Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Good laws for good beer in Virginia

Hey, Virginia beer fans: Would you like to drink a pint of a brewery's beer after you've toured the brewery? Currently, you are not allowed to do that, even though you may sample wine at a winery. Or, as a business: Would you like to sell your own beer if someone else makes it for you? You currently must sell it to a third party, and buy it back, usually at a mark-up in price.

The good news is that two bills have passed major hurdles in the Virginia Legislature in the last few days HB 359 and SB 604— that may do just that.

To learn more, I interviewed two of the respective proponents. Sten Sellier is the President of Beltway Brewing Company, a soon-to-open production brewery in northern Virginia. Mike Killelea is the Chairman of the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild.

First, Sten.


What does HB 359 accomplish?

A production brewery will now be able to sell beer DIRECTLY to the beer’s “brand owner,” as long as that “brand owner” is appropriately licensed as a brewery or wholesaler. In other words, a business with a brewer’s or wholesaler’s license will be able to pay a brewery directly to produce its own brand for them, and then take immediate ownership of that beer for distribution through their own channels.

How did you get involved?
After I spoke with a distributor down in Richmond while doing market research back in September, I was introduced to a friend of his named Neil Burton, who has start-up brewery plans of his own. Neil and I had common interests in getting some form of the TTB's (Federal Tax and Trade Bureau) "alternating proprietorship" arrangement legalized in Virginia, or at least brewery-to-brewery direct sales, or “transfers,” legalized.

What is an 'alternating proprietorship arrangement'?
An “alternating proprietorship” is an arrangement in which two or more people take turns using the physical premises of a brewery. Generally, the proprietor of an existing brewery, the “host brewery,” agrees to rent space and equipment to a new “tenant brewer.”

How did you get the bill introduced?

We articulated exactly what we wanted to get accomplished and set to work figuring out how to get the law changed in Virginia. Neil’s wife got us in touch with delegate Jennifer McClellan and we explained to her our goals. Delegate McClellan was able to get the legislative services department to draft a bill for us that would accomplish our goals.

Beer wholesalers, the second-tier of the three-tier alcohol distribution model, might have concerns.
Yes, so we shared the draft bill with the Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association. After they voiced some concerns with the bill as written, we decided a face-to-face meeting with all parties would be the best course of action. Delegate McClellan hosted a meeting in her office in mid-January; included in the meeting that day were Denny Gallagher (president of the VBWA), general counsel from the VBWA, Curtis Colburn (COO of the VA ABC), a lawyer for AB-InBev, a lawyer for Miller-Coors, Tom Lisk (an ABC expert attorney), and the two of us. We stated our case and what our goals were, then Denny and his attorney voiced their concerns amicably. By the end of the meeting, Curtis Coleburn offered to edit the verbiage of the bill to make all parties happy in a form likely to glide through the House and Senate.

What happened next?
Curtis delivered as promised and the edited bill was re-submitted by Delegate McClellan to be considered by the House. On Feb 2, we went to speak on behalf of our bill as it was presented to the House General Laws Subcommittee on ABC/Gaming (the most scrutinizing body that would examine our bill) – to our delight, after we spoke, the attorney for the VWBA stood up in support of the bill and no one spoke in opposition. The subcommittee voted unanimously to approve. After that unanimous decision, the bill passed through the General Laws Committee, then the House of Delegates, then, as of last Monday, the Senate, all with unanimous approval.

How would this affect you, Sten, and other small breweries and brewpubs in Virginia?
As you can imagine, this is HUGE for Beltway Brewing Company’s business model, huge for start-up breweries interested in starting their business with lower up-front costs, and huge for existing breweries with excess capacity who will now more easily be able to contract out their excess capacity.

Can you elucidate further?
This legislation will allow breweries to more easily lease their unused resources to other licensed breweries to promote growth and steady business. It is a “win-win” for both established breweries and new breweries, as well as for the economy of the Commonwealth of Virginia. For example, Virginia brewery, “A,” that has excess brewing capacity will be able to enter into an agreement with small, licensed start-up brewery, “B,” to use that excess capacity to produce beer for them. This allows brewery “A” to generate revenue with expensive equipment that might otherwise be sitting idle and allows brewery “B” to get product to market without the tremendous initial investment of large-scale equipment. This bill would also enable Virginia breweries to produce beer for out-of-state breweries looking to enter the Virginia market instead of having to ship their product in from great distances.

Beltway Brewing Company
Tell us more about Beltway Brewing Company.
Beltway Brewing Company is a brewery opening soon in the Washington D.C. area (Loudoun County, Virginia) exclusively as a host for partner brewing, contract brewing, and production of private label beers. The mission of Beltway Brewing Company is to professionally produce high quality craft beer for those who cannot build or expand their own breweries. Beltway is currently in the fundraising stage and plans to be open for production by late 2012/early 2013. [Neil Burton is still a little ways out from starting his business so he is not yet announcing any details about his plans.]


