Tuesday, June 9, 2009

This Time It's the Feds Trying to Screw Us...

Well, they're back at it again, friends. There's a proposal before the Senate Finance Committee, as part of health care reform (huh?) to triple the excise tax for 4.5% ABV beer and impose even higher excise tax rates on higher ABV beers.

Originally, the proposal was to tax soft drinks, since these supposedly contribute to poor public health. But then the politicos realized that lots of Americans drink soft drinks and might not like to pay extra for them, even if they are causing problems like diabetes, so they reverted to their old standby of trying to squeeze more money out of folks who drink alcohol. I guess cigarette tax increases have hit the point of diminishing returns...

If this proposal becomes reality, there is no question that many small brewery businesses will suffer, some will close and we as consumers will face higher prices and diminished choice in the marketplace. If you care about having good beers to enjoy and the continued success of America's craft breweries, I'd suggest you visit this special Support Your Local Brewery webpage: http://www.sylb.org/excisetax.html and let your Senators know what you think of their latest shenanigans.

On a more positive note, I've got a couple more tidbits of news to relate.

First, I got a chance to speak with Doug Houge of Kenai River Brewing and he confirmed that their Belgian Summer Experiment is indeed exactly the same recipe as their Resurrection Summer Ale, with just the addition of a Belgian yeast. He even started the fermentation with their house English Ale yeast; he simply added the second yeast after fermentation had been underway for a few days. He also told me that they plan to brew their Raspberry Razz again this summer (which made my wife very happy; she loves that stuff). The Summer Experiment is still only $5 a growler; get it while you can.

Second, on Saturday evening Elaine and I stopped by St. Elias for a nightcap. Chatting with Zach Henry over a glass of his Hefeweizen, he mentioned that he currently had several beers aging "in the wood". That's when I realized that the last couple of times I'd been into the brewhouse, I hadn't walked far enough back! Zach took me inside and back around to see his new "wall of wood": a dozen whiskey casks from Heaven Hill Distilleries in a large barrel rack. Add in the Jack Daniels cask he already had and you get 13 casks for aging beers. I'm looking forward eagerly to the first release of these barrel-aged brews.

Also this weekend, I had a bottle of the latest of Midnight Sun's Crew Brew series, their Fahrwasser Pilsner. Coming it at 5.2% ABV and 28 IBUs, it had a wonderful crisp, clean, and refreshing taste, just what you'd expect from a pilsner. It's light enough to make a great summer beer, perfect for drinking poolside, after mowing the lawn, or during a round of golf.

Finally, next week I'll be attending the National Homebrewers Conference in Oakland, so there won't be any blog for you to read. Normal blog activity will resume in two week, hopefully with photos and many interesting stories from my adventures in California.

Until Then, Cheers!


Didymus said...

Did you enter any beers in the national homebrew competition this year? I've thought about going to the convention a few times, but work always interferes.

If the tax goes into effect, it seems like it would actually stimulate the homebrewing and home winemaking industries. But the feds will probably levy a tax for the supplies too.

Bill Howell said...

I'm not putting anything into the Nationals, but I am entering some local contests, like the E.T. Barnette competition in Fairbanks next month.

Don't think I'm ready for prime time yet...

As for the tax, yeah, it might stimulate home brewing (Lord knows Prohibition did!), but I think I'd rather have more craft brewing.

At least until the hyper-inflation hits.