hertzberg, AP
Beer lovers line up to sample brews at the annual Great Lakes Brew Fest at the Racine (Wisc.) Zoo.
At least 17 states have ambiguous laws on whether home brewers can transport beer or wine outside the home, according to the American Homebrewers Association in Boulder, Colo.
The patchwork of rules can be frustrating for hobbyists who would prefer to spend their time exchanging recipes for pale ale or rhapsodizing about varieties of hops, barley and yeast.
Some states — including Georgia and South Carolina— have restrictions similar to Wisconsin’s. In Kansas and Minnesota, home brewers can only make beverages for themselves or family members. Other states permit homemade beer and wine to be consumed by guests, too, as in Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho and Illinois.
A few states have been slow to accommodate the trend. Utah just legalized home brewing in 2009, and Oklahoma followed in 2010. Mississippi and Alabama are the only states that still forbid it.
Dan Grady of the Wisconsin Homebrewers Alliance, who led the legislative effort to revise Wisconsin’s law, said beer-makers need to be watchful in case states try to use the issue to generate money for tight budgets.
“States are under enormous pressure. It’s a revenue issue,” he said. “Everything is on the table these days.”
Gary Glass, director of the Homebrewers Association, said it’s a balancing act when considering whether to pursue a change in the law.
“The question becomes, at what point does a home brewing community want to take on having the law changed if it’s not really having an impact to what they’re doing?”
Glass, who organizes the group’s popular national conference, said he’s had trouble securing a venue in states with vague home brewing laws. The conference, which changes its location annually, adds an estimated $500,000 to local economies.
A grassroots reform effort succeeded last year in Oregon, where the law had been similar to Wisconsin’s. Glass, who helped draft Wisconsin’s bill, said the legislation’s demise would have set a bad precedent for home brewing.
“In this economy, you’re stifling an industry that’s growing,” he said. “It sounds like a bad move.”
More than ever, people with little or no experience brewing beer or other fermented beverages are investing in kits and ingredients to make their own. The hobby has expanded into a vibrant beer culture, with brewers sharing their concoctions among neighbors and friends and in clubs and competitions.
Last year, there were 411 beer competitions sanctioned by the Homebrewers Association and the Beer Judge Certification Program. That’s up from fewer than 100 in the early 1990s.
“Back in the day, everybody thought home brewing would just be what your grandfather would do,” said Jason Heindel, president of the Beer Barons of Milwaukee Cooperative.
Home brewing has also helped invigorate the booming craft brewing industry. And it’s generated a cottage industry of its own. An annual survey of brewing supply shops around the country showed an increase in sales for beginner brewing kits, according to the Homebrewers Association.
Home brewing of beer was illegal in the United States from 1920 until 1978, when the federal government lifted Prohibition-era restrictions. The revised law left most alcohol regulations up to the states. So many states have their own home-brewing rules.
In Wisconsin last year, brewers were caught off guard when the state Department of Revenue ruled that it was illegal for home brewers to share beer outside the home. The decision came after Racine officials inquired about a contest known as the Schooner Home Brew Competition.
After the department’s announcement, organizers quietly moved the contest, one of the state’s largest, from Racine to nearby Union Grove. But they didn’t advertise it because they feared possible fines.
Grady said home brewers in other states can learn from Wisconsin.
“Home brewers need to look at their state law, because they might be just as ambiguous as Wisconsin,” he said. “And if there’s ambiguity, they need to contact their lawmakers to get them clarified, much like we’re doing here.”
GRAND RAPIDS — Founders Brewing Co. apologized on its website this weekend for not being able to sell enough of its sought-after Kentucky Breakfast Stout to beer lovers who lined up as early as 12 hours before Saturday’s limited release event.
The popularity of KBS, which was named the No. 2 beer of 2011 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, meant there were close to 1,000 people in line for the release when the Grand Rapids brewery’s taproom on Grandville Ave. SW opened at 11 a.m.
The turnout took the brewery staff by surprise and they decided to limit the purchase amount to a half-case per person instead of the advertised full case. The brewery had 315 cases to sell at $114 apiece. With the allocation cut in half, 634 people walked away with beer and the last 362 people were out of luck, the company said.
On Sunday, four-packs of the beer were selling for upwards of $60 on eBay. The brewery was selling them for $19 per 4-pack and $4.75 per bottle on Saturday. Founders said next year’s release will be three-times larger.
