Saturday, May 16, 2009

After the Cricket Cookout, Part 2

Here's the video from the Cricket Cookout held May 1st in the parking lot of Cricket Hill Brewery.

If you recall this video, intended as the launch of the web-based Culinary Pursuit Show, is a production from Roj Prasad of Web Epoch Interactive (that's Roj doing the cooking). Roj's company handle's Cricket Hill's Web site.

But all that is boilerplate. What should be on your plate is great food paired with great beer, which is the message Roj wants to drive home.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Peering through the bent-back tulips

Scouting around today, and looking over the flowerbed to our westward neighbors, we learn Philly Beer Week is going, metaphorically speaking, from bock to saison.

That is to say, the 2010 incarnation of PBW is moving from March to June. The keeper of Philadelphia beer news, Don Russell, offers an explanation for the calendar switch on the blog he keeps a layer below his JoeSixpack site.

Speaking of Philly, it came in third in Beer City USA poll results.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What New Jersey homebrewers make,Trenton says don't take off site

Here’s an interesting item: Washington State just revamped its law regarding homebrewing to allow up to 20 gallons of home-brewed beer to be taken out of the home. (Washington’s bill was signed into law on May 6th).

It’s interesting, because here in New Jersey, as written, our regulations restrict consumption of homebrew to the premises where it was made. That’s spelled out on the application for a homebrewing permit the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control says you must have to make beer in your back yard. Lots of homebrewers breaking that rule, we've seen (and shared in their hard work).

And here’s something odd about this permit application: It asks you where you were born, not when you were born (it does, however, ask how old you are, but notice it doesn’t require you to prove your age, as in providing supporting documentation). What does your birthplace have to do with anything? Nothing.

We’ve said it before, this permit is pointless, and in some ways, it’s just an attempt at being an impediment to homebrewing, not to mention a way of taxing home-made beer, although the statute does exempt homebrewers from the state alcoholic beverage tax for beer. Most of the homebrewers we’ve spoken to don’t bother with this permit. Who can blame them? At the end of the day, when you’ve brewed 5 gallons, or even 15 gallons, you’ve put in about six hours of work and have to wait a month or so to drink it. Oh yeah, that needs the state to put its foot on things to keep it from getting out of hand.

Trenton has no clue. It’s almost like the state had a knee-jerk moment when it allowed homebrewing (which the federal government gave the green light 31 years ago): Oh gosh, we must require a permit. The original fee, back in 1995, was 3 bucks. Now it’s 15. Wonder if Trenton tops $1,000 annually in collection of permit fees?

The American Homebrewers Association says it can’t say for certain, but no other state comes to mind, not even Washington, as far as requiring homebrewers to have a permit to enjoy their hobby.

Just New Jersey. Go figure.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Craft beer week

American Craft Beer Week began on Monday ... the appreciation of better beer.

If you recall, we prevailed – unsuccessfully, unfortunately – upon Gov. Corzine's office for a proclamation for a New Jersey Craft Beer Week to coincide with the seven-day observance authorized by Congress.

Make no mistake, it was a longshot for one voice. So it comes as no surprise that you can take a spin over to the governor's Web site and not see a link to a press release (FYI: Former Gov. Whitman declared July beer month in New Jersey back in 2000, so Corzine wouldn't exactly have been breaking ground here, just effortlessly being a friend to a state industry, if he had signed a proclamation). The Garden State Craft Brewers Guild should have stepped up with a lobby campaign (to be fair, we're guessing the guild didn't try, and we won't mind being corrected if it did) to get a state observance.

You may think we're making something out of nothing, but Craft Beer Week represents a chance for solidarity and marketing. Neither sound all that compelling, but they are important and represent, we argue, the underpinnings of keeping a message about Jersey-brewed beer before the public.

And that, too, is important, especially since the guild, by and large, holds just a couple (sometimes) of festivals a year under its banner. That's hardly much reinforcement in the public's mind that New Jersey has some great beer made within its borders.

Meanwhile, promoters in Atlantic City hold the state's biggest (but hardly the best) beer festival, and the High Street Grill in Mount Holly is on course for a second 2009 festival, set for this month. Neither are Jersey-beer centric (although Jersey beers have been on those fests' lineups). Quite the contrary, since those fests pull in beers (via distributors) from across the country and around the world, they're sort of eating the guild's lunch, stealing its thunder (pick a metaphor).

That may sound like protectionist talk, but think about it. Someone's brand is getting built up with some exposure. Shouldn't it be the home team's?

Our suggestion: Print advertising rates are probably very negotiable right now (revenues are that soft) at the bigger newspapers. So the guild should begin a regular ad campaign promoting Jersey-brewed beer, à la the campaign used by the state Agriculture Department (the well-known Jersey Fresh produce slogan) ... Think Jersey, drink Jersey, perhaps?