Now, to Mike Killelea, chairman of the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild (and a brewer at Legend Brewing Company in Richmond, Virginia). The Guild worked on crafting Senate Bill 604, relating to alcoholic beverage control and privileges of brewery licensees.
What exactly would SB 604 do, if enacted?
SB 604 will allow a brewery licensee to sell beer at retail at premises described in the brewery license for on-premises consumption and in closed containers for off-premises consumption. In layman’s terms, production breweries would be allowed to sell pints to customers. If passed, you could tour a Virginia brewery and enjoy a pint afterwards, much like how you can enjoy a glass of wine at a Virginia winery. This would have no effect on brewpubs.

UPDATE: Both the Virginia House and Senate have approved the bill, on 1 March and 5 March, respectively. It will go into effect on July 1, 2012.

What's the bill's current status?
On Tuesday 28 February, SB 604 passed through both the House Subcommittee on ABC/Gaming (7-0) and then the House General House Committee (22-0). It just needs to pass two more votes – the full House floor and the full Senate floor. Then it goes to the Governor. The Governor’s office is very interested in this bill.

What's the upshot?
Just think, the next time you tour Hardywood, Starr Hill, Lost Rhino, etc., you would be able to sit down and enjoy a pint or two. This would mean more funds for the state and local governments through excise taxes and sales taxes. More importantly, it would me more revenue to the breweries, which in turn will hopefully lead to more capital expenditures and more jobs. It will also make the Commonwealth of Virginia more competitive with other states at luring new breweries.

Virginia Craft Brewers Guild

Tell us more about the Virginia Brewers Guild.
The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild was officially launched as an affiliate of the Virginia Manufacturers Association in December 2010. It organizes Virginia craft brewers for purposes of economic development, business development, supply chain management, tourism, and government affairs. Membership is extended to craft brewers, and associate membership to businesses and organizations that provide support services or products to the industry (e.g., equipment manufacturers, agricultural interests, economic development, etc.).


UPDATE: The bills passed, Virginia Governor McDonnell signed them, and they took effect on the 1st of July, 2012. Congratulations —and hearty thank yous— to Mike Killelea and the Virginia Brewers Guild, and to Sten Sellier and Neil Burton. Their successful ventures into politics-in-action are enhancing the business landscape in Virginia for good beer.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 6/7, 2012

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundup
A non-comprehensive roundup
of news of beer and other things.

Weeks 6/7
5 February - 18 February 2012

  • 2012.02.16
    Brewers, shop owners, restaurateurs, and distributors in Washington, D.C., all go 'off the record' to discus beer payola in the city. Via

  • 2012.02.16
    Today in 1918, Lithuania declared its independence, from Russia. More, including Lithuanian beer facts, from Brookston Beer Bulletin.

  • 2012.02.15
    New Belgium Brewing spent $250,00 on social media, and estimates that it saw a 57 million dollar return on the investment. Via Advertising Age.

  • 2012.02.15
    The European Union has issued 'organic wine' standards, from growing through production. Via

    BeerMonger's Allagash (01)
  • 2012.02.15
    U.S. beer sales topped $98 billion in 2011, a slight increase over 2010, says Beer Institite. Via Beer Street Journal.

  • 2012.02.12
    Whiskey Advocate Magazine chooses Springbank as Lowland/Campbeltown Single Malt of the Year.

    Great Falls Street (01)
  • 2012.02.12
    NASA Goddard model on what caused Smowmageddon on the East coast in the winter of 2009/2010 (and why the winter of 2011/12 has been so mild in comparison): El Niño and the North Atlantic Oscillation.

  • 2012.02.11
    Singer Whitney Houston dies at age 48. Via AOLMusic.

  • 2012.02.10
    The U.S. cider business experiences 23% growth; Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors become involved, in different ways. Via Beer Business Daily.

  • 2012.02.10
    Mark Carpenter celebrates his 40th year brewing for Anchor Brewing Company, of San Francisco, California: America's most tenured brewmaster. Via

  • 2012.02.08
    The U.S. Brewers Association has released its Beer Style Guidelines for 2012, describing 140 'styles,' and sub-categories.

  • 2012.02.08
    The Washington Post's annual Beer Madness returns for 2012, with a call for panelists to judge 32 American 'craft' brews.

  • 2012.02.08
    Virginia’s wine industry hit $747 million dollars in sales in 2011. The number of wineries reaches 193, up from 129. Via Dave McIntyre (Washington Post).

