A Press Democrat Blog

Beer Country

A digest about that other famous beverage

President Roosevelt to the rescue

You may have heard by now that today is National Beer Day. You don’t really need to twist my arm to drink a good beer, but I decided to look into how this holiday came about. With a little research, I learned that April 7th, 1933 was the first day that alcohol, with restrictions, was allowed to be sold in the United States after years of Prohibition. With the success that the craft beer industry is experiencing in our country,… Read More »

Sonoma County Beer, Cider, and Spirits conference takes shape

Lineup set for first ever conference on Sonoma County’s booming artisan beverage industry.… Read More »

More questions than answers on cider

Once in a while, reporters just have to admit what they don’t know. In a story out this morning, we explore a peculiar little bill that zipped through the California legislature earlier this year and was signed into law by the governor. It makes a change to the state’s liquor licensing to allow large brewers to make cider without applying for a separate license, despite the fact that cider is defined as wine in both state and federal law. The… Read More »

Governor signs growler bill

Gov. Jerry Brown (the guy with the pen and the Track 7 growler) has signed the new growler bill, sponsored byAssemblymember Wesley Chesbro, D – North Coast (the guy with the big smile – no word on whose beer that is). The bill ends confusion over the rules for filling the big beer jugs. For a long time, the ABC inisted that the law said breweries could only fill growlers bearing their own distinctive logo. Then earlier this year, ABC… Read More »

Washington messes with the brews

As we told you back on the first day of the federal shutdown, the impasse on Capitol Hill has put the kibosh on federal alcohol licensing activities, including permits for new facilities and approval of new labels. That implies all kinds problems for brewers, winemakers, distillers and cideries, from stalling long-planned openings and expansions, such as Petaluma’s HenHouse Brewing, which is afraid it’s pending move may be blocked by the shutdown, to the delay of new products, including the lucrative… Read More »

Governor signs spirits tasting bill

Gov. Brown has signed the liquor tasting bill that we wrote about last week, allowing most distillers to offer tastings at their production facilities. Distillers aren’t exactly celebrating, however, since the bill does not allow direct sales of most kinds of spirits, the way wineries and breweries can do. Until that happens, many brewers say there is no point in setting up a tasting room. Dig into this question and it quickly becomes cleat that California’s liquor licensing is more… Read More »

World’s most refreshing can?

Last I checked, the thing in the package was the point, not the packaging itself. But of course, certain beer manufacturers disagree. Observe MillerCoors, which has been out front in creating and marketing fancy packaging: ink that changes color to tell you when your beer is cold (saving you the trouble of, say, touching it to find out), or Miller Lite’s “Vortex” bottle, which added rifle-like grooves to the neck to make sure the beer is extra swirly when it… Read More »

Lagunitas owner confirms: no fight over 420

Last we heard, Lagunitas was rethinking their decision to give in to Atlanta brewer Sweetwater, which demanded that the Petaluma brewery drop any use of the term “420″ on their labels. But I talked to owner Tony Magee this morning and he says he will follow his first instinct and not contest Sweetwater’s trademark claim, based on their flagship “420 Pale Ale.” “It would be like arm-wrestling for the name ‘Jesus,’ ” he said this morning from Chicago, where he… Read More »

It’s just flavored water after all

For all the talk about malts and hops and yeast in beer, the truth remains that it is mostly plain old water (someone once called it “flavored water.” But what a flavor it is). So perhaps it isn’t surprising that there has been a fair bit of talk in the beer press of late about clean water issues. A number of craft brewers have joined with the Natural Resources Defense Council to lobby for strong enforcement of the federal Clean… Read More »

Some more thoughts on Lagunitas…

My colleague Chris Coursey has some interesting reflections on Lagunitas founder/guru Tony Magee in his column this week, spurred by our article earlier this week about   the stink over the pot-slang term 420 with a brewer in Georgia. Incidentally, I spoke with a another senior official at the brewery on Thursday and he hints there may be more to come on this story, but that has to wait for Tony to get back from vacation. We’ll keep you posted. -Sean… Read More »

Hope for Mexican beer fans

As wide open as California’s beer market may be, for brew fans in our Great Neighbor to the South, life is very different. The Wall Street Journal reports this week on the pervasive culture of pay-to-play in the Mexican beer market, with distributors and brewers cutting exclusive deals with restaurants and corner stores, meaning customers may only have access to one or two brands at any given location. So if you step into a store in Mexico City looking for,… Read More »