If you are a consistent BadskiBlog reader you know that my posts can give our politicians a pretty hard time. Don't feel too bad for those guys just yet, they are doing just fine. Besides what is more patriotic than being critical of your elected officials? If you aren't a watch dog who is going to be? With that said I am always willing to give credit where credit is due and that is why I am pleased to present all you readers with some great news regarding a trend in recent legislation. Ben Franklin once said that "beer is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy." Well it seems like our nation's leaders are taking a page from the playbook of leaders past and instituting legislation that's striding farther and farther from the prohibition days.
As state lawmakers work on a budget that raises North Carolinians' taxes and slashes the services they use, they're also poised to offer something to offset some of the pain — free beer.
While wine tastings have become commonplace, states from Vermont to Texas to Washington have moved to let people take a sip of a cold one before deciding what brand to buy.
Beneficiaries include microbreweries that sometimes have few other ways to advertise. "One of the big benefits of a tasting is it allows a brewer to make a face-to-face connection with the person enjoying the beer," says Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association.
I am actually going to a beer tasting tonight at PJ Whelihans Bar and Grill in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The event is being hosted by a friend of mine who works for a wine distributor who has recently seen a large increase in demand for beer distribution. I have come across a few articles in the past that are speaking about the huge market share capture of the microbrew industry. I think that the new generation of beer drinkers are beginning to turn the industry into one that is very similar to the wine industry. People enjoy pairing it with different foods, are becoming educated on the different types, and are creating a social scene around a common love of beer. Good ol' Ben Franklin would be proud. Not everyone is thrilled with this trend, especially the large American breweries. However this is not always the case.
Tastings also can give an edge to larger breweries with the staff to make the rounds, Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association says.
Vermont started allowing beer tastings last year, one year after authorizing similar events for wine, says George Bergin, owner of the Beverage Warehouse in Winooski, Vt.
"Beer tastings are probably our most popular events, more so than wine," Bergin says. "We will have people standing in line for four hours to try beer."
Luckily for beer drinkers many legislators are not giving in to those resistant to relaxed laws on beer tastings.
Few North Carolina lawmakers have opposed the bipartisan effort to allow beer tastings, despite some objections. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League of North Carolina says beer, unlike wine, is the beverage of choice for underage drinkers.
Rep. Thom Tillis, a Charlotte Republican, assured lawmakers that tastings wouldn't attract minors used to cheap beer. Milwaukee's Best, he says, is unlikely to be on the menu.
I agree with Rep. Tillis. I actually worked as a volunteer at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver while I was in college and although the crowd was lively, there was little to no disturbing behavior and no underage drinking. The experience was a great one built around camaraderie and a love of beer. The thing about tastings is that the brewers interests are aligned with creating a positive atmosphere without pushing the boundaries of legality.
I have made you aware of this great shift in beer drinking freedom, now go forth and make Ben proud, and enjoy some free beer.