  • 2012.02.07
    John Hickenlooper —Governor of Colorado, past mayor of Denver, and 'craft' beer pioneer— celebrates 60th birthday. Via Brookston beer Bulletin.

  • 2012.02.07
    Craving a hot shower, a cold beer, and the company of "the ladies", Annapolis, Maryland, sailor Matt Rutherford is solo-circumnavigating the Americas. Via Washington Post.


  • 2012.02.06
    Baltimore, Maryland, to allow restaurants to fill re-sealable 'growlers' with beer to go. (Brewpubs already may.) The rest of Maryland may follow suit. Via Washington Post.

  • Clamps and Gaskets is a weekly wrap-up of stories  not posted at Yours For Good Most deal with beer (or wine, or whisky); some do not. But all are brief, and many are re-posts from
  • The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bonus Pic(k) of the Week: On Golden Pond

Lake Accotink (01)

Geese take flight over Lake Accotink, illuminated by the afternoon winter sun.

Lake Accotink is a 55 acre reservoir in Fairfax County, Virginia, formed by the damming of Accotink Creek. Early 17th century English settlers gave the creek its name after the largest Powhatan village in the area. In Algonquin, it can be translated as “at the end of the hill.”

Photo by Albert C. Cizauskas, Jr.
Camera: Canon EOS 40D
13 February 2012.


  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as subject. Commercial use requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.
  • It's a bonus Pic(k) of the Week, 2nd photo today, as none was posted the prior Saturday, 18 February 2012.

Pic(k) of the Week: "One" tasty 'Belgian-style' Stout

Port City's "One" Stout

Port City Brewing opened a year ago in early February 2011, in Alexandria, Virginia, the first production brewery in that city in 95 years.

To celebrate, Jonathan Reeves, the original and lead brewer, brewed One —a 'Belgian-style' strong stout of 9.5% alcohol-by-volume. Here is how he described the beer at his blog:

ONE. This is a new mash up: Belgian Imperial Stout. Stout is the first beer I fell in love with and I like its many incarnations. When I worked for Nick Funnell, at Sweetwater, he made an incredible Imperial Stout. It is one part dark chocolate, and one part Christmas pudding with flavors of dried fruit and booze. Lovely beer and Nick has won a bunch of accolades for it.

I wanted to do a twist by taking this style out of British territory and making it more Belgian. I made the character malt bill much leaner and added 1/5 of the gravity with candy sugar. I still used 6 different malts but in smaller proportions. The OG is 22p.

The hops are both European (Fuggles and Magnum) and American (Columbus and Amarillo Chinook),with almost a pound per bbl of dry hop. At 65 IBUs it is on the low end of the style, because it was intended to finish very dry, about 3.5p.

Last, it was the yeast that made it Belgian. I used a Westmalle clone; it is the same yeast we use for the Optimal Wit. There are lots of fruity and spicy flavors imparted by this monastic yeast. I taste plums and cooked apples and also spices like allspice and nutmeg, though no spices were added.

This beer fermented vigorously and was done in ten days.

The meaning of the term 'Belgian-style' is nebulous, but the implication is that a beer tagged with the designation was brewed with a yeast strain more commonly used for ales from Belgium. These strains impart distinctive flavors and aromas: phenolics, fruity esters, higher alcohols.

And, Port City Brewing's celebratory One?

Dark auburn, creamy (without nitrogen dispense,) good head retention. Tastes of chocolate-covered raisins, with secondary flavors/aromas of figs, (fresh) nutmeg, and vanilla. Finishes off-dry, absent a roasty bite.

As tasted, on draft, at ...
Rustico Restaurant Ballston
Arlington, Virginia.
10 February 2012.


  • Only one batch of One was brewed. This past Thursday morning, the brewery tweeted that "One is done!"
  • I manipulated the photo with Picnik, an on-line photo editing site. I removed some of the indoor orange-red tint, and finished with a Vignette effect. Even so, that is indeed the color of the beer: dark auburn, almost black. See the un-retouched original: here. Picnik is to be discontinued by Google on 19 April 2012.
  • More beer reviews at Drinking, Again.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as subject. Commercial use requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Birthday in Beer: SPBW Baltimore!

Cask-conditioned real ale is beer that, while still fermenting, has been placed into a cask, brought into proper 'condition,' and then tapped and drunk mere DAYS later. It is beer at its freshest.

Beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide.
The Oxford Companion to Beer

In 1960s Britain, cask ale was under threat. Breweries were abandoning it for filtered keg beer. In the United States, cask ale was already extinct. So, in 1963, "seven disgruntled beer drinkers" founded the Society for the Preservation of Beer from the Wood (aka SPBW) to preserve and promote cask ale in Britain.

