Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Odd bits – Dogfish pumpkin ale at Monk’s Kettle in San Francisco, More worries about AB 1245

By William Brand
Friday, September 26th, 2008 at 1:48 pm in Uncategorized.

Oddbits… Just talked with Nat Cutler at Monk’s Kettle, the neeat Belgian-style cafe at 3141 16th St. in the Mission in San Francisco. Yes they have Dogfish Head Punkin (yes Punkin, not Pumpkin) Ale on tap: $3.75, in a 10-oz. tulip-shaped glass. They also have Dogfish 90 Minute IPA in bottles and a wild assortment of craft and Belgian beer on tap. If you’ve never visited this cozy, friendly, neighborhood bistro, make it a stop, its an excellent place.

Details are emerging (and the poster above) on the Oakland Oktoberfest being held next Saturday, Oct. 4 from 11 a.m. -6 p.m. in the Dinond District at MacArthur Boulevard and Fruitvale Avenue.  The beer garden will feature brews from Pacific Coast, Linden Street, Trumer, Berkeley and Triple Rock and most likely many more.

The district once had four beer gardens so in an effort to reclaim history, there’s going to be a beer garden (and a root beer garden for kids).

Entrance to the beer garden is $10, which buys a commemorative glass stein and one full pint or four, four ounce tastes. This is going to be a way cool event. People who live in the Dimond neighborhood are really attached to it and lots of things are happening.

...Haven’t seen it yet, but Don Russell, who writes the Joe Sixpack column in the Philadelphia Daily News has a new book coming out: Christmas Beers: The Cheeriest, Tastiest and Most Unusual Holiday Brews (Universe, 2008)

It’s due out sometime this fall. Here’s blurb from the press release:

  • Christmas Beers ranks the “50 Best Christmas Beers,” with Harrisburg, PA brewery Troeg’s “Mad Elf” coming in number one;  offers reviews of 150 plus Christmas brews;  and provides home brewing recipes for ambitious readers who want to try their hand at the winter warmer brewing tradition.
    The book also shines a spotlight on cultural reactions to mixing Christmas and beer, examining how advertising has adapted to regulations forbidding the inclusion of children’s characters, such as Santa Claus, on beer labels.  Beers that have been banned in some American states, including the English import “Santa’s Butt,” are also explored.

Great idea for a book, huh. But Troeg’s as the best Christmas beer? Hmmm, sounds Philadelphia-centric too me.

Have you heard about AB 1245, the bill now on the governor’s desk, passed over the stringent opposition of craft brewers, that greatly increases how much money and how much product brewers can give away to boost their beer?

The gubinator may be about to sign the damn thing, but riding in like the Lone Rangers at the 11th hour and 59th minute is the California Coalition on Alcopops and Youth, an ad-hoc, non-profit that includes the Girl Scouts, the  California Council on Alcohol Problems and many others with similar feelings.

AB 1245  would increase the industry’s marketing and promotional item limits for “freebies” by 1200 percent, the coalition says. It’s one thing if the bill becomes law that Anheuser-Busch could give out free samples of Bud and all the many Bud-like accoutrements in vast quantities. But when one starts thinking about “alcopops,” those sugary sweet, fermented  drinks laced with alcohol.

The bill, coalition attorney Fred Jones, would allow boozemakers to target youth markets in a big way and that’s something the coalition (and most of the rest of us) oppose.  Remember Joe Camel? He didn’t say that, I did.

If you agree, do this: Send Arnold an e-mail. Tell him to veto the damn thing.

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  • Derrick

    Couldn’t AB 1245 allow a craft brewer to give out things like T-shirts and ball caps to promote their beers locally, to give them better exposure that they could before. And how come the craft brewing scene in Colorado does well, where no value restrictions exist for any brewer give away? If this would kill craft brewers, why are they still standing in Colorado? Why is this being automatically viewed as a negative?

    Let’s give craft brewers a new opportunity to promote their products and ask Arnold to endorse it!

  • danny

    the point is that AB will be able to put out so much stuff that the craft brewers can’t compete. as far as I remember they were against it.

    william: do you have any or responses fomr the craft industry themselves?

  • Piercival

    I’m in marketing for a small CA craft brewer. Make no mistake – AB 1245 will favor the big industrial brewers with huge marketing budgets to the detriment to craft beer.

    As to Derrick’s comment above, it won’t kill craft brewers – at least not all of them – but it will impact them. As it is we try to use our budgets without “buying” our customers. Which means we tend to be more inclined to pour some donated beer at a charity event than hand out tons of free swag. We also do it by spending that money on making tastier beers. Think about who benefits more from those things(unless you are -as I suspect- a shill for one of the industrial brewers, in which case you already have).

    The big brewers — BudMillerCoors use these types of gimmicks to compensate for less interesting beers. Not surprisingly the younger less experienced customers are more inclined to be influenced by such giveaways.

    If this passes, watch the alcopop brewers such as Diageo-Guinness and BudMillerCoors flood the on-premise with this stuff. They do it anyway, but without any oversight it will be a real circus.

    Please write or email the Gov to oppose this bill which is unfair to small business and bad for the industry.

  • Derrick

    Well Piercival, let’s get one thing straight. I’m a craft beer drinker, and have no affiliation with industrial brewers, and rarely drink their products. Is suggesting a craft beer drinker might be a corporate shill because he does not agree you something a craft beer marketing person should be doing?

