Washington Senate Approves Spirit Samples

get your glasses ready? spirit sampling is almost a go


A new bill that permits the sampling of spirits in state liquor stores, has got the Senate’s approval. ESHB 1202 passed through the Senate with a 31-17 vote, a few weeks after passing the House, 80-18.

The bill asks the Liquor Control Board to select 30 different locations that will permit sampling for one year, beginning in September. In essence, the bill creates a one year pilot program that would include surveying of store managers, to gauge program success. The LCB would have to issue a report on the pilot program to the Legislature by December 2012.

Some Senators think its a good idea, others think its more regulation in an area where the state should not be:


“The whole purpose of this is to allow consumers to become familiar with new and different products,” Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, said on the Senate floor.

Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, urged lawmakers to vote against the bill because private industry, not the state, should be in the business of selling liquor and the bill just “works around the margins.”


I’ll post more on this, if and when it passes.

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Beer Made From Rain Is Shut Down, While Regulators Mull It Over

5 Seasons will no longer be making beer from rain.

This is an extremely interesting story. To a sustainable business fan like myself, you can’t get much better than what 5 Seasons Brewing has been doing: making beer from recycled rain.

Atlanta-based 5 Seasons Brewing Co. has been using a commercial strength 6 stage water filter to collect thousands of gallons of water each month. 5 Seasons found its recycled water to be potable, after substantial testing to ensure that it produce quality beer.  In fact, the rainwater would be void of chlorine, an unfavorable additive of city tap water used in brewing.

Unfortunately, the state and federal regulating authorities were not as excited. A national feature on the brewery raised a bit too much attention, and now the EPA has issued a opinion that the use of rainwater is not permissible for producing beer. Apparently, the EPA came to this result after finding no regulation that permits the use of rainwater for human consumption.

I find this result a bit perplexing. Typically, if something is not regulated, then it should not be regulated. While caution should be given to those items produced for human consumption, the EPA does not appear to have done any research on the topic.  If the EPA had taken a first look, it would have seen the following:


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Microbrew Heavyweight Goose Island Sold to Anheuser-Busch

A beloved beer, and industry first, heads to the big boys? Yikes.

Well, this ought to put a bad taste in some people’s mouths. One of the best and brightest in US microbrew has been sold to Anheuser-Busch (A-B). The world leader in beer will take over the brewing operations, but the two Chicago micropubs will remain held by the brand’s original owners.

A-B purchased a 58% majority share of stock from Goose Island’s original owners and investors for a total of roughly 22.5 Million. Goose Island’s founder, John Hall, will finally reep a major reward for his 23 years in brewing at Chicago’s award-winning brewery.

A-B snatched up the remainder of stock (42%) from the Craft Brewers Alliance (CBA), a collective of Widmer Brothers, Redhook and Kona Brewing.  The CBA grabbed the stake back in 2006, when it forged a deal with Goose Island to help it distribute on the West Coast.  This deal was the precursor for Goose Island’s immediate sale to A-B.

This deal is one of the biggest in craft beer history. But, it did not happen overnight. CBA is partially owned by A-B, who provides a vast distribution market that most craft brewers dream of entering. In 2006, Goose Island entered a distribution agreement with A-B, which inevitably resulted in CBA grabbing a minority share. Now, 5 years later, A-B is sweeping back in to collect the company that it helped expand exponentially.


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Here We Go Again: New Liquor Initiative Filed in Washington

Liquor laws are getting another look in 2011

Just four months ago, Washington voters showed up at the polls and struck down two similar measures that would have privatized liquor sales in the state of Washington. Ready to give it another go?  A new initiative was filed last week.

The new initiative will probably look a lot like Initiative 1100, which failed to pass last November. Why? The author of the new initiative, is the author of the old – Stefan Sharkansky.

According to various news reports, the new initiative seeks to correct some of the easily-attacked items in Initiative 1100. For instance, the new initiative will restrict licensing to businesses who have shown clear compliance with liquor laws, in the past. Furthermore, Sharkansky is not asking to change the current markup (which provided $370 Million to the state in 2010), by having retailers collect the taxes and pay it to the state.

It also appears that this new initiative is more thought out, putting transition procedures in place that better manage the states “hand-off” to the private sector.


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Oregon Passes Bill To Permit Sharing Home Brew

From the backyard to the fairgrounds. Home brew can finally be shared in Oregon


Here is your feel good story of the day. Oregon lawmakers have unanimously decided to approve a bill that will let home brewers share their brew. Its about time.

According to the Oregon Home Brewers Alliance, a 2010 legal opinion issued by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission caused major uproar that necessitated this bill. The opinion specifically stated that while home brewers could produce beer and drink it in their homes, the law did not permit the removal of home brew for sharing with others.

In response, lawmakers produced SB 444. That bill amends ORS 471.403 and 471.440 to provide specific exceptions to the Liquor Control Act, freeing home brewers from the grasp of the Liquor Control Commission.  In particular, the bill provides that home brewers can remove brew from their homes, share with friends, and enter into competitions.

Several Oregon lawmakers have made public comments on the necessity of this bill (from the Oregon Home Brewers Alliance Website):


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