Wednesday, October 28, 2009

PorterPalooza #7 - O'So Nighttrain


Based on the lines at pretty much every recent beer festival I've been to, O'So is a strong, up-and-coming brewery. In business for the past two years out of the side/back of their brewing-supply store in Plover, WI, early batches tended to the spotty. But, a few years in now, most of the kinks worked out, Brewmaster Marc Buttera is starting to hit his stride.

O'So brews a number of styles: by my count off of their website is 15 just in the "current" styles, and an additional 4 that have been retired - almost 20 styles in less than 2 years of operation. While I wasn't personally a fan of the Picnic Ants Saison, the Jack O'Lantern smoked rye pumpkin belgian beer thing made me take notice, as did the Lupulin Maximus, Dominator, and Oktoberfest. I reviewed the Hopdinger as part of the IPA kick I was on this past summer and found myself really liking it despite some questionable reviews from RateBeer and BeerAdvocate.

Based on the notes on the outside of this bottle, I expect the Night Train to be a robust, as opposed to brown, porter:
This complex Porter is black as the coal that fueled locomotives for generations. Made with judicious amounts of crystal and chocolate malts for a rich, smooth, creamy experience. Go ahead and jump on the night train. Enjoy.

O'So Night Train Porter
BA (). RB (84).
Appearance: As the label promises, it is jet-black; a thick, tan head makes think there might a judicious use of hops as well
Aroma: the aroma jumps out of the bottle and up to the nose as soon as liquid hits the glass; chocolate and caramel with a hint of hops and roastiness lend it a dark espresso quality
Flavor: If this were on nitrogen, it would taste like chocolate milk; a lot of chocolate, with a hint of roastiness; the caramel comes through on the back but there isn't a big hoppiness that I wouldn't have been surprised to find
Body: Full to medium bodied with a bit of a lingering flavor of dark-roasted espresso
Drinkability: the body militates against sessionability, but I'd put this up with the Edmund Fitzgerald in terms of heavier-bodied porters that I would drink as much of as would fit in my belly.
Summary: Very nice for a cold winter-evening porter; my only real complaint is one that I have generally with "Porters" of this body - what's the difference between this and a stout? With this one in particular, without the strong roastiness typically associated with porters of this heft, I'm not sure I could make a logical argument for classifying this as a porter instead of a stout. Indeed, it's heavier and bigger than many stouts. So, nomenclature aside, it's really enjoyable.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Big(ish) Beer In The Governor's House?

I'm all for recklessly publishing unconfirmed reports, so I'll join Madison television's WKOW blog "Inside Scoop" in perpetuating the rumor that Dick Leinenkugel might get into the Governor's race.
Sources tell Inside Scoop Leinenkugel has increasingly been approached to consider the upcoming governor’s race. They say Leinenkugel’s intial, polite deflection of the flattering prospect has transformed into subtle consideration of the idea.
From my sources in the beer industry (probably not nearly as impressive a list as "Inside Scoop"s "sources") support for Leinenkugel as Commerce Secretary was relatively tepid. About the most support anyone could muster was "well, at least he likes beer." And, for folks in the beer industry, I guess that's all you really need.

At this point, about the best the industry would expect is not to have legislation that would move the industry backwards. Forwards may not happen. But at least it wouldn't go backwards, like, if say, Kathleen Falk were to somehow end up in the Governor's seat.

I don't know enough about Leinenkugel's political leanings to make an informed decision about his fitness for the highest office in the state. It seems that not a whole lot of others do either. He has a bit of an "outsider" reputation here, which could be a good thing.

It seems that Republicans are content to sit on the sidelines and snipe instead of wasting resources. Which, to my unpolitical mind, seems like a good idea; staying out of the Governor's race would give them more resources to dedicate to Assembly and Senate seat elections - which they'll need before the Governor's seat would do them any good. In the meantime, Republicans can let the Democrats waste their time with a relatively unexciting choice for 4 years, not let anything get through, blame the Dems for not getting anything done, then have good numbers for a solid Gubernatorial bid in 2014 when they'll have a better idea of Paul Ryan's political ambitions.

Unless Tom Barrett gets in the race.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Useful Conversion Chart For You

Sorry but this is going to be a busy week for me and I'm not sure how much I'll get to post. But for something else I am working on, I came up with this super-handy conversion chart. Hope you find it as useful as I have.

12 oz bottle
1 gallon
1 case
1/6 bbl
1/2 bbl
1 bbl
12 oz bottle
1 gallon
1 case
1/6 bbl
1/2 bbl
1 bbl

Thursday, October 15, 2009

AB 287 Hearing Recap

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the hearing on Tuesday. But I asked Chris Staples of Furthermore Beer for his thoughts and he was more than happy to provide some notes. He makes some excellent points and I can only say that I'm disappointed by the extremes and ignorance displayed by both sides of the debate.

While these extremes make for incendiary sound-bites, they add nothing to constructive negotiation and only foster ill-will from the other side and in the public. I expect it from the lobbying groups (health care and the tavern league), I am sorely disappointed to see it in our elected officials.

With that said, Chris Staples:

Chris Staples here. I own a small brewing company in Spring Green, Wisconsin called Furthermore Beer. I used to work for Information for Public Affairs in Sacramento, California where I dealt with legislation from all fifty states and the Federal government on a daily basis. My father was killed in a car accident that was not related to alcohol. My father-in-law (son of the former Chair of the UW-Madison Political Science Department and now deceased) was responsible for killing someone in a drunk-driving accident for which he spent significant time in prison. My wife and her siblings live with the fallout of that destruction every day. I was also at the hearing on Assembly Bill 287 ("The Beer Tax") from 10 am until 2:15 pm. I am still working on sorting through everything I heard and saw, and am will try to put a finer point on my observations, concerns and criticisms in the coming days. But here are a few of my initial reactions:

* I believe the author of the bill is well-intentioned, despite being hard to like: being willfully ignorant or grossly uninformed as regards the three-tier nature of the brewing industry and being very dismissive and smug about how Bill 287 would affect not only our State's brewers, but the economy as a whole is no way to achieve reasonable debate, partnership and cooperation in addressing social ills.

