The March Toward Summer: May 2015 Beertography

bud_camera

May is inching toward its end, which means it’s time for my monthly roundup of beertography.

Below you’ll find some of my recent photos, which you may also come across on my Instagram page, Twitter account or even Untappd. If you like these, you can find more beertography on Instagram or in my running archive.

Let’s see what May had to offer…

Catawba Brewing Peanut Butter Jelly Time – Adult Order from the Kids Menu

catawba-peanut butter jelly time-beer-craft beer-beertography

Sam Adams Rebel Rouser – Trouble Maker

sam adams-rebel rouser-double ipa-india pale ale-beer-craft beer-beertography

Adroit Theory Blvck Celebration – Celebrate Good Times

adroit theory-blvck celebration-porter-beer-craft beer-beertography

Wicked Weed TakeTake – Finders Keepers

wicked weed-taketake-saison-farmhouse-beer-craft beer-beertography

Widmer Brothers Hefe Shandy – Feels Like Summer

widmer brothers-widmer-hefe-hefeweizen-hefe shandy-beer-craft beer-beertography

Here’s hoping June will be just as fruitful as the last few weeks. As always, you can go back to see previous beertography posts:

Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

Beer Money: Does It Matter How You Spend Your Dollars?

United_States_Capitol_beer

There’s a good chance that if you read this blog, you’ve come across the work by Friend of the Program Christopher Barnes, who runs I Think About Beer.

Back in January, after news broke of AB InBev purchasing Seattle’s Elysian Brewing on the heels of also buying Bend, Oregon’s 10 Barrel Brewing, he shared his point of view on the matter in the post “Why It Matters Who Owns the Brewery.”

In a roundabout way, the experiment of the past week has been a logical extension of his essay, which points out the potential spending pattern should you provide your dollars to one company over others: it helps them push an agenda.

Continue reading

Beer Money: National Beer Wholesalers Association

national beer wholesalers association

What’s going on here? Read this post to find outAll charts below are clickable to enlarge.

Campaign finance, from 1989 through Q2 2014: $41,822,766

Lobbying:

  • $10,530,752 all time
  • $2,075,000 2013-2014
  • 2013-14 spending was 19.7 percent of all time amount
    Source

2013-14 Cycle

Individual contributions:

national beer wholesalers association donations reps 2013-14 cycle

Political Action Committee contributions:

national beer wholesalers association donations PAC 2013-14 cycle

All Time

Individual contributions:

national beer wholesalers association donations reps all time

Political Action Committee contributions:

national beer wholesalers association donations PAC all time

Over last seven years, top-five party committees have been:

  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: $124,000
  • Republican National Committee: $75,000
  • National Republican Congressional Committee: $60,000
  • Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: $45,000
  • National Republican Senatorial Committee: $45,000
    Source

Wholesalers Association (Organization)

Contributions:

  • $31,854,660 since 1990
  • $4,012,200 in 2014
    Source

Lobbying:

  • $11,100,752 since 1998
  • $1,280,000 in 2014
    Source

Wholesalers Association PAC

2014 Election Cycle

  • Total Raised: $4,171,593
  • Total Spent: $4,087,898
  • Contributions to federal candidates: $3,213,000 (44% to Democrats, 56% to Republicans)
    Source

Of note, the National Beer Wholesalers Association PAC was by far the most active donor. In the 2014 election cycle, they’re listed with 429 candidates/recipients from the House of $1,000 or more, 117 of which received $10,000, the maximum per candidate, per election year. The Association had 45 candidates/recipients from the Senate at $1,000 or more, with 27 getting $10,000.

From the House, here are top states where donations were made to candidates:

  1. CA: 56 (15 GOP, 41 Dem)
  2. TX: 38 (24 GOP, 14 Dem)
  3. NY: 26 (8 GOP, 18 Dem)
  4. FL: 24 (17 GOP, 7 Dem)
  5. PA: 19 (14 GOP, 5 Dem)

Legislation of Interest

The Wholesalers Association actually has an annual legislative conference that “provides distributors with the opportunity to hear from industry leaders and to educate members of Congress about the importance of effective state-based alcohol regulation, the role of beer distributors and the regulatory, economic and commercial value that distributors deliver to their communities.”