Today, in 2012, wooden casks may be rare, but not so cask ale. It is thriving, both in the UK and here in the United States. The SPBW has retained its name and mission (if not in wood, as most casks, called firkins, are stainless steel.)

In North America, there is only one chapter of the SPBW: the SPBW Chesapeake Chapter, based in Baltimore, Maryland. The group promotes cask-conditioned real ale throughout the area, via education, monthly meetings (at pubs featuring cask ale), and events such as its yearly Chesapeake Real Ale Festival.

Society for the Preservation of Beer From the Wood

Here's an email I recently received from Joe Gold, the sales manager for Heavy Seas Brewing, in Baltimore, Maryland. Fifteen years ago, tomorrow, he called to order the first ever meeting of the SPBW Chesapeake Chapter.
Saturday, February 25th marks the 15th Anniversary of the Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the SPBW —the Society for the Preservation of Beer From the Wood— and we would like to invite all past and present members to join our host Jen Oliver at The Wharf Rat, 801 S. Ann Street, in Fells Point, Baltimore, Maryland, at 'high noon,' as we give a tip of the cap, and tip a pint, to the organization and all its members over the past 15 years.

As the instigator and founding member of the Chesapeake Bay Chapter, I’ve had the ideal of this club in my heart ever since it’s inception. Unfortunately life has a way of getting in the way of important occasions – and thus I will have to miss Saturday’s event. However, in my absence, I would like to ask that you give a heart felt shout out to the SPBW leadership over the years – and the oh, so many loyal SPBW members who have kept this most British concept alive in the only North American chapter in existence.

Joe Gold

I would also respectfully like you to please note publicly the list of folks who were at the very first SPBW meeting, at the Wharf Rat, on February 25th, 1997:

Bill Oliver
Gary Williams
Frank Foster
Dick & Barbara McQuate
Mike Shetz & Katherine
Colin ?
Alan Feldman & Deb
Ron R
Ron DeGrange & Mary Anne Straughn
Cheri & Matt Hahn
Richer & Steve
John Frantz
Tom Baker
Andy Firman & Jen O’Neil
Robb Reyes
Angela Perez-Mera
David ?
Additional others – but the hand writing in my beer journal isn’t legible.

It is with regret that I have to miss what I consider a most important milestone event, but I’m sure the SPBW crew will have a wonderful time this Saturday. Be assured that I’ll be hosting a pint at 'high noon' in honor of the “simple pleasure of enjoying cask conditioned real ale.”

Joe Gold

In 1997, the cost of SPBW Chespaeake membership was $10. It's the same today. By any measure, that was a bargain then, and even more so now. Attendance at Saturday's 12 noon toast at the Wharf Rat is not limited to members, but membership is encouraged.

Pint & Beads

Happy 15th birthday, SPBW Chesapeake Chapter!

  • Photos from the anniversary toast: here.
  • The web address for the Baltimore, Maryland, SPBW is spbw.ORG, whereas, for the parent organization in the UK, it's spbw.COM.
  • A firkin, to be precise, is a cask that contains 9 UK gallons of beer. That's the quivalent of 10.8 US gallons, or about 86 US 16-ounce pints. More on cask volumes: here.
  • I've reprinted the email with permission, and edited it for narrative clarity.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

VeggieDag Thursday: Quick Links for February 2012.

VeggieDag Thursday
VeggieDag is an occasional Thursday post on an animal-free diet and its issues.

Quick Links:
  • A common myth about vegetarianism "But, where do you get your protein?" Via Happy Herbivore:
    As long as you are eating a variety of healthy plant-based foods, you will not only get enough protein, but enough essential amino acids as well, with no worries about having to pair or complement certain foods together.

  • Maple Sage Walnuts. Recipe via Grabbing the Gusto.

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has published a new list of USDA's new "plant hardiness" zones, the first update since 1990. Via the Kojo Nnamdi Show: What might grow best in your DC/MD/VA backyard.

  • The European Union has issued official and legal standards for 'organic wine,' from grape growing to wine production. Via Just Drinks.

  • Study finds people in north Peru ate popcorn as early 4700BC. Via BBC.

  • Popcorn Cauliflower: roasted!
  • Recipe for Cauliflower 'Popcorn.'

  • Eat chocolate? Drink beer, says Seattle Weekly.

  • World cacao crop threatened by fungal disease, climate, farming practices. Via Diane Rehm Show. And, good news about chocolate, via Kojo Nnamdi Show.

  • Three vegetarian recipes for Super Bowl watching, including Beer Chili.

