Archive for February 4th, 2013

The Politics Of Beer

by lizard

Beer politics in Montana is fascinating for a number of reasons. One recent example of beer politics is republican Jeff Welborn’s (R-Dillon) failed attempt to move forward his anti-business regulation bill:

Draught Works Brewery owners Paul Marshall and Jeff Grant were busy reorganizing their brewing tanks last week to make room for newer, bigger tanks that will be delivered soon.

The new tanks will allow Draught Works, which opened in 2011, to eventually double its capacity, said co-owner Paul Marshall.

The young brewery is thriving in its home on Toole Avenue. But the growth planning at Draught Works continued with Marshall and Grant keeping a weary eye on what’s happening at the 2013 Montana legislative session.

Particularly of interest was a Montana Tavern Association-endorsed bill draft requested by Rep. Jeff Welborn, R-Dillon, which proposed limiting beer sold on premises of small breweries to 10 percent of annual production. The other 90 percent would have to be sold through distributors.

Draught Works sells 100 percent of its beer in its taproom.

“It would kill us,” Marshall said of the “90/10” idea.

The bill has been dropped, but it’s a frightening prospect for Marshall, who noted that the complicated set of state laws under which microbreweries currently operate will heavily dictate how his business moves forward.

Like Republicans at the national level, there doesn’t seem to be any principles involved when it comes to servicing special interest groups (in this case, the Montana Tavern Association) other than servicing that special interest group, even if it means crafting legislation that suppresses one form of business—microbreweries—in order to directly benefit their competitors.

I hope Dave Budge at The Montana Regulation Project is taking note of the desire of the MTA to put even more barriers up in order to stop business growth in Montana.

Another example of the hoops needed to expand a microbrewery is developing tonight, in the chambers of Missoula’s City Council, where Tim O’Leary is appealing council for a conditional use permit. The Missoula Independent reported a few weeks ago about what O’Leary has already had to do to even get to this point:

Last week, O’Leary announced via Facebook that Kettlehouse will soon split into three separate companies. Work is already underway to relocate the Myrtle Street brewhouse to an adjacent building, which will become the new headquarters for Kettlehouse Brewing. The newly established Myrtle Street Taphouse LLC—owned by O’Leary’s mother, Helen O’Leary—will take over the existing taproom location and is currently acquiring a beer and wine license to keep the taps flowing. Kettlehouse’s Northside location will be renamed the Northside Brewing Company and operate as-is under sole ownership of O’Leary’s wife, Suzy Rizza.

“The major difference is the brewery will be owned by me and the beer bar will be owned by Mom,” O’Leary wrote Jan. 18. “We don’t expect to change our serving hours or quantities drastically. In fact we may not even serve wine. That is an option that the proposed license allows but does not require. Our goal is to maintain the atmosphere at 602 Myrtle that our longtime customers have come to love.”

And since Myrtle Street Taphouse is a separately owned and operated company, Kettlehouse will be able to produce enough beer to satisfy increasing demand among wholesalers without upsetting local desire for neighborhood taprooms. O’Leary told the Indy last week that numerous other Montana breweries have already applied similar business models to comply with the state’s varied and restrictive microbrew laws.

Though it sounds like Tim’s plan will be granted forward momentum by the council, there will be an additional condition to the conditional use permit for the Kettlehouse: a 10pm curfew.

An amendment from Mike O’Herron, and supported by Caitlin Copple and Jason Wiener, failed tonight, which means the anti-business victory tonight goes to Alex Taft, Ed Childers, and Bob Jaffe, who opposed late hours (a BIG THANKS to @KeilaSzpaller for live tweeting City Council).

What makes this decision appear very selective and very unfair is the proximity of a fabulous dive called Flippers, where you can drink beer and cheap wine (generous pours) until 2am, and gamble till the sun comes up.

Did I mention Flippers is a block from the Kettlehouse?

In all fairness, if I lived in that neighborhood, I probably wouldn’t be really excited about the possibility of having more drunk people around until 2am either. NIMBYism is a powerful force, and often transcends ideology.

That said, I’m glad the Kettlehouse will no longer by constrained by a 10,000 barrel production cap, because the constraint is solely there to insulate the established alcohol cartel from competition.

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My Last Super Bowl

by lizard

Imagine sinking your comfortable ass in her plush leather seat, then slowly curling your fingers around her steering wheel. Imagine striding across a high school dance floor, seeking her, then taking possession, her pliant body submitting to your will—if only for a few seconds, and despite the consequence of a black eye for violating another male’s property.

Just a formulaic Super Bowl ad, right? Buy an Audi, Dad, and your son will suddenly buck the social hierarchy that probably bullied you into the redirected mission of getting rich enough to equalize the social imbalance that cock-blocked you back in the day.

The fantasy Audi uses to sell its cars is an extension of the conquest narrative, a very old tale, which goes like this: to the victors go the spoils.

This year, the Baltimore Ravens are the victors, so if anyone on the winning team feels like including some celebratory fucking in their post-game revelry, there is plenty of sex trafficking that goes on during the Super Bowl:

In the past year, authorities in Louisiana have been working to raise awareness about the rampant sex trafficking that has historically accompanied the Super Bowl. While there is a widespread perception that human trafficking is a problem only in foreign countries, data from the U.S. Department of Justice show the average American prostitute begins working between the ages of 12 and 14.

Established in 2006, the Louisiana Human Trafficking Task Force, comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, plus faith-based and nongovernmental organizations, has been meeting regularly to try to increase trafficking arrests and rescue the victims.

As a tourist destination, New Orleans attracts sex workers year-round, said Bryan Cox, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in New Orleans. But many of those young women are not here by choice. So, in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, both outreach and undercover efforts have ramped up.

Underneath the military-worship and the damage-control over concussions, underneath the culturally vapid advertising and the ritual indulgences of eating and drinking too much, what is left of American Football to celebrate?

When half the lights went dark at the start of the 3rd quarter tonight, the ghost of Katrina emerged through snarky tweets mocking how America was getting upset about being denied its gladiator entertainment in the same space where people languished in misery for days after hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

Thirty minutes later, the violence on the field was able to resume, and the Ravens survived. For those who wanted a close game, you got it.

For me, I’m done watching American football.




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