* From the outside looking in, the two most persuasive sound-byte arguments for increasing the tax is that 1) it's only 2.5 cents per bottle of beer, and that 2) the beer tax hasn't been raised for 40 years. As regards the former argument, the Bill's author, Rep. Berceau and her allies seem content to hold on to this notion that it's only going to cost the drinker 2.5 cents, and that consumers shouldn't complain because it affects people based on how much the drink (ergo we tax "problem drinkers" disproportionately), and that industry will simply be able to pass the tax on with no ill effects (or grossly exaggerated negative impact at worst). What was incredibly insulting to me was the lack of willingness or worse, lack of understanding, that the supporters of AB287 showed by adhering to these notions. A tax at the production level gets inflated at the distribution level by 30% and gets again inflated at the point-of-sale by about 30% (depending on the particular retailer or bar.) The suggestion seemed to be that we, as brewers, could somehow bypass the MANDATED three-tier system to make sure this tax doesn't get inflated. Supporters also fail to acknowledge that as craft brewers, we know that our sales will decrease as the price of our product goes up. And yet, our fixed-costs don't change. Therefore, we have to raise the price further. It's unavoidable if we wish to stay in business. So the consumer, whether a light, moderate or heavy drinker, will be paying much more than 2.5 cents per bottle. On top of which, it is my political instinct that a) the author of the bill WANTS THE TAX TO BE INFLATED, despite insisting it is only a 2.5 cent tax increase per bottle and that b) the author knows it would be political suicide to do the thing that would actually achieve the result she seeks, which is to tax all alcohol (not just beer, and not just WIsconsin producers) at the at the point of purchase/consumption and not make this an issue about whether breweries are paying their fair share. Which leads me to the latter argument. Yes, it is true that the beer tax has not been increased for forty years. A fair enough point. But what no one has said is that that fact is a failure of past Legislatures, not of contemporary brewers! If today's legislature suggested raising the beer tax $1 per barrel, it may not provide Rep. Burceau for all the money she seeks for treatment and law-enforcement programming but it would be hard for industry to argue against. Instead, today's Legislature will have the opportunity to enact a tax on the brewing industry that seeks, in one fell swoop, to compensate for a FAILURE OF THE LEGISLATURE FOR THE LAST FORTY YEARS by crippling my business at a time when our industry is already struggling. Rep. Ott asked "where is the money going to come from?" Well, I know one thing for certain: it can't come from me if I'm out of business as a result of a beyond-the-pale tax increase the extent of which I could not have foreseen when I wrote my business plan in 2004. In other words, I am happy to help contribute my fair share. By I can't contribute enough to compensate for the lack of an appropriate and sane tax predating my business by 36 years. And to those who spoke about how unfair it is to have to pay for services we don't use through taxation, I say "get a grip": we all do it all the time. People without kids pay property taxes which benefit the schools. People whose homes aren't on fire or aren't the victims of a crime pay for fire and police services. People who don't drive much pay for roads. People of means pay for social programs that help people without means eat, clothe themselves and their children, provide shelter for a variety of reasons, cover health care costs, etc. Such is the nature of our democracy. And before scapegoating the brewing industry as being irresponsible and not paying its fair share relative to other states, please acknowledge the levels of taxation on our industry relative to other industries and our state compared to other states. As an industry, we pay an astonishing amount in the form of taxes and would appreciate it today's Legislature would consider that fact as opposed to being insultingly dismissive of our concerns.

* Those in attendance heard devastating testimony from Wendy Calvillo, whose twelve year-old son and husband were killed in a head-on collision near Fort Atkinson in February of this year. I don't think anyone in that room will ever forget what we heard. My deepest sympathies go out to Mrs. Calvillo and her surviving children. As the father of two and as a person who's own father was killed in a non-alcohol-related automobile accident, all I can think to say about the injustice she and her family have suffered is horrible, senseless, violent and criminal. And yet, I was left with a competing feeling which I'm reluctant to even voice given the magnitude Mrs. Calvillo's loss: she is seeking emotional solace in the form of a punitive measure on a responsible and heavily-burdened industry which, given the legislative analysis available for Bill 287, has dubious capacity to effect the change it seeks given the vague allocation guidelines and the lack of protection for the funds raised. And I'm very sad to say that I don't imagine that raising the beer tax is going to decrease Mrs. Cavillo's pain. I think that the logical extension of her reasoning and experience is that there is absolutely no acceptable circumstance or condition by which someone loses their loved one in a drunk-driving "accident". And while no reasonable person would disagree with this assessment, the only way to ATTEMPT to achieve this is with total prohibition of alcohol. And we know that even then, people with the desire and/or need will find/make it/consume it anyway. There is a certain risk to individuals and society to permitting any number of products and behaviors: guns, jet-skiing, fast food, alcohol, cell phones, automobiles, unpasteurized cheese. And yet, as individuals and a society, we routinely accept these risks and call it the price of choice and liberty. With all due respect to the Calvillo family and with a heart that cries out in sympathetic agony for their loss, I don't accept that it is suitable to beat-up on the beer industry given the great unlikelihood of prohibition.

* "Smartest Dude in the Room" award goes to Michael M. Miller M.D., President of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the Medical Director of NewStart Treatment Program based at Meriter Hospital in Madison. He did a great job of cutting through the b.s., identifying the problem, suggesting that the status quo isn't working, offering that Assembly Bill 287 is better than nothing, but also noting that beer, wine and liquor aren't the problem: that alcohol is the problem, and that a tax on alcohol makes more sense than a tax on beer. If anyone in that room was going to win fence-sitters over to the affirmative side of the debate, it was Dr. Miller. My only qualm was his characterization that we grow our businesses by growing our audience, and that the way we all do that is by making our product attractive to children. I think this carryover argument from the cigarette debate doesn't apply to our industry, particularly the craft-end of the industry where neither price nor flavor profiles make the product conducive to consumption by children. Nor do smaller producers possess the resources to reach-out to a younger audience via advertising and marketing. That disagreement aside, I think everyone involved in this debate could learn from Dr. Miller, and I believe he had the best grip on the root issue and would be a great partner both for the industry and for the pro-tax folks. I would personally be willing to help Dr. Miller in any way within my means.

* "Rabid Dog" awards go to the woman from Colorado who has been involved with providing some manner of treatment services for six years and who told the Committee she was there for "informational purposes" (if you wish to speak before the committee, you have to declare whether you are there to speak for the issue, against the issue or are there for informational purposes) and proceeded to go on a five-minute ill-informed industry-bashing tirade. Whatever. Equally asinine was the Tavern League of Wisconsin who proceeded to go on a five-minute embarrassingly ill-supported legislation-bashing tirade that amounted to: "our members can't take any more taxes!" Well that may be true, but why? In both cases, raising one's voice does not add clarity to the debate.