  • In 2009, Americans ate more meat per capita than 1971, but less red meat.
    Like the bomb, [Mark Bittman] said, the cow will "determine not only the length of our individual lives but whether, if we could see the earth a century from now, we'd recognize it.
    Via The Progressive Farmer.

  • Fight a cold virus with spicy soup: chiles, tomatoes, limes, garlic. Recipe at Mother Jones.


  • VeggieDag is an occasional Thursday post on vegetarian issues. Why the name? Here.
  • Prior VeggieDag Thursday posts: here. Follow on Twitter: #VeggieDag.
  • Logo by Tom Lee, beer columnist for Baltimore Examiner.
  • Suggestions and submissions from chefs and homecooks: welcomed!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Birthday in Beer: Lew Bryson

Lew Bryson isn't a brewer, but he counts many as his friends. Indeed, for two decades, he has been a friend to all 'craft' brewers through his craft. Mr. Bryson writes —and writes— about good beer (and whisky).

Bryson is managing editor of Whisky Advocate Magazine; a regular writer on beer for Ale Street News and Massachusetts Beverage Business magazine; the writer of a witty, sometimes hilarious, and always insightful beer blog --Seen Through a Glass; and the author of four guidebooks to regional breweries and good beer bars: Pennsylvania Breweries, Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Breweries, New York Breweries, and New Jersey Breweries; a campaigner for session beer and against arcane alcohol laws.

Session Beer Project

As if that weren't enough, Bryson has a new project in production. When completed, American Beer Blogger will be a video series devoted to the American 'craft beer' scene.

Bryson's oeuvre is impressive, and on-going. But, hands-down, he is the man with the best laugh in the 'craft beer' business: an honest-to-goodness infectious from-the-belly guffaw. Today, hoist a good beer, and with a good, loud, chuckle, toast Lew Bryson. It's his birthday.

08_Tyler's Taproom
Bryson, in center.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pic(k) of the Week: Bootlegger's Beer Dinner 2012

Bootlegger's Beer Dinner 2012

The remains of a successful beer dinner ...

The 2nd annual Bootlegger's Beer Dinner, sponsored by, at Smith Commons Restaurant, in Washington, D.C. Five beers not normally found in the city were 'imported' via the internet, and served, each paired with a different course.

31 January 2012.

Chicken Wings in Duck Fat, with Gorgonzola-Apple Glaze

First Course
Lime & Orange Macaroons / Foie Gras Mousse
Paired with Lost Abbey (San Marcos, California):
Inferno Ale pale ale (8.5% alcohol-by-volume).

Second Course
Goat Cheese Ravioli / Duo of Raisin Purée & Citrus Pop Rocks
Paired with Hair of the Dog (Portland, Oregon):
Fred strong ale (10% alcohol-by-volume).

Third Course
Braised Pork Belly / Coffee Migas, House Smoked Bacon Lardon, Smoked Espuma
Paired with Alaskan Brewing (Juneau, Alaska):
Smoked Porter porter (6.5% alcohol-by-volume.)

Fourth Course
Sous Vide Shrimp Dumplings / Dashi, Quail & Yuzu
Paired with Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, Florida):
Guava Grove saison (8% alcohol-by-volume).

Dessert Course
Coconut Pudding / Lavender Ice Cream, Vanilla, Dried Caramel
Paired with Alchemist Brewery (Middlebury, Vermont):
Heady Topper IPA (8% alcohol-by-volume)

Flying Dog Brewery (Frederick, Maryland):
2008 vintage Horn Dog Barleywine (10.2% alcohol-by-volume).


  • I manipulated the photo using the CinemaScope effect from Picnik, an on-line photo editing site. See the un-retouched original: here. Picnik is to be discontinued by Google on 19 April 2012.
  • See more photos from the dinner, all courses and beers: here.
  • Unlike most other states and cities, D.C. is liberal (small 'l') when it comes to the availability of beer, wine, and spirits. Bars, restaurants, or shops with a liquor license can act as their own importer of alcoholic products. Read more from the Washington City Paper: here.
  • Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as subject. Commercial use requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

YOU can assist Virginia breweries. Support SB604 ...TODAY.

If you're a fan of local breweries —of local Virginia breweries— please consider taking a few minutes to register your support of a simple bill currently in front of the Virginia Senate which, if passed and signed, would allow Virginia breweries (almost all of whom are 'craft' breweries) to pour samples for customers at their facilities during tours and to sell beer-to-go.

The Virginia General Assembly is currently in session. There is a bill, SB604, before the Senate that would greatly benefit many of the craft breweries in Virginia. This bill will be heard in the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services committee this Friday, February 10th at 8:30am.

