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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Two Odd Things

Odd Thing #1: Biggest Breweries List
Each year, the Brewers Association releases lists of the biggest US breweries--and today they put out the 2014 lists. The first one contains all breweries, the second one "craft breweries." But that second one is becoming increasingly bizarre and baroque. Let's just compare/contrast:
  • Craft Brewers Alliance, an association of three independent craft breweries with a minority stake by Anheuser-Busch, is not on the list.
  • The Belgian conglomerate Duvel Moortgat, owner of Boulevard and Ommegang, Gambrinus, an importer that owns a menagerie of beer companies, and North American Breweries, owned by--not making this up--Cerveceria Costa Rica, a subsidiary of Florida Ice and Farm Company, are all on the list.
  • Yuengling and August Schell are on the list--after years of being excluded.
  • Boston Beer, a giant company that makes Twisted Tea and Angry Orchard, is on the list.
The "craft brewers list" is nothing of the kind: it's a "Brewers Association list." I hope journalists completely ignore it when they talk about relative size and refer only to the list of all breweries. It's the only one that has any meaning whatsoever.

Odd Thing #2: Powdered Alcohol
A bill in the Oregon state legislature would ban powdered alcohol, which was recently approved by the FDA.  Apparently this is a thing, powedered alcohol. The company that brought it to market, is vigorously (but in my view not entirely effectively) fighting back. Their arguments include: 1) if you ban it, people will want it more; 2) once the black market gets going, you'll lose control of it; 3) don't waste precious government money fighting the black market!; 4) Alcohol is... well, this argument is so nakedly self-serving it deserves a quote in full.  "Alcohol misuse and abuse is a real problem. People can abuse any product and there's no controlling what a person does with a product. What's the solution? We know that you can't legislate behavior so banning Palcohol is not the solution. We have to educate people on the responsible use of alcohol."

I have no opinion on the matter except that the Palcohol company needs to hire a decent political strategist and communications director immediately.  


  1. That list is as bogus as a $3 bill.

  2. They are well-worn Libertarian rhetorical devices, but not altogether wrong. Prohibition never works, even if you can justify it for moral or ethical reasons

    Which I can't, here, either, since the opposing argument seems to be "THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!"

    I mean, at best you have "It would make it really easy to circumvent revenue and tax streams at major events that have a monopoly on alcohol sales." If you were a cynical sort of person.

    I am more interested in how it's made. I know you glaze over chemical stuff, but according to very thorough research (wikipedia), it's ethanol encapsulated inside a ring of dextrins.

  3. Cerveceria Costa Rica/Florida Ice & Farm-owned North American Breweries (Genesee, Magic Hat, Pyramid, Portland, etc) is not on the "Craft" list.

    The Brewers Association does not count BBC's cider or FMB production, resulting in newly-minted "craft brewer" Yuengling being #1, even though Boston topped 4 million barrels in 2014, counting those other beverages -or about 1 million more than Yuengling. Wonder how Jim Koch feels about that.

    At this point, having lost their import rights for Corona and the other Grupo Modelo brands back in 2006, and no longer having the US importing rights to Moosehead, Gambrinus is primarily a US brewery owner (Spoetzl, BridgePort, Trumer-US), rather than an importer.

    I suppose if the B.A. booted Gambrinus out of the "craft" column, they'd have to logically do the same for Griffin Group-owned Anchor.

    Not that logic was ever the dominant aspect the Brewers Association's "craft" definitions.