    At any rate, distilleries have a five dollar give-away limit in CA, so the industrial brewers are lobbying for a three dollar giveaway limit, not totally because they have good, fun loving craft brewers in their targets, but because they have evil, big industrial distilleries in their targets.

    Colorado has quite possible, a larger craft brewing industry the California, and under the shadow of Coors, which no restrictions on beer give aways, the craft beer scene appears to be doing well.
    Coors can advertise at sports events, on billboards, in magazines, on TV in ways a craft brewer simply can’t afford. So what is a craft brewery to do in Colorado? Well, I’m not in beer marketing, but they could go to local bars, events, and give away items to promote their products. Lots of businesses the size of craft breweries do this, so I don’t understand why craft breweries can’t. But some of the marketing options a craft brewer has to compete are taken away in California. Is that really a benefit to the craft brewing industry here? Wouldn’t a craft brewer want more opportunities to promote their products, not less?

    I suspect that since CA and CO has strong craft brewing scenes, and have polar opposite regulations on beer marketing give aways, whether or not AB 1245 passes will have little effect. But if it does pass, perhaps Piercival could take it as an opportunity to grow his companies business.

  • Derrick

    Correction: In my last message, I meant to say “Colorado may possibly have a larger craft brewing industry per capita than California” Obviously, CA brewing scene is bigger.

  • William Brand

    Derrick… Colorado may actually have more breweries per capita, sInce the population is fairly small…4.7 million and California is humungous: 36.4 million, (these are 2006 estimates).

    Let’s see… Colorado has at least…113 breweries, while California has 291. (Whew, that’s my count of the Brewers Association lists for the two states.) OK, you do the math. For breweries per 1,000 people, Colorado wins!

  • William Brand

    The Craft Brewers association says only Anheuser-Busch supports it. Miller and Coors are neutral, apparently. But figuring Arnold’s a Republican, he’ll probably sing the bill into law. Send him an email.

  • William Brand

    Oh hit the send button too soon. yes. the Craft Beer association has lots to say. I did a post a while back:

  • William Brand

    Replying to Derrick’s earlier comment that perhaps AB 1245 could help craft brewers too. Sierra Nevada and New Belgium and some of the other larger craft brewers might be OK. But none of them have the budgets of the big national brewers.

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  • LocalBeer

    Derrick, you sure seem to know and parrot A-B’s arguments for AB 1245 in a fairly literate manner. Are you sure you’re not with A-B? The fact is small brewers in Colorado do not appreciate the higher giveaway limits in their home state. I know one of the largest craft brewers in Colorado has said publicly in a recent hearing that they have been disadvantaged in market placements. The fact is the institutional brewers have used these higher limits with “payola-like” effectiveness in Colorado.

    As far as the target of A-B and their legislation AB 1245 — make no mistake it is NOT the “evil distilleries” like they say. The fact is their beer market-share has been significantly reduced in recent years by craft and import beer. Is it any mystery why AB 1245 sets a limit of $3 that is too high for most craft brewers and then keeps the “imports” who have the $$$ to compete at $.25/item? I think not!!

    This bill is classic special interest legislation written in a manner to give one industry player an advantage over others. Plain and simple.

  • Derrick

    Frankly, I don’t think AB 1245 is really going to effect craft brewing one way or another, since if a modest $3.00 give-away limits for breweries will obliterate craft brewing in CA, no limits would have done so in CO already. And I’m a little confused, because so many local businesses in other industries compete effectively with much larger companies, with no give away limits in their industries, why can’t craft brewing compete in the same way. (I work for a 20 person company who competes against two publicly held companies. Keep the faith, it can be done.)

    In my opinion, ABC Craft Brewing Company should be a lot more worried about what Sierra Neveda, Stone, or Lagunitas is doing, than Coors or InBev is doing.

    But for those who think I’m with the bad boys, my full name is “Derrick William Peterman”, and I was born June 13, 1967. This is enough information to check my employment record. Time to put up or shut up for those would like to denounce me as a fraud.

  • William Brand

    Not to worry Derick. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I honestly don’t know the answer. I just tend to always support the craft beer industry. The smaller size brewers provide variety and they’re local. That’s their niche. Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams are in another league, but it’s still a tiny league compared to A-B and Miller/Coors.

  • Chuck Purvis


    The Governor signed the AB 1245 – Torrico bill, into law.

    It’s hidden part-way down in his 9/30/08 press release:

    I guess I’m not too concerned, since I don’t frequent pubs or brewpubs that serve A-B or Miller-Coors products. And I don’t need any more beer-schwag keychains. It will be interesting to see how this pans out, with the Belgians from InBev now calling the shots for A-B.

  • William Brand

    Thanks for the update Chuck. I knew the guv would sign it. Republicans always see nothing wrong with something like this; they simply love big corporations and don’t believe in regulations. Guess they’ve never been kicked in the ass by a bully.

  • TheEcoMag

    William, this could actually be a good thing for CA residents. If Anheuser-Busch, Diageo, Miller, Coors, Heineken, and even the smaller breweries would all start giving away Eco-Friendly products that help the environment as well as market their brands, they would all be helping to make CA a better place to live.

  • William Brand

    What difference wold “eco friendly” products make/ And what do you mean my “eco friendly” .. beer openers that are compostable?