SB604 allows a brewery licensee to sell beer at retail at premises described in the brewery license for on-premises consumption and in closed containers for off-premises consumption. In layman’s terms, production breweries would be allowed to sell pints to customers. If passed, you could tour a Virginia brewery and enjoy a pint afterwards, much like how you can enjoy a glass of wine at a Virginia winery. More importantly, this would put us on even footing with some of our neighboring states.

If you're a Virginia citizen, contact your state Senator and ask them to support SB604. Find your state legislator online: here.

Thank you,
Mike Killelea
Chairman – Virginia Craft Brewers Guild

Support Virginia Senate Bill 604

The Virginia Craft Brewers Guild is an association of small breweries in Virginia. As a member of a larger state group, the Virginia Manufacturers Association, it brought this alert to the attention of the Brewers Association, the national advocacy group for small breweries in the United States (defined as, among other criteria, producing less than 6 million barrels per year).

UPDATE 29 February 2012.
Committees in both the Virginia House and Senate have unanimously approved the bill. It now goes to the full floors of both.

A hat tip to the many Tweeters who support Virginia beer, and who alerted me and many others to this bill. A list would include, among others, @VA_BeerGeek, @RVABeerMan, @BarlowBrewing, @RobSmithiii, @HopGoddess76, @RVABeerMeister.

BYOW in VA & DC, NOT in MD

If the government wrote a law, would anyone notice? In his blog, WineLine, Dave McIntyre—who also writes a wine column for the Washington Post— posted this yesterday:

[In Virginia], it is legal for restaurants to allow customers to bring their own wine for dinner. The practice, called “corkage,” was legalized in Virginia last July 1 [2011]. But hardly anyone – restaurants or customers – knows about it.

Virginia's law sets no requirements on how much (or a how little) a restaurant may charge (the so-called corkage fee) or on whether or not the restaurant is required to allow a customer to bring in wine. That decision still remains with the individual restaurant.

I contacted two restaurateurs —one in Richmond, Virginia, and one in northern Virginia— for their opinions on the law change.

Julia Battaglini is the proprietor of Secco Wine Bar in Richmond, Virginia. She wrote:
As many of you may have heard, Virginia passed a law such that, as of July 1st, 2011, ABC-licensed restaurants may choose to allow diners to bring in their own wine and charge a "corkage" fee. After much thought, gnashing of teeth and heated debate, I have decided that Secco Wine Bar will offer a corkage option to our patrons at a $20 fee. HOWEVER, if that bottle comes from River City Cellars [next-door wine shop] we will offer a discounted corkage fee of only $10.

While I have pretty strong feelings as a restaurant owner (and the person who spends half her waking hours agonizing over and maintaining a list of 50+ uncommon, small-production, terroir-driven selections meant to match Chef Tim's ever changing food menu), I also realize there are special, rare bottles in this world meant to be shared, and a pretty rockin' wine shop right next door.

I do, however, reserve the right to trounce anyone who shows up with two buck chuck.

Photo courtesy Julia Battaglini

Adam Roth operates his restaurant, Argia's, in Falls Church, a jurisdiction found only eight miles from Washington, D.C., where BYOW and corkage fees have long been allowed. He said:
I'm all for the corkage law. Who knows how much business northern Virginia restaurants have lost to D.C. before it was passed. We've had people take advantage of it already in just one week. There is no good reason that it shouldn't be allowed. Hopefully, there is more reform to come to Virginia 'Blue laws' that really hurt Virginia businesses and the Commonwealth's tax payers.

We charge a $20 flat fee with no limit on bottles (within reason and propriety). Free corkage on Tuesday nights.

Restaurants mark up the price of wine (and beer and spirits) to cover costs of food and labor and rent). Thus, the cost of one's meal is the cost of the entire restaurant 'experience' —and for not having to wash the dishes. That being said, a customer who brings in a bottle of wine is indeed a customer, one who otherwise may not have been one.

A similar proposal in Maryland failed in 2011, opposed, ironically, by the Maryland Restaurant Association. But, in a gloriously inane exception, Maryland restaurants that do not have a liquor license are permitted to allow customers to bring in their own wine.

Bauer Grüner Veltliner

But, what if you wanted to take an unfinished bottle of wine home with you?

As long the bottle were securely resealed, that would be okay in Maryland. If you were in Washington, D.C., that would be legal as long the restaurant 'officially' re-sealed the bottle. But ... don't do it in Virginia! You'd be in violation of the 'open-container' law.


  • The National Restaurant Association has published a pdf of the current state of 're-seal' wine laws: here.
  • I'm several months tardy with this post. Battaglini and Roth both gave me their opinions soon after the law was passed in July.
  • Re-sealable beer? That's another tale for another day.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Clamps & Gaskets: News Roundup for Weeks 4/5, 2012

Clamps and Gaskets: weekly roundup
A non-comprehensive roundup
of news of beer and other things.

