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Important January 24th items

January 24th happens to be a special day in this beer blogger’s life. Not only is it a day that I get to celebrate being alive, my buddy Mike also passed along that the first canned beer was sold on this day in 1935.

1935: The first canned beer in the United States goes on sale in Richmond, Virginia. By the end of the year, 37 breweries follow the lead of the Gottfried Krueger Brewery.

The American Can Co. began experimenting with canned beer in 1909. But the cans couldn’t withstand the pressure from carbonation — up to 80 pounds per square inch — and exploded. Just before the end of the Prohibition in 1933, the company developed a “keg-lining” technique, coating the inside of the can the same as a keg.

For a long time canned beer didn’t make a craft beer drinker’s mouth water, but canned beer is making a comeback in the craft beer world. There are many reasons why it is a great choice for craft breweries but it has been a slow adoption. Happy January 24th folks!

Beer Wars: Review

Last week I posted my initial impressions on the movie Beer Wars. My overall impression was that I liked it. I have since watched it another time just to make sure everything I was remembering was correct. The movie is essentially made up of three parts that are mostly woven together, but also don’t entirely have anything to do with each other. The first part is talking about prohibition and the rise again of craft beer. It tells us how we got to the point that we are now and also how the big boys made their moves.

There are a number of random interviews from craft beer industry giants along with some from the homebrewers group. The interviews are nice sound clips, but they really don’t add a ton to the story. I am sure they had a lot more to say than what was placed in the movie and I would of liked to hear a bit more from them.

The second focus of the movie was centered about two breweries/brands; Dogfish Head and Moonshot. I am partial to Dogfish Head as I love the story associated with that brewery. Basically Sam talks about the struggles of getting a distribution system setup and also how much personal risk there is in owning a brewery. He also mentions how easily the big guys could crush him if they wanted to. One of the biggest points that he makes is what he calls “identity theft” of beer. He makes the comparison how an Bud pumpkin beer vs. his DFH one stacks up. His beer is more expensive, comes in less bottles, and, while it may have more taste, a newcomer to the beer scene is going to go with the Bud product. I get the concern, but that is how business goes. Competition is going to happen and ideas are going to get used by other companies. It is just like TV’s, there are the bargain brands and the ones that are quality. It really depends on what you are willing to spend in order to get the quality you want to get. The good thing about beer is that the price for the cheap beer and the craft beer isn’t that different.

The other brand the movie focuses on is Moonshot. It is a beer that was started by a former sales manager for Sam Adams. They show her struggles with getting funding to take the business to the next level. Moonshot is beer with caffeine in it, which is supposed to be an “untapped market.” The Moonshot lady eventually goes to Bud to try and sell her product. Basically everything that she was against, she winds up trying. I guess the movie was trying to show that you have to go to the big guys to get noticed. It neglects to say that beer with caffeine (which apparently doesn’t taste very good) is just a bad idea or how thousands of other breweries have managed to make it without going to the big guys.

The final part of the movie shows us the three tier system and how much money the beer industry spends in the government. To be honest, it was the most boring part of the movie. I don’t really care to hear about government legislation or anything of the like. The movie also featured a few Micheal Moore stunts like a blind taste testing between the three big beers. People were asked to pick out each of the beers and none of the people shown were able to get it right. Does it prove anything, no, was it entertaining, hell yes. The director of the movie also tried to get an interview with the Bud executives by running up to them and asking.  The obviously did not work and the movie tried to show it as another example of the big guys ignoring the little people. Not really the case, but anyway.

Again I want to say that I did enjoy the movie. There were just a few parts that bothered me in areas where the movie completely ignored. It was entertaining but I feel like the movie didn’t have a clear direction. I suggest seeing it and let me know you thoughts about it if you have/when you do.

Is homebrew legal?

It’s a question that all homebrewers ask themselves before they start brewing or right after they started. It’s the same kind of question anyone asks when dealing with such a “taboo” subject; Is this legal? The long and the short of it is yes, homebrewing is legal. It became legal again, after that whole prohibition thing, in 1978. For the record prohibition was done away with in 1933. Apparently someone forgot to add homebrewing back to the allowed activities, but I digress.

Homebrew laws vary by state, and its not even legal in some, go figure. Most states have a general rule of 100 gallons a year for an adult and an additional 100 gallons if there are more than two adults living in the same house. So we will just call it 200 gallons a year per house is legally allowed to be made. If you have specific questions regaurding your state, refer to this site.

Sadly some states aren’t up with the rest. The following states still outlaw homebrewing:

  • Utah
  • Alabama
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma

Most of the laws in those states are meant for distilling, but they can be inturpted for homebrewing, and some even carry some stiff penalities. Maybe someday they will catch up, I’m just glad I’m in a homebrew friendly state.