The Association has position statements on their legislative priorities on their website, which include:

I reached out to Kathleen Joyce, communications director for the Wholesalers Association, to ask for a comment on their political efforts. She offered these excerpts from comments made by Craig Purser, president and CEO, during the Association’s annual legislative conference.

Read that hyperlinked PDF for everything, but here are some notes:

  • Both Sen. Orin Hatch of the Senate Finance Committee and Rep. Paul Ryan of the House Ways and Means Committee “have strong relationships with beer distributors and know the value of local, independent businesses.”
  • Support for the Highway Trust Fund and passing a transportation bill “is good for America and it’s good for the beer business.”
  • A focus on preventing Congress from passing legislation “that would harm states’ ability to regulate this industry.” Or, in other words, ensuring the Association “works to ensure that the very foundation of state-based alcohol regulation and the independent beer distribution system stands firm.”
  • The regulatory system of the beer industry is already effective and the Association wants “to ensure that any changes to the federal tax code will not impact state laws which support an open and independent beer distribution system.”

Beer Money series:

Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

Beer Money: Beer Institute

beer institute logo

What’s going on here? Read this post to find out. All charts below are clickable to enlarge.

Campaign finance, from 1989 through Q2 2014: $3,374,820

Lobbying:

  • All time: $13,770,000
  • 2013-2014: $3,390,000
  • 2013-2014 spending was 24.6 percent of all time amount
    Source

2013-14 Cycle

Individual contributions:

beer institute 2013-14 donations politicians

Political Action Committee contributions (specific organizations nor provided):

beer institute 2013-14 donations PAC

All Time

Individual contributions:

Beer Institute all time donations politicians

Political Action Committee contributions:

Beer Institute all time donations PAC

Over last five years, the only party committee donation has been to:

  • Virginia Republican Party: $5,000
    Source

Election Cycle Contributions:

  • Since 1990: $367,974
  • 2014: $4,000
    Source

Lobbying:

  • Since 1998: $15,090,000
  • 2014: $2,110,000
    Source

Contributions and lobbying figures above include contributions and spending by affiliates.

Via Open Secrets:

In 2013 and 2014, the Beer Institute spent more than $2.1 million lobbying on legislation that included past incarnations of the Small BREW Act as well as issues like keg theft. In 2012, it spent just $1.3 million on lobbying (the most the group had spent up to that date, and the second time it spent more than $1 million).

Legislation of Interest

Like others, the Beer Institute is no stranger to the battling BEER vs. BREW acts. On it’s website, the Institute shres support for the BEER Act because it “creates a graduated federal excise tax structure while maintaining a level playing field.” You can read their position on the issue on their website.

It’s worth noting that the Beer Institute represents both large and small brewers, although some consumers and industry members consider the group more representative of “Big Beer.”

The Institute also includes statements on beer policy, including creation of jobs and beer’s impact on the economy.

I reached out to Megan Kirkpatrick, director of communications for the Beer Institute, to ask for a comment on their political efforts. She offered this from Jim McGreevy, president and CEO:

“Lobbying is essential to the success of any industry or interest. We remind members of Congress and executive branch officials of the positive impacts of a responsible industry that supports 2 million jobs and provides nearly $79 billion in wages and benefits.

“We always have our eye on the federal excise tax on beer because it is a regressive, invisible tax that contributes to a significant tax burden on America’s favorite beverage. Right now we are working to pass the Fair BEER Act, which would reform the tax structure for all brewers, completely eliminating the federal tax for the 90 percent who brew fewer than 7,143 barrels annually. We are also actively talking to regulators about the industry’s point of view on issues like menu labeling, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, aluminum market manipulation and provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act.”

Beer Money series:

Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

Beer Money: Brewers Association

brewers association logo

What’s going on here? Read this post to find outAll charts below are clickable to enlarge.