Weeks 4/5
22 January - 4 February 2012

  • 2012.02.04
    Max's Taphouse, in Baltimore, Maryland, to hold its 8th annual Belgian Beer Fest, 17-19 February: 200 different draft beers, 275 different Belgian bottled beers. The draft list, via The Original BeerinBaltimore blog.

  • 2012.02.03
    The Craft Brewers Conference to be held in Washington, D.C., in 2013. As a result, the Brewers Association may be considering temporarily moving SAVOR, the annual beer-with-food exposition to New York City. Via DCBeer.

  • 2012.02.03
    The entire Alan Lomax Folk Collection will be available for streaming, beginning in February, from the Association for Cultural Qquity. Via TechCrunch.

  • 2012.02.03
    Blue Marble 2012, a photo of Earth's western hemisphere, taken by NASA satellite Suomi NPP, and posted by the Goddard Space Center, had 3.1 million views after one week: the most views ever for one Flickr photo in a one week period.

  • 2012.02.03
    The Obama administration is considering eliminating the TTB, the agency currently in charge of US alcohol law regulation, and splitting its duties between the IRS and the FDA. Via The Gray Report.

  • 2012.02.02
    Americans ate more meat per capita in 2009 than 1971, but less red meat. Via The Progressive Farmer.

  • 2012.02.01
    Facebook files for IPO to raise $5 billion. Via Yahoo Finance News.

  • 2012.02.01
    We wish you love, peace, and soul, Mr. Cornelius. 'Soul Train' host Don Cornelius dies at 75. Via WUSA9.

  • 2012.02.01
    Joy in repetition. America's minimalist master Philip Glass celebrates his 75th birthday. Via NPR Classical.

    Yuengling tin
  • 2012.01.29
    The top 20 selling beers in the US for 2011, according to Symphony/IRI (supermarket sales). No craft beers, as defined by the Brewers Association, but at No. 19 is Yuengling Lager. Via The Business Journal.

  • 2012.01.29
    How and why cider has fizz (or doesn't). Via Cider Apprentice.

  • 2012.01.28
    Analyst downgrades Molson/Coors stock due to reduced buying power of unemployed young males and due to increasing sales of "specialty craft" beers. Via CBS News.

  • 2012.01.27
    Twitter to block specific tweets on a country-by-country basis when the content runs afoul of local laws, but keep those Tweets visible in the rest of the world. On-line protest — #TwitterBlackout — develops against "censorship." Via Washington Post.

  • 2012.01.27
    Washington, D.C. ranks as most literate city in nation, over prior top cities, Seattle and Minneapolis, in list compiled by Central Connecticut State University. Via WTOP.

    A pint of ale
  • 2012.01.27
    "The pint glass is an outdated relic ... that shows little love for the liquid inside." Opinion piece from The Guardian.

  • 2012.01.27
    Independent filmmaker J.R. Richards producing Beer Hunter, a documentary movie about the late beer writer Michael Jackson.

  • 2012.01.26
    Proposed Maryland bill to create a license category for farm breweries. Requires that a percentage of a beer's ingredients must be grown on farm. Via Harford Dagger.

  • 2012.01.25
    Sierra Nevada top operate a 2nd brewery in Asheville, North Carolina; to receive $3.75 million in "economic incentives" over seven years. Beer writer Lew Bryson offers perspective.

  • 2012.01.25
    Washington, D.C. experiences rapid growth in brewery development. Via Washington Post.

  • 2012.01.24
    The Neighborhood Restaurant Group, parent organization to beer bar ChurchKey, announces Megan Parisi —past lead brewer for Cambridge Brewing of Massachusetts— as head brewer for The Yards, an upcoming production brewery (and restaurant) near Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Via Washington Post.

    SAVOR crowd
  • 2012.01.24
    Brewers Association announces slate of 60 breweries selected to participate in Savor, a national beer-with-food exposition, to be held in Washington, D.C., 8/9 June 2012. [Eight breweries in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia included.]

  • 2012.01.24
    A discussion on what defines West Coast IPA? Point-of-origin, hop bitterness, hop flavor, hop variety, unbalance? Via Beervana.

  • 2012.01.24
    AB-InBev President Dave Peacock resigns, the last major official from before the Belgian/Brazilian buyout. Company demands its distributors stop concentrating on "competing brands." Via Brookston Beer Bulletin.

  • 2012.01.23
    "Every town should have a brewery." —Charlie Papazian: 'craft' beer pioneer, homebrew guru, founder of Brewers Association. His 63rd birthday, today. Via Brookston Beer Bulletin.