“First of all, we want to thank everyone for their support, their loyalty, and their appreciation for good craft beer–if nobody cared about KBS, we wouldn’t be sending out this communication because there would be no issue. The turnout for our release today was a testament to the dedication of the beer enthusiasts and to how far our industry has come over the years.
[…] Our vision for our release parties has been to get the core beer enthusiasts to our brewery for a fun time, to foster new friendships and new stories to tell. We’ve always wanted it to be more about the experience than the beer that folks leave with, and we’re sorry if that experience today was tarnished for anyone because of the decision that we made early this morning.”
“There’s nothing else in Grand Rapids like this beer,” said Chris Siciliano, who manages the website for Siciliano’s Market on Lake Michigan Drive NW in Grand Rapids, a destination stop for home brewing supplies.
Part of the popularity for KBS comes from its story, he said. The beer is aged for about a year in bourbon barrels in gypsum caves under the city. Founders began brewing the beer in 2009.
Their description: “What we’ve got here is an imperial stout brewed with a massive amount of coffee and chocolates, then cave-aged in oak bourbon barrels for an entire year to make sure wonderful bourbon undertones come through in the finish.”
Siciliano said the market received 20 calls on Saturday asking when the beer would be distributed in the area. He said they are getting their shipment on Thursday morning and it will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
Given that Grand Rapidians will camp out for everything from cheap TVs to chicken wings, it’s not really that surprising a beer release event would draw a crowd as well. Siciliano said he heard from people attending the release from North Carolina, Illinois and Indiana.
They come for the release, hit other breweries in town like Harmony and Brewery Vivant, and stop at the HopCat on Ionia Ave. SW for a drink, he said.
“It’s like going to a concert and hanging out in the parking lot beforehand,” he said. “It’s good for the whole craft beer industry in Grand Rapids.”
Email Garret Ellison or follow him on Twitter.
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MINNEAPOLIS – It’s another milestone for the craft beer community in Minneapolis.
“This is an amazing day for Fulton and for Minnesota beer,” said Jim Diley, co-founder of the Fulton Brewing Company.
Fulton opened the city’s first “tap room” Saturday and hundreds of beer lovers attended. The grand opening was made possible thanks to the loosening of laws and city ordinances. Breweries in Minneapolis are now able to serve customers a pint of beer on-site.
“A year ago, no brewery could open up and sell a pint inside,” says Diley. “But now we can bring people in and show them what we’re doing.”
Last Spring, Governor Dayton signed the “Surly Bill” into law allowing brewers to sell, but not serve, on location. Since then, the city of Minneapolis has helped to make life easier for small brewing companies looking to do business by allowing customers to drink on-site and purchase growlers.
“City laws made it impossible for them to brew in Minneapolis,” said city councilmember Gary Schiff. “These laws crept up over time and a lot of them have been on the books since prohibition. This makes sense as the microbrewery industry is growing.”
Fulton won’t feature the only “tap room” in the city for long. The Harriet Brewing Company will follow with their own this spring.
It’s another sign the beer brewing in Minneapolis is booming.
“We’re expecting about a hundred jobs at the end of this year just in the microbrew industry as a result of loosening these laws,” says Schiff.
(Copyright 2012 KARE. All rights reserved. This material maynot be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
HARD-UP drinkers are staying away from the pub … and turning their homes into breweries.
Sales of home brew kits are soaring, with Tesco reporting a 70 per cent increase last year and Morrisons 26 per cent.
And it’s not just bitter people are making – they are brewing a wide range of beers, from stout to Mexican-style lager.
Tesco spokesman Fabio Perretti said: “People want to experiment with different beers. And it’s much simpler and quicker to make home brew these days – it can take less than two weeks to ferment.”
Since 2004, beer duty has increased by more than 50 per cent. A pint of bitter now costs an average of £2.70 in a pub, while lager is £3.10. A pint of home brew costs around 72p.
In a further blow to pubs, Chancellor George Osborne is expected to increase duty again in the Budget, adding up to 10p on a pint.
Fifteen years ago when J.D. Ellis bought Mr. Dunderbaks German Biergarten, only a dozen people would show up at his tiny spot inside University Mall to talk about home-brewing beer.
These days he closes the brew hall and restaurant, now on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, on the first Tuesday of each month to accommodate a club that includes 150 people.