* "Biggest Disappointment" award goes to my own Representative, Steve Hilgenberg, District 51. He gave the least passionate, least detailed and least engaging address to the Committee. "You know, it's time. And people want it." Ug.

* Also notable were three of the Committee members: Reps Bies, Ott and the gentlemen sitting second from the right (as facing the Committee) seated nest to Rep. Berceau. Rep. Bies quite surprised me, perhaps more because of my own assumptions and prejudices: I am a life-long Democrat with a deep anti-authoritarian streak. Rep Bies is a retired law enforcement officer and a Republican. And to be truthful, he was the only member of the Committee who made any damn sense at all. He spoke well. He asked pointed questions. And he seemed to actually follow the debate with an eye toward advancing to a conclusion. I really appreciated his presence on the Committee and his repeated questioning of speakers regarding the efficacy of treatment and the protection/earmarking of the proposed additional funds. Rep. Ott, on the other hand, seemed quite content to admonish and lecture both speakers and audience. I found him to be patronizing and annoying while offering little of merit to consideration of the question. And the third Representative (whose name placard I could not read. Apologies.) seemed constitutionally incapable of understanding the three-tier system, and why, if a tax was applied at the production level, it would increase as it went up the supply chain such that the politically defensible 2.5 cents per bottle became much more at the cash register or bar rail. I literally bounced my head off the table when for the fourth time he became exasperated and asked for clarification on this issue. For goodness sake: do your homework!

Anyone who has read this far probably stands in opposition to this Bill. But on the off chance you are a supporter of AB287 and are still reading, please consider that this proposal has dubious merit: the funds will be poorly protected and questionably allocated, and while the status quo may not be acceptable, there is more than one way to go about change. This Bill truly will hurt an important industry which is already contributes disproportionately and operates on razor-thin margins. In any case, these are my impressions, based on my time at the hearing. Take them as you will, and please know they are offered in good faith and as an attempt to enliven debate surrounding this important issue, not stiffle it. Feel free to pass this along.


Chris Staples

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Madison Beer Review Presents Beer Talk Today

On Part one of this week's podcast we get into the fall spirit with a tasting of Avery's The Kaizer Imperial Octoberfest. How is an Imperial Octoberfest different from a Doppelbock? Can a 9.3 % abv lager taste good? Listen in to find out.

Here's the mp3


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2009 Assembly Bill 287 - The Beer Tax - In-Depth Analysis

Hearing on 2009 AB 287 (pdf) is at 10am this morning. Unfortunately, I can't make it. But, Here's a blow-by-blow on this relatively short (6 page) bill.

June 2, 2009 − Introduced by Representatives BERCEAU, ROYS and HILGENBERG, cosponsored by Senator RISSER. Referred to Committee on Public Safety.

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill increases the tax rate for the tax on fermented malt beverages from $2 per barrel to $10 per barrel. In addition, an amount of the taxes collected on fermented malt beverages equal to $2 per barrel will be used by the Office of Justice Assistance in the Department of Administration to provide grants to counties and municipalities to reduce crimes related to alcohol use by employing additional law enforcement officers and obtaining equipment and training, and an amount of the taxes equal to $4 per barrel will be used for community aids related to alcohol and drug abuse treatment services. Finally, an amount of the taxes equal to $2 per barrel will be used for grants for substance abuse treatment and prevention programs.

So, this is a quick summary of the bill. Basic gist: tax up from $2/bbl to $10/bbl. $2/bbl of the tax will be used to provide grants to local law enforcement "to reduce crimes related to alcohol", $4/bbl will be used for "community aids", another $2/bbl will be used for grants to substance abuse.

Section 1. [Grants will be provided out of the beer tax fund] to counties or municipalities to employ additional law enforcement officers, to obtain equipment and training, and, subject to [conditions below], for overtime work if the officers, equipment, training, and overtime assist in reducing crimes related to alcohol use. ... A county or municipality applying to the office for a grant under this subsection shall include a proposed plan of expenditure of the grant moneys. The grant moneys may be used only as described [above]. ... The use of all moneys distributed under this section shall comply with evidence−based practices established by the department. ... The office may not award an annual grant in excess of $250,000 to any county or municipality. ... The grant that a county or municipality receives under this subsection may not supplant existing local resources. ... For each year that a county or municipality receives a grant, the county or municipality shall provide matching funds of at least 10 percent of the amount of the grant."

So, counties and/or municipalities just need to front 10% of the grant and they can use the money to pay for "officers, equipment, training, and overtime" so long as those items or activities are used to "reduce crimes related to alcohol use." So, presumably up to $250K per year can be used to buy new cops to write speeding tickets, since traffic work might "reduce crimes related to alcohol use." Notice that the "officer, equipment, training, and overtime" don't actually have to reduce crime related to use - there is no responsibility or accountability for the funds - just that to get the funds the department must show that alcohol-related crime could be reduced with "evidence-based practices" (of course, it's up to the department what constitutes proper "evidence" that the practice will reduce alcohol-related crime).

So far, a beer tax is underwriting the ill-effects of not just beer, but wine, low-end vodka, bourbon, brandy, long-island iced teas, rum, gin, wine coolers, jello shots, fish bowls, and jagermeister.

The department shall distribute grants from the [beer tax] to counties, municipalities, school districts, nonprofit organizations, ... and cooperative educational service agencies to provide alcohol and drug abuse treatment and prevention programs.

And weed, coke, meth, lsd, barbituates, tranquilizers, aerosol, heroin, ....

An occupational tax is imposed upon the removal for consumption or sale or selling of fermented malt beverages at the rate of $2 $10 per barrel of 31 gallons and at a proportionate rate for any other quantity or fractional parts thereof. Not more than one occupational tax shall be required to be paid on any one container of fermented malt beverages.

This is the part that raises the non-credited part of the excise tax to $10/bbl. It's not entirely clear that the "more than one occupational tax" applies to out-of-state barrels here. In theory, barrels going out of state will pay "more than one" if they have to pay both a Wisconsin and a foreign occupational tax. This is not entirely clear and I would want to see this made explicit. The only change to the existing code is to increase from $2 to $10 though - so presumably it will still be interpreted as it was.