  • 2012.01.23
    Why the "Protect IP Act" (PIPA) and the "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) were dangerous for free speech, why they were NOT the way to fight on-line property piracy, and how and why Congress will try again. Via O'Reilly Radar.

  • Clamps and Gaskets is a weekly wrap-up of stories  not posted at Yours For Good Most deal with beer (or wine, or whisky); some do not. But all are brief, and many are re-posts from
  • The Clamps and Gaskets graphic was created by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Beer ads you won't see during the Super Bowl

First: a short from Breckenridge Brewery, of Colorado: a sendup of Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man in the World ad. (If Dos Quis is indeed so refreshing, why would one "stay thirsty"?)

Then, longer at four minutes and twenty-six seconds ...

Budweiser has its gauzy ads featuring Clydesdales horses. Deschutes Brewery, of Oregon, offers, instead, Landmarks, a video featuring a banjo, an adventure in the Oregon woods, and a skinny-dipping young woman.

Finally ...

Why is it you won't see any 'craft' beer ads during the Super Bowl?

"Are you kidding? The big brewers are 80 times our size," says Jim Koch, president and founder of Boston Beer. "Advertising on the Super Bowl is out of our league when one ad costs $3.5 million. Our money is better spent on hops."

The flat reality of craft beer is that despite all the growth within the industry and excitement about its future, craft and regional brewers still make up only about 5% of all beer sold in the United States, according to the Brewers Association. Anheuser-Busch could spill Boston Beer's 2.3 million during the course of the year and still produce nearly 100 million barrels.

The Street


  • Thanks to Stan Hieronymus, at whose blog, Appellation Beer, I was first alerted to these videos.
  • Watch more Truths In Beervertising vids from Breckenridge, including a sendup of a Corona ad: here.
  • At A Good Beer Blog, Alan McLeod found the Deschutes video "creepy."
  • Fun facts about beer and food consumption during the Super Bowl, and a couple of recipes: here.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Pic(k) of the Week: New York State of Bass (Ale)

How far the mighty have fallen.

Bass Ale —once a mighty engine of the British industrial revolution, and brewed in Burton-on-Trent in the U.K.— is now owned by the Belgian-Brazilian conglomerate, Anheuser-Busch InBev. Founded in 1777, Bass has not existed as an independent company since the year 2000.

For the U.S. market, AB InBev brews Bass Pale Ale in ... Baldwinsville, upstate New York.

New York State of Bass

Bottle seen in a beer and wine shop in northern Virginia.
14 January 2012.

Pic(k) of the Week: one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as subject. Commercial use requires explicit permission, as per Creative Commons.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

VeggieDag Thursday: Veggie Bowl XLVI

Glug, glug, glug ...

VeggieDag Thursday
VeggieDag is an occasional Thursday post on an animal-free diet and its issues.

In 2008, Americans drank 50 million cases of beer on Super Bowl Sunday, according to data compiled by Nielsen. That's the equivalent of 1.2 billion 12-ounce bottles (or cans). The actual total volume of beer consumed would have been even greater than that, because Neilsen's data excluded beer served at restaurants, bars, or at the University of Phoenix Stadium (site of Super Bowl XLII, when the New York Giants upset the favored New England Patriots).

Super Bowl XLVI

Even so, the Super Bowl was only the 8th highest beer selling occasion for the year. Neilsen's methodology was to include sales data for the days surrounding the event. The end to January and beginning to February are slow for consumer purchases.

Nom, nom, nom ...
To accompany the beer they drank while watching the Super Bowl, Americans consumed more than 100 million pounds of chicken wings, the equivalent of 1.25 billion wing portions (acording to the National Chicken Council). But, fret not, animal-flesh abstainers. According to the Hass Avocado Board, Americans consumed more than 49 million pounds of guacamole during the 2008 Super Bowl.

Here are a few recipe ideas for Super Bowl XLVI.

Growler of fresh local beer?

Essential Pale Ale


Green Bean & Dill Pickle Spread

Green Bean Paté (03)


Meatless Beer Chili

Veggie Beer Chili




  • The top eight 'beer' days, in order from first to last, as compiled by Nielsen in 2008, were: Independence Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Fathers Day, Christmas/New Year's, Thanksgiving, and ... Easter (think college spring break). The Super Bowl ranks eighth.
  • A recipe for Hop Hummus: here.
  • A tale of meat chili gone wrong: here.
  • VeggieDag is an occasional Thursday post on vegetarian issues. Why the name? Here.
  • Prior VeggieDag Thursday posts: here. Follow on Twitter: #VeggieDag.
  • Suggestions and submissions from chefs and homecooks: welcomed!