Campaign finance, from 1989 through Q2 2014: $900

Lobbying:

  • All time: $1,892,618
  • 2013-2014: $739,969
  • 2013-14 spending was 39.1 percent of all time amount
    Source

2013-2014 Cycle

brewers association donations 2014

All Time

brewers association donations all time

Contributions:

  • All time: $900
  • 2013-2014: $700
    Source

Lobbying:

  • Since 2005: $1,764,840
  • 2014: $394,597
    Source (note that this website had different totals from the one above)

Contributions from the Brewers Association are obviously still fairly new, which is why the organization has fewer charts than others. The Brewers Association, which first spent money on lobbying in 2008, according to this site, hired its first full-time lobbyist in 2015.

brewers association annual lobbying chart_JPG

Via Open Secrets:

In 2014, the group spent $394,597 to lobby the federal government. Its second-biggest lobbying year was 2012, when it paid out $353,899. According to CEO Bob Pease, up until this year he and individual breweries have spearheaded the Association’s lobbying effort.

For 2014, the lobbying activities percentage of non-deductible dues pertaining to tax returns was 14.9 percent. Based on the dues structure of the Brewers Association, it’s a relatively small amount for most U.S. beer makers. That lobbying amount counts for $29.05 for brewers making up to 500 barrels and $43.96 for those making 501 to 2,500 barrels.

Legislation of Interest

As you may imagine, the BEER and BREW acts draw significant attention from the association, which also lists its position statements on its website regarding:

  • Transparency in Labeling
  • Transparency in Brewer-Distributor Relationships
  • Independent Three-Tier Beer Distribution System
  • Brewery Direct to Customer Sales
  • Alcohol Content in Beer
  • Franchise Laws/Access to Market
  • Independent Wholesalers
  • Excise Taxes
  • Underage Drinking & Driving Under the Influence

A couple points of interest from these positions:

  • “Transparency in Labeling” can be attributed to the creation or purchases of “craft” breweries by large companies. You don’t need to look far for an example, considering the recent lawsuit brought against MillerCoors regarding Blue Moon.
  • The “Independent Three-Tier Beer Distribution System” position is a beast unto itself, but can mostly be seen in terms of in-state politics, where debate over self-distribution and brewery-distributor relationships can be a hot topic. It ties in directly with “Brewery Direct to Customer Sales.”

Of the three trade groups included in the Beer Money series, the Brewers Association makes it easiest for individuals to get involved, providing numerous ways to take action on their website on issues like the BEER and BREW acts.

Beer Money series:

Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

Beer Money: Heineken USA

heineken

What’s going on here? Read this post to find outAll charts below are clickable to enlarge.

Campaign finance, from 1989 through Q2 2014: $512,365

Lobbying:

  • All time: $1,740,000
  • 2013-2014: $760,000
  • 2013-14 spending represented 43.7 percent of all time amount
    Source

2013-2014 Cycle

Individual contributions:

heineken usa 2013-14 donations

Political Action Committee contributions:

heineken usa pac donations 2013-14

All Time

Individual contributions:

heineken usa all time donations

Political Action Committee contributions:

heineken usa pac donations all time

Over last 15 years, top party committees have been:

  • Florida Republican Party: $7,500
  • New York Senate Republican Campaign Committee: $3,000
  • Florida Democratic Party: $1,000
    Source

 2014 Election Cycle

  • Total Raised: $84,567
  • Total Spent: $33,843
  • Contributions to federal candidates: $27,840 (66% to Democrats, 34% to Republicans)
    Source

Of note, many top recipients of donations from Heineken USA were New York representatives or from neighboring states. Heineken USA’s headquarters in White Plains, NY. Whether that’s a worthwhile connection or not may be up for debate.

Legislation of Interest

As you would expect for a large company such as Heineken USA, attention is focused on taxes, including general stake in corporate taxes and offsets as well as LIFO, known as the “last in, first out” method of inventory. Repealing this program would increase tax liability for distribution companies.