In this section “eligible producer” means any producer of fermented malt beverages, whether or not located in this state, producing less than 300,000 barrels of fermented malt beverages in the calendar year for which credit under par. (a) is claimed. In determining the number of barrels, all brands or labels of a producer shall be combined and all barrels exported out of this state shall be included. All facilities for the production of fermented malt beverages owned or controlled by the same person shall be deemed a single producer.

It's important to note what this section does NOT do: namely, destroy the producer credit. It does not amend or destroy 129.02(2)(a). Breweries under 300K bbls will still get a 50% credit on the first 50K bbls. So, unless you are producing more than 50K bbls your tax will go up from $1/bbl to $5/bbl. If you make between 50K and 300K barrels you will still get a 50% credit on the first 50K bbls, but you will pay $10/bbl on the remainder. If you make over 300K bbls you are not eligible for the credit on any of your barrels. This is not a substantive change except in the $2 -> $10 number.

What it DOES change is that it now includes exported barrels in the counted barrels. Interestingly, this could end up affecting everyone's favorite "small" big brewery, Minhas, the most. Prior to this change, barrels that left the state were not counted in "how big" you were vis-a-vis the tax credit. If you, say, produced 40K bbls that stayed in-state, but produced 500K bbls that went out of state, you were eligible for the tax credit, because only in-state barrels were counted. Now, both in-state and out-state barrelage are counted to determine eligibility for the credit. Thus, this hypothetical brewery would have been eligible for the credit under the prior law (only paid $1/bbl on the first 50K bbls) but will not be eligible for the tax credit under this law (all 40K bbl will be subject to the full $10/bbl).

THIS section does not apply the tax to those out-of-state barrels. It ONLY establishes that out-of-state barrels count towards your credit eligibility.

The remainder of the bill just sets out the $2/$4/$2 distribution as set forth above. That's all that 2009 AB 287 does, folks.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Penny For Your Thoughts - Sprecher Brewing Co

Finally, from Jeff Hamilton, Vice-President and General Manager of Sprecher Brewing Company


The negative impacts to our state if the proposed bill were to pass are multi-faceted and reach many parts of our economy. The state’s brewing industry is one of the few business sectors that have remained relatively healthy in spite of our current economic downturn. The business of beer sustains Wisconsin families by providing jobs in not only breweries, but also malting plants, factories making packaging materials (glass, aluminum, paper products), wheat, barley, corn, and hop growers, distribution companies, restaurants and taverns, and grocery, convenience, and liquor stores. These employees and companies pay taxes and insurance premiums that provide healthcare for thousands of people.

Beer is also a major export product for our state. Breweries in Wisconsin produce products that are shipped to other states and abroad. All states collect tax on beer sold in their state. Under this proposal, Wisconsin would also collect this increased tax on all beer leaving the state, which would make it impossible for beers made in Wisconsin to compete with beers made in other states.

The bottom line is that this bill costs Wisconsin jobs. The loss of taxes as a result of these job losses will likely be more than the additional tax collected from the increased beer tax. This will also further burden the healthcare system with additional uninsured.

Wisconsin, and particularly Dane County taxpayers, should be outraged that the majority of the efforts to increase the beer tax are being sponsored by employees of government agencies with taxpayer money. UW Health and the Dane County Coalition to Reduce Alcohol Abuse are using government resources to organize rallies and arrange testimony for the upcoming hearing which clearly a majority of Wisconsin and Dane County citizens are against. If you are one of the majority of Wisconsin citizens over 21 that enjoys beer responsibly, that obeys state laws, that doesn’t drive intoxicated, and that isn’t an abuser of alcohol, make your voice be heard that you are not only against the tax increase, but also against the use of taxpayer funds to promote the tax.

Jeffrey Hamilton
Vice President/General Manager
Sprecher Brewing Company
Vice President
Wisconsin Brewers Guild

A Penny For Your Thoughts - RePublic Brewpub

Joe Walts, Brewmaster of RePublic Brewpub soon-to-be of Sun Prairie, provides a more fact-based dissent. You can read an awesome point-by-point refutation at his website.


I've heard a lot of heated debate over the last week about what the new beer tax will actually do. Those of us who are planning on speaking at Tuesday's hearing: I suggest we all read the new bill very carefully so we don't appear uninformed. Here's what I think:

-The reference to producing less than 300,000 barrels does not mean the proposal is a tax for small breweries only. I can see how the language may suggest it, but the phrase is not a change to the current statutes. Given today's application of the law, I think the wording applies to the tax credit only. In other words, only breweries who produce less than 300,000 barrels annually can receive the 50% tax credit on their first 50,000 barrels. Another way of thinking about it is that the word 'section' refers to 139.02(2) specifically and not 139.02 in its entirety. Any lawyers care to weigh in?

-If I'm correct about the meaning of the word 'section', the statement "all barrels exported out of the state shall be included" does not mean that exported beer will be taxed by Wisconsin. It simply means that exported beer counts against the 300,000 barrel limit for the tax credit. I'm guessing that it always has, but that this is an opportunity for further clarification.

The proposal stinks, but I don't think it's as bad as some people are suggesting. Let's not blow our credibility by getting indignant about the wrong issues.

Here's what I told my representative about beer taxes (slightly modified for coherence):

-They're regressive. The excise taxes paid by a farmer will represent a much higher portion of his/her salary than the excise taxes paid by a CEO of a Fortune 500 company who drinks the same amount of beer.

-Reducing alcohol-related crime improves society as a whole. Responsible drinkers, who cause no more problems than non-drinkers, should not be required to shoulder a greater portion of the financial burden.

-Because the tax is collected from the producer, it will experience two additional markups - wholesale and retail - before reaching the consumer. The wholesale markup is typically around 30%. I'm not sure what the retail markup is at liquor stores, but it's in the same ballpark. In other words, the price increase to consumers will be far more than 2.4 cents per 12-oz bottle (the amount that will likely be claimed by proponents of the bill).

-Taxing volumes of beer instead of volumes of ethanol encourage producers to brew stronger beer. The reason why is because strong beer contains more ingredients than an equal volume standard-strength beer. With beers both taxed at the same rate, brewing ingredients are essentially taxed at a lower rate for strong beers.