It’s been a slow climb, but on the eve of its first Beer Week, the Tampa Bay area shows signs of becoming a bona fide destination for craft beer lovers in the state and across the country. From the long-established Tampa Bay Brewing Co. and Dunedin Brewery to relative newcomers Cigar City Brewery in Tampa, St. Somewhere Brewing in Tarpon Springs and Peg’s Cantina in Gulfport, hand-crafted, locally made beers are now only a short drive away.
Tampa Bay Beer Week starts Saturday and runs through March 10 with more than 100 events throughout the area, including several at Dunderbaks.
The inaugural week of beer events, which begins with the Florida Brewers Guild Beerfest and finishes with Cigar City’s release of its latest batch of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, is a sign that Tampa’s market is strong enough for beermakers in the state and across the country to cater to.
Conditions are improving for local brewers after decades of government regulations and pressure from mass-producing companies that kept better quality imported beers out of the state and prevented brewers from distributing homemade brands.
Those restrictions stunted the state’s craft beer growth, putting it behind flourishing beer towns such as Philadelphia, Denver and Boston, said blogger Gerard Walen of BeerInFlorida.com.
Those towns enjoy avid fans who flock to pubs, breweries and festivals to celebrate suds. Philadelphia’s Beer Week features more than 1,000 events and draws 50,000 participants. Colorado gives an incentive to breweries by taxing them less to export their beer than to sell it within state lines.
“Tampa is definitely growing in Florida, and getting a reputation outside the state, but still has a long way to go,” Walen says.
It wasn’t always this way.
Tampa’s Florida Brewing Company, the state’s first brewery, made ales and Cuban-influenced beers in Ybor City for six-plus decades before shutting down in 1961.
During that time, from 1934 to 1957, Southern Brewing Company made ales and lagers at its downtown Tampa plant at the corner of Zack and Pierce streets. The DeSoto Brewing Company and Ybor City Brewing Company also had brief runs in Tampa before folding.
That was before Budweiser and Miller became dominant national brands, and laws requiring distributors and restricting the size of containers kept metric-sized bottles of European breweries off store shelves.
With a limited number of styles available, beer lovers turned to home-brewing in the 1980s and ’90s to explore varieties they couldn’t find otherwise. Some who participated turned their hobby into a way of life, opening brew pubs and microbreweries, including the Tampa Bay Brewing Company, to cater to people like themselves who enjoy beer with more flavor.
As the movement has grown, companies like Anheuser-Busch slowly have been losing market share among avid beer fans, prompting them to create their own craft brands. In the meantime, distributors have been more willing to offer craft beers in their sales calls. And beer scenes in Orlando, Jacksonville and South Florida continue to mature and grow.
“It all goes hand in hand with people liking things more and more that are local and handcrafted,” said blogger Sean Nordquist, author of the St. Petersburg-based site BeerForTheDaddy.com,
“Craft beer drinkers like being able to go in and meet with the people who made it,” he said. “There’s a great deal of local pride in ‘our town’s brewery.’ “
In Tampa, Joey Redner’s Cigar City brand has made the biggest splash in recent years, after starting up in late 2008. Using Tampa history to market itself and infusing its beers with everything from cigar box cedar to citrus flavors, Cigar City has won national acclaim, including a gold medal at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival in Denver. The brand has become so iconic so quickly, there are plans to build a Cigar City microbrewery to greet fliers at Tampa International Airport. Costco has begun selling Jai Alai IPA by the case.
“Cigar City is pretty much leading the charge,” Walen said. “When I go outside the state to festivals, the first thing people ask when they hear I’m from Tampa is, ‘Are you near Cigar City?’ “
Redner started as a home-brewer, said Mike Fouch of Micro Man Distributors in Oldsmar. Fouch was an early craft beer proponent in Tampa, and has watched as several garage brewers graduated to more ambitious operations.
“This is a really close-knit group of people,” Fouch said. “It’s such a brotherhood. They became the basis for what is happening today.”
Brew-o-philes, get ready: The second annual BeerVana lands at the Sonoma Community Center this Saturday (3/3), 5-8 p.m., giving beer-lovers 21 and up the opportunity to sample the wares of nearly two dozen local and regional breweries.
The winners of the 2012 Amateur Beer Brewing Competition held in January will be announced at the event. The Beer Judge Certification Program sanctioned the competition, and all submissions were judged in accordance with the Program’s style guidelines. Prizes include ribbons. The grand prize is a Beer-vana stein, a coveted hand-made ceramic beer stein trophy.