Of more interest for everyday consumers would be Heineken USA’s support for the CIDER Act, which would adjust tax code related to cider. This is of particular use for Heineken, given increasing attention to their Strongbow brands, especially in the US. Strongbow released two new brands last year and will do so again in 2015 with a bigger push.

Per Craft Brewing Business:

Under current federal tax law, the definition of hard cider only allows for up to 7% alcohol by volume before it is taxed at the more expensive rate for wine only a certain level of carbonation before it is subject to the extremely expensive champagne tax ($3.30 or $3.40/gallon). 

If you’re curious, here are details about the carbonation issue and more about the CIDER Act.

Beer Money series:

Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

Beer Money: Anheuser-Busch and AB InBev

anheuser busch-logo

What’s going on here? Read this post to find out.

Note: Figures below include money attributed to both Anheuser-Busch and Anheuser-Busch InBev. Sources of information recognize AB as a political action committee and AB InBev as an organization. All charts are clickable to enlarge.

Anheuser-Busch

Campaign finance, from 1989 through Q2 2014: $15,619,200

Lobbying:

  • All time: $58,700,812
  • 2013-14: $6,150,000
  • 2013-14 spending represented 10.5 percent of all-time amount
    Source

2013-2014 Cycle

Individual contributions:

AB donations politicians 2013-14

Political Action Committee contributions:

AB donations PAC 2013-14

All Time

Individual contributions:

AB donations politicians all time

Political Action Committee contributions:

AB donations PAC all time

AB InBev

Campaign finance, from 1989 through Q2 2014: $24,314,793

Lobbying:

  • All time: $102,350,812
  • 2013-2014: $18,450,000
  • 2013-14 spending was 18 percent of all time amount
    Source

2013-2014 Cycle

Individual contributions:

AB InBev politician donations 2013-14

Political Action Committee contributions:

AB InBev PAC donations 2013-14

All Time

Individual contributions:

AB InBev politician donations all time

Political Action Committee contributions:

AB InBev PAC donations all time

Anheuser-Busch

Over last 24 years, top-five party committees have been:

  • Florida Republican Party: $1,100,317
  • Missouri Republican Party: $955,000
  • California Democratic Party: $672,733
  • Missouri Democratic Party: $656,778
  • California Republican Party: $617,442
    Source

Anheuser-Busch

2014 Election Cycle

  • Total Raised: $840,526
  • Total Spent: $915,913
  • Contributions to federal candidates: $575,898 (43% to Democrats, 57% to Republicans)
    Source

Anheuser-Busch InBev

2014 Election Cycle

Contributions: $1,243,919

Lobbying:

  • $4,610,000 in 2014
  • $50,020,406 since 1998
    Source

Legislation of Interest

Lots of attention where you’d expect:

Of all organizations, Anheuser-Busch had greatest interest in matters related to distribution, given their vast network throughout the country. Just a few areas of note included:

  • Safe and Efficient Transportation Act and issues related to truck weights
  • Highway Trust Fund Reauthorization
  • Montana/North Dakota railroad issues

Others areas included monitoring of issues related to the malt industry and beverage packaging legislations such as proposals regarding alcohol excise taxes, included but not limited to Health Care Reform.

Beer Money series:

Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

Beer Money: MillerCoors

MillerCoors_Logo

What’s going on here? Read this post to find out.

Note: In researching spending by MillerCoors, multiple references to “MillerCoors LLC” and “MillerCoors” were found, so both are referenced in this information. All charts are clickable to enlarge.