-Although I generally oppose all excise taxes, AB-287 specifically targets beer to combat alcohol-related crime. However, the least expensive alcohol to purchase is bottom-shelf spirits. If the easiest way to become intoxicated isn't addressed, I believe the bill will be ineffective at achieving its stated purpose.

-The excise tax itself is taxed by the state sales tax.

A Penny For Your Thoughts - Pearl Street Brewery

Joe Katchever, Brewmaster of Pearl Street Brewery, also writes to Theresa Berceau


Representative Berceau-

I find your "proposal to raise the Wisconsin beer tax by 2.4¢ a 12 oz. bottle for alcohol treatment and prevention" power point presentation to be very subjective and misleading. Factually, it is inaccurate and quite dated, and in merit it is injudicious. First off, this tax will very possibly result in a 50 cent per six pack increase by the time costs are added up along the supply chain. Many of the references you cited for your "facts" were published in the early 90's and even as far back as 1987. Many of your sources are neoprohibitionist organizations and can hardly be taken as fact. One of your slides bears the heading, "Most Wisconsin beer producers pay little in taxes." Tell me, what are the 26 Wisconsin breweries who paid less than $100 in taxes in 2007? Which ones paid less than $1000? I must be doing something wrong because my family-owned brewery paid more in beer taxes than I, personally, earned in 2007. That's beer taxes alone, not income taxes, or property taxes, etc. Who do you expect to believe that $1.08 is the "average price" of a craft beer? Most bars in Madison get about $4 or $5 for a craft beer and the average 6-pack of good beer is closer to $8. While you did point out that Wisconsin breweries are exempt from excise taxes on beer exported out of state, you failed to mention that we DO pay those taxes to the state that the beer is being shipped to, and as you pointed out, many of these states have even higher beer taxes than Wisconsin does. You also failed to mention that beer imported into Wisconsin is subject to the Wisconsin beer tax.

You exclaimed that beer taxes in Wisconsin haven't gone up in some time, but you didn't say in your presentation that Wisconsin beer taxes have not gone up in so long because beer is already, by far, Wisconsin's highest taxed industry. On top of high taxes, Wisconsin breweries collectively spend far more to promote responsible drinking and to prevent alcohol related problems than your legislature does. We would spend even more if we didn't pay so much in taxes. Contrary to what you'd have people believe, we'd like our customers to be alive and healthy.

Blaming the breweries and their workers for the abuses of alcohol is like blaming engineers for earthquakes. Or blaming cows for global warming. Or blaming politicians for corruption. We, the brewers and the responsible beer drinkers of Wisconsin take issue with that. I notice that the revenue from this tax increase is not even earmarked for any type of effort to reduce drinking fatalities, which can only mean the money will go to the general fund to be plundered by your colleagues' "social programs". Isn't that right? If your intentions are sincere, perhaps you wouldn't mind introducing some legislation where Wisconsin breweries' taxes would be decreased by the amount they spend on beer and alcohol education and the promotion of responsible consumption.

Furthermore, I am very curious as to why your proposal targets Wisconsin breweries and not wineries or distilleries. Perhaps you're a wine drinker.

Miss Berceau, you show no knowledge of Wisconsin's rich and wonderful brewing heritage, nor the history of beer and brewing and the important role it's played in our ancestory and in our country's prosperity. Your tax and spend notions have no place in today's economy. You are no friend of the beer drinker.

A Penny For Your Thoughts - The Grumpy Troll

Following is The Grumpy Troll's Brewmaster Mark Duchow's impassioned plea to Rep. Theresa Berceau.

October 5, 2009

TO: Representative Terese Berceau
FROM: Mark Duchow, Brew Master Grumpy Troll Brewery, Restaurant, and Pizzeria
SUBJECT: Assembly Bill 287, the Beer Tax

I am writing to you today in opposition of Assembly Bill 287. I do not believe that the benefit of such a tax can overcome the long-term negative impact that would result. The craft beer industry in Wisconsin and its success provides much more than beer to our communities.

I am a 17 year veteran of the craft brewing industry. I was born and raised in Oconomowoc. My great, great grandfather Otto Kerl, also a brewer, settled the area around Cross Plains when Wisconsin was a just becoming a state. Besides brewing I began hop farming in Green County just outside of Blanchardville with the idea of supplying the local breweries, including the Grumpy Troll, with Wisconsin grown hops.

The road to becoming a successful craft brewer is full of long days full of very hard work and very little pay. Craft brewers have a passion found in few industries today that helps keep us going even when times get difficult. However, the brewing industry has taken several financial blows within the past few years because of environmental conditions and the increasing cost of energy. Brewer’s raw material costs have sky rocketed, hop prices are up 400% from 2006, fuel and grain prices have doubled and we are now seeing a possible increase of 400% in our excise tax, all of this during a recession. Because the craft beer industry operates with a slim profit margin, it has become increasingly challenging to remain profitable.

It has been claimed that the increase equals only three cents per 12 ounce can of beer, and this may true, only three cents. Even if this is true, three cents adds up quickly for the craft brewery; three cents will result in employees that have to be laid off, loan payments that won’t get paid, or that next step to success to become desperately out of reach. Three cents for every 12 ounces can, and most likely will irreversibly damage and possibly kill the Wisconsin craft brewery industry and our American dream.

I, like most Wisconsin craft brewers chose to pursue my dream, the American dream in this state that I love. I have become successful doing something I love and hope to continue for many years. Please do not allow this crippling tax hike to become law. Assembly Bill 287, the Beer Tax is not in the best interests of allowing brewers to earn a fair wage and continue to provide a great and diverse product to the citizens of our great state of Wisconsin.

"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government." - Thomas Jefferson

A Penny For Your Thoughts - Furthermore Beer

All day today I'm going to be publishing comments from brewers and breweries about the beer tax hearing tomorrow at 10am. First up is Chris Staples of Furthermore Beer - he cc'd me on his letter to his assemblyman asking for careful consideration.


