Writings and observations

Ramparts in the beer wars

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This weekend we watched the new – or, fairly newly available – documentary Beer Wars, which though shooting widely around the country managed to miss the Pacific Northwest, which is a major hotbed of craft beer activity. In unlikely places. On an obscure mountain road a couple of miles from our small rural town is a guy with a shack brewing and selling some pretty good craft beer. It’s not just in Portland, which may have claim to being the most craft-beer-intensive metro area in the country.

The movie made the point that, because of the way the laws work and the distribution structure is rigged, smaller craft brewers have a tough road trying to get their beers to market – that they do it at all being a minor miracle. They’re visible enough around the Northwest that the question arises of whether the system isn’t quite so rigged here against the small guys as it is elsewhere.

It’s tough nonetheless, which is why the lastest twist in the never-ending Washington state tax negotiations catches some attention, and may have more merit than it seems.

From the Tacoma News Tribune politics blog: Senate Democratic leaders’ “latest offer to their House colleagues includes a 50-cents-per-gallon tax increase on beer that would exempt microbrews, a new proposal that was in neither the House nor the Senate budget.”

It would be a substantial increase. But the micro exception could go some distance to affecting the marketplace.

Keep a watch on this. And have a sip.

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