Along with lots of great beer, local restaurants will also be on hand with great eats, and great music will be provided by the Jason Bodlovich Trio and JD Limelight. A commemorative beer glass is yours to take home.
Beer-vana takes place at SonomaCommunity Center, 276 E. Napa Street, Sonoma, on Saturday (3/3), 5-8 p.m. Doors open at 4:30. Only ages 21 and over will be admitted. Tickets: $30/Person. Information: 938-4626 x 1 or sonomacommunitycenter.org.
To say that Travis Johnides and Mike Howland like beer would certainly be true, but to say that the two have a devout passion for the fermented beverage would be much more accurate.
Known as “The Beer Amigos,” Johnides and Howland have become the newest sensations of the Long Island craft beer scene. They travel the island visiting the 13 local breweries and attending every single beer festival each year.
It’s easy to spot the two beer lovers at these festivals. In addition to donning black t-shirts that say “Listen to The Beer Amigos,” Johnides and Howland are the ones wearing the huge sombreros.
“The sombreros help too; it gains us some attention,” Johnides said. “We walk around and no one knows who we are, but they find out within 30 seconds.”
But The Beer Amigos have gained the most notoriety through their online audio iTunes podcasts, which they host approximately once per month. Johnides and Howland said they are proud to have started “the premier Long Island craft beer podcast.”
The initial idea
The origins of The Beer Amigos are quite ironic. Howland is originally from Bayport-Blue Point and now lives in Patchogue—the location of the Blue Point Brewery. Once he turned 21, he began developing a taste for Long Island craft beer.
Johnides, originally from Centerport, also enjoyed local beers to the point where he would sample whatever the island had to offer.
Howland’s girlfriend, Erica, and Johnides’ wife, Melissa, worked together at a photography studio and thought it would be fun to go on a double date. The ladies thought Howland and Johnides hit it off very well—even though the topic of beer was not discussed. A budding friendship was formed.
However, in August 2010, fate took over. Howland was an intern for Starfish Junction Productions, an event marketing and production company. He was simply meeting his internship requirement by working at the Long Island City Beer Festival in Queens that summer.
Meanwhile, Johnides and his wife were helping a Brooklyn-based brewer pour beer at the festival. Since it wasn’t planned that both Johnides and Howland would be there, the two were ecstatic to see each other and realized that they both absolutely loved beer.
“We would hang out at places that had craft or artisanal beers,” Howland said. “We just started talking about it extensively.”
Howland’s girlfriend Erica has her own online podcast about the FOX television series “Glee.” Erica and Melissa saw how much fun Johnides and Howland were having talking about beer. They urged their significant others to start their own podcast.
Rather than risk their life savings by starting their own beer-brewing company, Johnides and Howland have instead focused their efforts on the podcast. They’ve recorded seven episodes since May 2011, with each episode getting progressively longer because these beer buffs could go on all day about the potent potable.
The Beer Amigos bring in local brewers as guests to discuss any new recipes or upcoming plans, as well as more lighthearted topics. Additionally, Johnides and Howland include their live coverage of the various Long Island beer festivals.
“Presenting the show from an audio standpoint is really a great way for us to then expand into video and things of that nature,” Howland said.
While Johnides and Howland have gained an impressive following based on their content, the catchy name itself—The Beer Amigos—has drawn fans. They wanted a fun name so looked to actor Steve Martin and the “Three Amigos” for inspiration.
“It just sounded a lot better than ‘The Beer Friends,’” Johnides said.
“The Beer Friends…that sounds lame,” Howland added.
Future multimedia plans
With the recent evolution of the Long Island taps from big beer companies to local brews, the time is ripe to be a Long Island-based brewing company, according to The Beer Amigos. They are excited that they can attend local beer festivals as both members of the media and as fans.
“It’s [craft beer] a work of art, and Mike and I definitely look at it that way,” Johnides said.
Johnides and Howland agree that the next step with The Beer Amigos is to incorporate other forms of multimedia. They already recorded three songs, and they have their own YouTube channel. They envision a type of variety show format eventually.
Though they are aware of the growing potential of The Beer Amigos, Johnides and Howland are content for now with traveling the island in search of the latest craft beer. Some local breweries have hosted The Beer Amigos for special events and have even brewed a new beer for them taste.