Steve [ed note: "Steve" is Steve Hilgenberg, Rep of 51st Assembly District] - Chris Staples from Spring Green here. In addition to being a resident of the River Valley area for fifteen years, I am the owner of Furthermore Beer (and in the interest of full disclosure, contributed to your last campaign.) I write to you to express my dismay at Assembly Bill 287, aka "The Beer Tax". I assume you are aware that Wisconsin craft brewers operate on a razor-thin margin, which is ever-threatened by sky-rocketing raw materials cost (i.e. the change in hops prices over the last five years.) I'm sure you also know that roughly 40% of the retail price of craft-brewed beer is already paid as a tax of one form or another (existing federal and state beer tax, sales tax, payroll tax, etc.) And most importantly, I trust you can see how plainly this proposed increase in tax (from $1/barrel to $10/barrel) is intended simply as a revenue-generator for the General Fund masquerading as a social behavior/public welfare issue. Which, until more proactive measures to inhibit, enforce and penalize drunk-driving are undertaken, I find a bit rich. Because Furthermore Beer is so small, the likely net effect of the tax on our business is this: our prices will go up and our customers either will or will not continue to pay for our product. If they do continue to pay, congratulations! You've just succeeded in enacting a regressive tax that disproportionately effects the middle-class folks in our community who could desperately use a break. If our customers cease buying our products because of the increase in price, congratulations! You will have succeed in putting a local craft brewery out-of-business. Were we a larger company, the tax increase would CERTAINLY mean layoffs at our brewery. While this doesn't effect Furthermore Beer directly, please consider how this would effect Lake Louie in Arena. Or Tyrenena in Lake Mills. Or Lakefront in Milwaukee. Or Sand Creek in Black River Falls. Or Ale Asylum in Madison. Help me out here, Steve. Please don't support Assembly Bill 287. It's industry-crippling and has dubious merit and potential as a social-behavior initiative. Best Regards - Chris Staples, Spring Green

Friday, October 9, 2009

Support For the Beer Tax

Equal time and all that.

Looking for something to do on Tuesday morning? Free donuts, coffee, stickers and buttons.

Given that one of the organizations is run by Dane County, another is run by UW Health, and the third is a lobbying organization, I wonder who's footing the bill for said "donuts, coffee, stickers, and buttons." I'd be pretty upset to find out it was me.

---------------START EMAILS-------------------

Date: October 6, 2009 3:27:07 PM CDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: CCRA: Beer Tax Hearing Update and "Shattered"!

October 6, 2009

Dear Colleagues,

We are working with the statewide AWARE Coalition to coordinate our efforts in relation to AB 287, the proposal to raise Wisconsin's beer tax and direct the proceeds toward the negative impacts of alcohol abuse. The hearing is next Tuesday, October 13th, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 417 North, Capitol. We have joined with AWARE in developing a pre-hearing event on the morning of the 13th. AWARE has arranged for a mobilizing room at the Inn on the Park from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. that day. The will be coffee, donuts, stickers and buttons so that our support can also be very visual.

We hope you can join us for this early-going send-off.

We also wanted you to know about "Shattered", a video produced by McFarland High School students as a message to their teen counterparts about the issues that young people face in relation to alcohol. Students at the high school have had a private showing of the video. The public showing will be this Thursday, October 8th, at 7:00 p.m. at the McFarland High School auditorium, 5103 Farwell Street, McFarland. (Farwell Street is the left hand turn off Highway 51 - if you are going south toward Stoughton - at the corner with Culver's and Kwik Trip; the High School is on the right hand side after the Hardware store).

Here is a link to a feature story in the Wisconsin State Journal about it:

As you can see, a lot is going on.

These are hopeful times,


Dane County Coalition to Reduce
Alcohol Abuse Co-Facilitators
Room 421, City-County Building
Madison, Wisconsin 53703

Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 3:43 PM
Importance: High


The first public hearing in 30 years on increasing the beer tax has been set for Tuesday, October 13 starting at 10:00 a.m. in the State Capitol. I don’t have a room number yet but will forward when it becomes available.

It is very important that we have a strong showing at the public hearing. If we don’t, I fear our future chances of increasing the beer tax for increased law enforcement, alcohol prevention and treatment will be greatly diminished. I realize not all people are comfortable testifying and that’s fine but we also need people to show up and register in support.

I am hoping we can have individuals testify from law enforcement, prevention and treatment professions and also personal testimonials. We know that the tavern league and others will be there in equally strong force.

Please email or call me and let me know if you are attending and how many people you are able to bring. THANKS.

Please don’t forget the conference call on Friday, October 2 from 12-1. The call in number is 866-228-0372 and the code is 6048817910
UW Health
State Legislative Liaison

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Madison Beer Review Presents Beer Talk Today

Part two of this week's podcast is news in 60 seconds, covering a successful Palestinian brewery, a new chapter of the BrewDog controversy, and the Great American Beer festival results.

Here's the mp3


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Day Of Reckoning - Excise Tax Hearing On Tuesday, October 13

Much of this post is going to cut and paste from emails I received from Carl Nolen, President of Capital Brewery and The Wisconsin Brewers Guild, and from Kirby Nelson, Brewmaster at Capital Brewery.

I'll add my own $.02 beyond the $1.50 in opinions I've already contributed to this issue. I agree 100% with Kirby and Carl that this proposal is a cash grab and has nothing to do with reducing "alcoholism" or consumption in this state. To the extent you are told otherwise, you are being lied to. And Kirby nails it on the head: "...they[the proponents of the tax] are coaching their minions to avoid talking about reducing consumption because it leads to job loss discussions. Apparently the message is let’s keep the harm happening and just raise more money."

Moreover, it would be unprecedented in legislative history to have a tax like this as a specific appropriation. Keep in mind, this is not a "sin tax" to pay for a stadium - and the cigarette tax, the tax most similar in that its intent is to guide social behavior, is not a specific appropriation; its money goes to the general fund. Also, if you don't recall, the lobbyist that consulted on this bill has a long history of crafting "social behavior taxes" including the cigarette tax here in Wisconsin.

Finally, I'll reiterate my thoughts that Kirby has alluded to. Personally, I do not oppose the idea of a tax on alcohol for these purposes. BUT, I have two caveats: 1) it should not just target beer, it should be an equal tax increase on all alcohol products; 2) you don't get to raise taxes until you pass meaningful legislation that seeks to target drunk driving - I don't care if it's DUI Checkpoints, increased Dram Shop Act liability, more funding for cops, increased penalties (1st offense is now a misdemeanor only if someone in the car at the time is under 16!? Please.), and/or increased public awareness spending. Until those conditions are met, I refuse to believe that the state purposes behind the law are anything other than a sham to get my money and I'm not just going to voluntarily hand it over.