MillerCoors LLC

Campaign finance, from 1989 through Q2 2014: $971,532

Lobbying:

  • All time: $13,702,000
  • 2013-2014: $4,020,000
  • 2013-14 spending represented 29.3 percent of all-time amount
    Source

2013-2014 Cycle

Individual contributions:

millercoors donations 2013-2014

Political Action Committee contributions:

millercoors pac donations 2013-2014

All Time

Individual contributions:

millercoors donations all time

Political Action Committee contributions:

millercoors pac donations all time

MillerCoors

Campaign finance, from 1989 through 2012: $1,751,299
Source

2007 to 2012

Individual contributions:

MillerCoors donations politicians 2007-12

Political Action Committee contributions:

MillerCoors donations PAC 2007-12

MillerCoors

Over last 20 years, top-five donation totals to party committees have been:

  • California Republican Party: $108,715
  • Florida Republican Party: $62,000
  • House Republican Caucus of South Carolina: $32,500
  • California Democratic Party: $29,000
  • New York Senate Republican Campaign Committee: $26,750
    Source

(There are dozens of MillerCoors LLCs listed)

MillerCoors LLC

2014 Election Cycle

  • Total Raised: $254,668
  • Total Spent: $265,763
  • Contributions to federal candidates: $190,500 (25% to Democrats, 75% to Republicans)
    Source

Legislation of Interest

Dodd-Frank Derivatives Title VII

The goal is to increase transparency and reduce risk in markets while mandating comprehensive reporting of certain financial transactions. Most notably, MillerCoors expressed interest in the implications of the Dodd-Frank Derivatives Title in relation to their contracts with other businesses. For example, a concern was expressed about releasing information on aluminum contracts, which are obviously pivotal to the company’s packaging needs.

Excerpt from U.S. House Committee on Financial Services

James Cawley, CEO, Javelin Capital Markets:

If you are entering into a contract, and it is probably a big contract–does that have an impact on the market if you are forced to disclose the contract that you are entering into?

Craig Reiners, director of risk management, MillerCoors LLC:

I think it is really all about the details and the careful implementation of any new rules. We would, as a beer guy and someone who actually uses these tools that we are talking about, the level of confidentiality is certainly critical.

Issues related to spent grains at the FDA

From Brewbound:

As Brewbound reported in March, the FDA, in an effort to clarify regulations included in the Food Safety Modernization Act, had sought to impose new rules on brewers that sell their spent grains to farmers. Specifically, the proposed rule would have required brewers to dry and pre-package their spent grains before selling them, creating an added expense that would have made the centuries-old practice ultimately unsustainable for many.

General interest in the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC’s oversight of the London Metal Exchange

There has been some ongoing friction surrounding the Metal Exchange in recent years, and MillerCoors accused the market of “unfair aluminum market practices and lack of transatlantic oversight cost US industry an extra $3 billion in 2012.” Along with Russia, the company has also criticized the Exchange’s warehousing policy, which has “led to inflated physical prices and distorted supplies of metal, upending global futures and physical trading.”

Beer Money series:

Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

Beer Money: How Industry Dollars Go to Work

United_States_Capitol_beer

It’s the root of all evil. It’s the uplifting ends of the American Dream. It’s the way to get women.

No matter its versatile purpose, money makes things happen. Especially when it comes to politics. Lately, that seems particularly true with politics and beer.

It took three years for Florida to pass a growler law. It took millions to convince Stone to come to Virginia. It’s turned into a digital battle for attention in North Carolina.

Money can be a lot of things, but there’s no denying one of its unifying forces: power.

Continue reading

The Personalization of Beer

personalized beer six pack

The pursuit of the American Dream is so ingrained in our cultural fabric that idea of making something better bleeds red, white and blue into many aspects of our lives.

It’s our inalienable right to be bigger, faster, stronger, hoppier, tastier – a byproduct of the entrepreneurial spirit so tethered to ideals of American Capitalism.

If a business can’t meet our needs, that isn’t a disappointment, it’s an opportunity! A chance to lift our ever-proverbial bootstraps and not just fill our wants, but presumably those of other like-minded folks all over.

We are traveling along in a rather unprecedented period of business, where ideas can be fueled with a few strokes of a keyboard every day. More than ever, we find new ways to drive personalized solutions. It’s not so much about thinking in terms of “us” as it is about “me.”

It’s in our advertising, education, politics, TV and digital space.

It’s the personalization of consumption, which is now coming for our beer. Whether that’s good or bad is (fittingly) up for us to decide. But whatever your stance, it was probably inevitable.

Continue reading