Spring will be a busy time for The Beer Amigos. They will be covering the Long Island Spring Craft Beer Festival at the Nassau Coliseum on March 10 and the Blue Point Cask Ales Beer Festival on April 14.
They are always open to questions, suggestions or positive criticism to help improve the podcast. “Like” them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, listen to their podcasts, subscribe to their YouTube channel or email them with any ideas.
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Filed under Features, Page 1 · Tagged with artisanal beer, Beer, beer amigos, festival, iTunes, Jim Mancari, long island craft beer, Long Island Report, mike howland, podcast, suffolk, travis johnides
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FOLSOM, CA – With Sacramento Beer Week kicking off on Friday, thousands of beer enthusiasts are expected to flood local pubs and restaurants to sample beers from some of the world’s finest brewers.
California’s Capital has seen a massive surge in craft beer appreciation over the past few years, with local watering holes catering to the diverse palates of sophisticated beer drinkers, new pubs opening their doors, and several new breweries setting up shop in places like Folsom, Loomis, and Lincoln.
But it’s not just the professionals steeping, boiling, fermenting and bottling fresh batches. A large number of everyday Sacramentans have taken to their local brew shop and transformed their affinity for beer into a passion for home brewing. One of the places catering to the accruing masses of home brewers is The Brewmeister in Folsom.
“Business has increased 50 percent to 80 percent every year since we opened in 1991,” explains Eric Schmid, owner and manager of The Brewmeister. And Schmid says it’s not just an increase in customers he’s noticed, but an increase in their demand for new, innovative, and sometimes unconventional brewing ingredients.
“In the early years, home brewers just kinda followed what the microbreweries were doing and made traditional ales, porters, and stouts,” says Schmid. But as microbreweries have become more adventurous, so to has the home brewer. “Home brewers are really pushing the limits now and experimenting with mixed brews like Belgian-IPAs, and adding non-traditional ingredients to beers.”
But despite the appearance of more complex beers on the store shelves, and rise in home brewer know-how, Schmid encourages those considering throwing their hat into the brew kettle not to be overwhelmed. “Don’t be intimidated,” advises Schmid, “it’s just like making liquid bread.”
Schmid’s brew shop, along with the Gold Country Brewers Association and a handful of home brewers will be hosting a brewing demonstration at The Brewmeister on Sunday to explain exactly what brewing entails. The exhibition will be the The Brewmeister’s contribution to Sacramento Beer Week.
Schmid says the Association will be bringing a portable brewing trailer, on which members will be brewing up batches of beer from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot. Schmid said Brewmeister regulars, and any other interested brewers are welcome to bring their equipment and brew up a batch in the parking lot.
The four-hour event will be a great opportunity for new brewers to pick up some tips and experienced brew masters to talk shop and compare notes.
Following the exhibition, Schmid has planned a small pub crawl for attendees at some of the other Beer Week participants lining Historic Folsom’s Sutter Street. Schmid invites everyone to come out for a crash course in craft brews and a fun afternoon amongst those who understand your fascination with what many consider man’s greatest creation.
The Brewmeister is located at 802A Reading St. in Folsom, CA.
Visit The Brewmeister website to view all their home brew supplies or to learn about their home brewing classes.
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Deadline for beer brewing contest
Home beer brewers from the North Bay have until Feb. 22 to enter the Sonoma Community Center’s Beer-vana beer brewing competition, an officially sanctioned amateur beer-brewing competition and tasting party on Saturday, March 3
Budding beersmiths are invited to enter their original brews for judging in one of 10 nationally recognized categories. Medals will be awarded multiple categories, and one “Best in Show” grand prize winner will receive the fabled Beer-vana Stein trophy.
The “Nirvana for beer lovers” features samples of beer from dozens of breweries and local restaurants, a commemorative beer glass, and live music. Find out more about the event and the competition at Sonomacommunitycenter.org or 938-4626.
Feb. 19, 2012 1:00 p.m. – Feb. 19, 2012, 4:00 p.m.
What’s not to love about crisp hops, malty goodness or the refreshing coldness after a long day? This course is for beer lovers after the holy grail – brewing their own craft beer. This course will guide you through the basics of home brewing, from the equipment you need and the role of each of beer’s ingredients to the science of beer and simple, clear explanations of every step in the process – from brewday to bottling. Explore what it takes to brew a five-gallon batch of extract beer and stop along the way to learn the ins and outs of creating homebrews similar to your favorite beers or something totally off-beat. No experience necessary.
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