We have a problematic issue facing us and that is the proposed increase in amount of taxation Wisconsin would impose upon state breweries. To the tune of from $1/bbl that Craft Brewers pay to $10/bbl. Please read Carl’s letter below, it describes the impact such an increase will have.

And I believe there is a problem above and beyond what Carl discusses. For example, the people trying to make this happen are considering changing this from a “tax” to an “impact fee”. They want to emphasize that it is needed to offset the “harm done by beer”. I find it insulting to imply that the millions upon millions of us who enjoy beer are a menace to society and need to pay more to offset our havoc causing ways. This type of mentality cannot go unchallenged.

And this type of statement is hugely ironic in that they are coaching their minions to avoid talking about reducing consumption because it lead to job loss discussions. Apparently the message is let’s keep the harm happening and just raise more money.

And that is what this is all about, more money for their proposed/pet/desired/promised/what have you “programs”. Carl believes all of this taxation discussion is just a land grab for cash. ‘Nuff said.

The point of my email is that we need you. And a whole lot of others. Next Tuesday, October 13th at 10:00 AM there is going to be a hearing on this proposed beer tax increase. I will be sending you a second email that has a link to the specific location and also a link to contact those on the committee considering this.

Please do whatever you can to make it to this hearing. Your presence is important.

And, please forward this to others who are willing to help.


FR: Carl Nolen, President, Wisconsin Brewers Guild

RE: Assembly Bill 287, the Beer Tax

As you know, on Tuesday, October 13 at 10:00 a.m. the Assembly Committee on Public Safety will hold a public hearing on Assembly Bill 287, authored by Rep. Terese Berceau (D-Madison) that would raise the beer tax to $10 per Barrel.

The purpose of this memo is to outline our strategy on this bill, lay out some brief talking points and suggested actions we would like Guild Members to take.

The Strategy: When this issue came up earlier in the year, we understood that Rep. Berceau had been promised a “hearing” on her bill; that is what is happening on October 13th. It is not a final committee vote. Therefore, we want to let them hear from us, but not overwhelm them before we know there will be an actual vote.

Action: We’re asking you to do the following three things

1) Talk to your own legislator: It’s important that we let them know we’re out here, and watching the debate. In addition, even if this beer tax effort were to fail there will be other opportunities for the beer tax to be raised, so it’s important that they hear from us. If you’re not sure who it is, we’ve attached a list.
2) Talk to the “Committee on Public Safety” member that’s nearest to you geographically (We’ve attached a list)
3) Show up: Can you be with us at the Capitol on October 13th? The proponents will most certainly be there – we need to show our strength.

What to say: Talking Points.

1) Your Personal Story: We need legislators to understand your “personal/business story – that is, how this legislation would affect your own business
- Craft brewers are almost all small to medium size businesses with 1-30 employees.
- The margins are very small and most companies have been operating at or below break even during this recession
- You’re working long hours to make your business work, in a very tough economy that has seen raw material costs go up dramatically over the last five years alone.
- This proposed increase would:

A. Likely result in a significant decline in our industry and punish all beer enthusiast if the cost increase was passed onto consumers
B. Would result in a significant loss of jobs (total production x $9 BBL/ average employee production wage = # employees) for the Capital Brewery this equates to 30% of our work force.

- The list of challenges is long

2) We are already heavily taxed: Proponents of the beer tax legislation like to point out that Wisconsin has one of the lower beer taxes in the country.
- On average, between federal and state beer taxes, sales taxes, payroll, business and other taxes and fees, about 40% of the retail price of beer is a tax in one form or another.
- It is already highly taxed in spite of Wisconsin’s relatively low beer tax.
- We cannot afford to absorb the cost of tax increases; because the margins are small, craft brewers are faced with either laying off employees, or passing the tax on to consumers
- If the tax is passed on, it will very possibly result in a 50 cent per six pack increase by the time costs are added up along the supply chain.
- Beer taxes are regressive, and disproportionally inflict costs on lower-to-middle income consumers. Nearly 63% of beer in the U.S. in purchased by low and moderate income consumers

3) Craft Brewers are the “Home Team” in Wisconsin
- There are approximately 65 craft brewers in operation in Wisconsin.
- The old names Schlitz, Heileman, Blatz, Pabst no longer dominate; craft brewing has seen careful and steady growth with names like (yours), Capital, Lake Louie, Sprecher, Tyranena, New Glarus, Central Waters and many others.
- We hire workers, buy local products and ingredients, pay taxes, and contribute to their local communities.
- We are among the nation’s leaders in variety and quality of craft beer made here, and the number of craft brewers that call the Badger state their home.
- Why would we want to punish these businesses?

As always, be very courteous, specific, and brief. Thank them or their staff for taking time to talk with you, and tell them they can always call you if they have any specific questions, or want to stop by your business.

We are roughly two weeks from the hearing. If we can get all association members to at least call their own legislator, as well as a committee legislator, we’ll have a big impact. And if you can make it to Madison on October 13th, it’ll be great to show the Guild flag.

Feel free to contact our lobbying team of: Brian Schimming (608) 220-7132, Mike Brozek (608) 576-5300 at Midwest Strategy Group if you have any questions whatsoever.

Thanks much for all your work.

Assembly Committee on Public Safety

Representative Tony Staskunas (D-West Allis), Chair
(608) 266-0620

Representative Bob Zigelbauer (D-Manitowoc) Vice-Chair
(608) 266-0315

Representative David Cullen (D-Milwaukee)
(608) 267-9836

Representative Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire)
(608) 266-0660

Representative Terese Berceau (D-Madison)
(608) 266-3784

Representative Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay/Door County)
(608) 266-5350

Representative Al Ott (R-Forest Junction/Upper Fox Valley)
(608) 266-5831

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Madison Beer Review Presents Beer Talk Today

On the first part of this weeks podcast, we check in with Aran Madden of Furthermore Beer to talk about their third annual Shitty Barn Party and the release of their fall seasonal Fallen Apple.

Here's the mp3


Monday, October 5, 2009

PorterPalooza #6 - Yuengling Porter

This beer isn't, technically, available here in Wisconsin. But, Yuengling is an interesting brewery. For whatever reason, despite the fact that Yuengling is a Pennsylvania brewery, I associate it with the South where it is also available.

Yuengling is a fairly large brewery, but it doesn't qualify as a "craft" according to the Brewer's Association because the flagship, Yuengling Lager, is not all-malt (it contains significant adjuncts like rice or corn).

Nonetheless, Yuengling is one of the largest regional breweries in the states and its beer is well-loved. The love derives mostly from the fact that, founded in 1829, it is the oldest brewery in the United States. This Porter was one of the original brands and Yuengling first brewed it in 1829.

Yuengling Porter
BeerAdvocate (B-). RateBeer (54).
Appearance: After twisting off the cap and pouring into my old-school Augsburger stemmed glassware, I got a thick tan head and a dark, classic-porter color with moderate carbonation
Aroma: roasted and bready, but a fairly light aroma; a faint caramel maybe?
Flavor: about all I have time for before the flavor is gone is some fairly strong roast with a tiny bit of residual sweetness; no hops
Body: medium-bodied, but the flavor is gone quickly
Drinkability: fine if nothing else - if this is what was offered I could probably drink 3 or 4 of them and not really complain a whole lot; but, I'm not sure I'd voluntarily drink it absent no other choice and an overwhelming urge for a porter
Summary: It's fine, but nothing that I'd go out of my way to track down. I'd compare it with Sand Creek's Badger Porter in that they are both fine beers, but won't be mistaken for the best beers you can get

Friday, October 2, 2009

Almost Forgot - JT Whitneys Has A New Tenant

In case you haven't heard, the folks that own the Varsity ClubVintage [ed note: ugh..] downtown are the new tenants at JT Whitneys. They intend to hire a relative who is a brewer out in California to be the brewmaster there.

Them's the rumors at least.

Press Release Friday - Pearl Street Brewery Awards [updated]

Two press releases from Joe Katchever, brewmaster of Pearl Street Brewery:

-------------START PRESS RELEASE----------------------
This evening [ed note: the press release was sent to me on Wednesday September 30th], Pearl Street Brewery will unveil it's 2009 Harvest Ale at La Crosse Oktoberfest's Craft Beer Night! Brewmaster, Joe Katchever will be there himself, pouring this new seasonal release.

Featured on 95.7 the Rock's Morning Sickness this morning, the 2009 Harvest Ale is A full-bodied American Amber Ale, brewed with Wisconsin malt and hops grown at the Pearl Street Brewery! The hops are hand-picked every August by employees and friends of the brewery and are used to create this beer's intriguing flavor and aroma.

Your first chance to get a taste of this years' brew will be tonight at the Southside fest grounds between 4:00 and 8:00 and the remaining 2009 Harvest Ale will be available at PSB's Tasting Room until it runs out.

The Tasting Room is located at Pearl Street Brewery 1401 Saint Andrew Street and is open to the public Tuesday-Friday from 4:00-8:00 and from noon-5:00 on Saturdays. The brewery offers tours every Saturday!

----------PRESS RELEASE #2 [update: the original send accidentally re-printed the first PR--------------------
For immediate release:

Pearl Street Brewery's '09 Harvest Ale wins the Oktoberfest Gold Medal last night! Their DTB Brown Ale takes home the Bronze. The stiff competition of 45 other worldwide competitors included Fat Tire, Goose Island, RedHook, Capital Autumnal Fire, Gray's, Sand Creek, Flying Dog, Spotted Cow and Honey Weiss.

Last night, Pearl Street Brewery unveiled it's 2009 Harvest Ale at La Crosse Oktoberfest's Craft Beer Night! The 2009 Harvest Ale is a full-bodied American Amber Ale, brewed with hops grown at the Pearl Street Brewery.
These particular hops are hand-picked every Fall by employees and friends of the brewery and are used to create this beer's intriguing flavor and aroma.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Press Release Thursday - Beer and Art

From Joe Walts at RePubic Brewpub coming soon to Sun Prairie.

------START PRESS RELEASE-----------

I'm sure some of you are wondering "how can Joe claim to be serious about opening a brewery when he hasn't even participated in an art gallery showing?" Tomorrow, at the grand opening of Maatwerk Studio on Winnebago St, I'll be serving a pumpkin ale impostor: a dark beer brewed with butternut squash, pumpkin pie spices and fermented with a monastic Belgian yeast. Event details are below. The cover charge will used to purchase raffle prizes from featured artists at future events (I'm guessing the vase is Matt's). If you're interested, I think you can buy advance tickets on the website.

Matt intends to have weekly or bi-weekly showings, so get in touch with him at if you'd like to showcase your art at one of them.


You are invited to join us for the
Madison location
Friday October 2nd, 2009
from 8pm - Midnight

Featuring: Live Flameworking
Includes Complimentary Food and Micro brew,
and Showcasing Art by
Matthew Heindl,Scott Shapiro, and Peter Smith

Door Prizes will be
A certificate for a 2-hour class
& a $300 Glass Vase

Tickets: $25 in advance
Or $35 at the door
only 50 tickets available

Location: 2040 Winnebago St, Suite B; Madison, WI 53704
click on the link below to purchase tickets

PorterPalooza #5 - Greene King Olde Suffolk


At the beginning of September I interviewed Dan Carey for an article I was writing about the New Glarus Old English Porter. Mr. Carey mentioned two beers that served as models for the Old English Porter - Rodenbach (which I've yet to see back in Wisconsin), and Greene King's Olde Suffolk. Greene King is a British brewery that's changed hands a few times but is brewed in Bury St Edmunds, England - an hour-and-a-half drive North-East of London. Greene King also brews Old Speckled Hen. The Olde Suffolk is aged for two years on oak and then blended with a young, dark, full-bodied beer.

It's not technically a Porter, but nonetheless, these are my tasting notes.

Olde Suffolk
BeerAdvocate (A-). RateBeer(94).

Appearance: thin, wispy head; flat coca-cola body
Aroma: for such a dark beer, a surprisingly light, bright aroma, smells a bit like cola with its bright sweetness, a malt and roast and some burnt toastiness lies beneath
Flavor: coffee-like with a strong smoky sourness; sasparilla (root-beer); a strong woodiness in the finish
Body: a lithe body with a bit of softness on the front of the palatte, but a firmness throughout; maltiness and sourness lingers
Drinkability: While sessionability is low, drinkability is very high - this would be great beer to have in your back pocket to pull out in almost any occassion
Summary: I can definitely see how this was an inspiration for the Old English Porter; it has subtlety and drinkability and warms up expceptionally well; it has some strange sour notes in it that some might be put off by, but I think it's pretty nice character.