Thursday, January 09, 2014

Strong Ciders Now on Draft

If I were to ask any of you what your biggest gripe is, in regards to Utah's beer scene is - most of you would probably say the ban of "high point" beer on draft. This has been a point of contention for many beer drinkers in Utah since the end of Prohibition, why should it matter what type of container your beer is poured from as long as the state collects the tax on it.

Those that frequent many of the newer drinking establishments around Salt Lake may have noticed that some places are now pouring wine from draft along with bottles. Now as most drinkers know wines are generally in the neighborhood of around 11% ABV, that's far above the average beer ABV that's about 6.5% to 7%.

What's the difference? they're all made the same way, wine is fermented grapes - beer is fermented grain. But there is another pub beverage out there that sometimes gets overlooked that's made from basic fermentation, Hard Ciders. Like beer and wine - ciders are a simple fermented beverage that occupy the same ABV range as beer. The only real difference is the ingredients. But the state of Utah sees a huge difference in these three fermented beverages, for some reason high point beer is just too fucking dangerous to be poured on draft at bars.

Starting today, you will start seeing high point ciders (Strongbow) - along with wine flowing from taps in some Utah bars in all of their high gravity glory. How does this contradictory shit come about? It gives me a migraine every time I try to wrap my head around the DABC's logic on these matters. Partially it revolves around highly uniformed people writing laws for an industry they barely tolerate and do their best to sweep under the rug.

Don't get me wrong, any little crumb of normalcy we can snatch up from the carpets of  Utah's liquor chaos is more than welcome in my world, I just pine for a little consistency. So congrats to you, Utah adult beverage consumer - for the freedoms you have that you never knew you got (until they figure it out and take 'em away again) . Welcome to Utah 2014!  

Cheers!

Pictured above: Strongbow Kegs courtesy of Whiskey Street

26 comments:

Ed said...

So what's the over/under on how long this lasts?

kent said...

I'm very excited about this. But Ed's got a point. I could see the legislature and DABC putting an end to all draft wine and cider sales once this becomes more widely known, instead of doing the logical thing and raising the abv limit on draft beer.

Mikey said...

My guess is wine & cider on draft won't last past April or May. The 2014 legislative seasion next month will see to that.

MCBREW SO JORDAN said...

I'm curious where in the DABC rules or control acts this is found?

Ray said...

I disagree, I think this what happens when a group of business owners lobby with each OTHER for their businesses and their CONSUMERS, the breweries need to take note when you work TOGETHER it's beneficial for all! Yet this is just one Beer drinkers opinion.

Emily A said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mikey said...

I hope Ray is right. Though I will remind everyone whenever a loophole or an omitted phrase leads to a loosening of liquor laws (5 liter kegs, no token beer festivals, etc.) Sen. John Valentine quickly moves to crush all hopes.

James said...

I agree with Ray. However, I'm not sure what the motivation would be for Utah Breweries to lobby together to change the container size law. If the law was changed to allow "heavy beer" served on draft, wouldn't the market share be lost to outside breweries?

kent said...

Well I'll cross my digits, but the pessimist in me isn't holding my breath.

Now I'm off to drink the shit out of this cider!

Matthew said...

I know Epic strongly (no pun intended) wants the ability to sell their beer on draft here in Utah. Do the likes of Uinta, Squatters, and Wasatch want that? Does that actually hurt their current stronghold on 4.0 barrel sales? I want to see the Beerhive and The Bayou selling 30 taps of Russian River, Lagunitas, Epic, and Dogfishhead (amongst others), but I'm assuming even some of Utah's breweries are somewhat lobbying against that right?

Matthew said...

Sorry - didn't mean to post something similar to James post up above.

James said...

Well said Matt

D-Dub said...

I hear the argument that 4% beer protects Utah brewers a lot. The question I ask is: Do you need the handicap? Can you not compete on a level playing field? It reinforces the idea that Utah beer is an inferior product and would fail if it were not protected by law.
I hear people from out of state say "don't waste your time" regarding our beer. They buy bottles of Sierra Nevada or Lev and complain about how expensive it is to drink here. If we could lose the stigma of "3.2 beer" it would do well by all of us.
Ironically, I think Epic would have the most to lose if the law were changed. If all the sudden all Utah beer is "full strengh" (that's a whole other tangent), the perception of being the only brewery to produce such beer is gone.
If everyone thought the way some do on this topic, no one would open any breweries anywhere because Sierra Nevada and Rogue already exist, and why would people bother with their crappy beer when they can get those.
Ok. That's enough, or more, out of me.

James said...

I don't think it's an issue of not being able to produce quality "high point" beer. The stronghold is in the fact that the majority of outside breweries will not brew 4% abv. beer to compete with Wasatch/Squaters & Uinta... They have a nice little 4% niche.

Ray said...

I think this was a product of the law that got rid of beer flights,

Ray said...

James you are 100% right, that is why we still have the 4% tap law!

The Yukons said...

Matt/James IMO are spot on. And if this remains the case, the compromise to me is to take out state ran liquor stores and put in some free market public ones, and let them import ANY bottled, and wow, keep em cold!

(lights up the pipe...dream)

Ed said...

OK--Now I'm confused...

1: Is this a result of a change in law/policy that was lobbied for? Or did someone just discover a loophole in the law (which was written by people who maybe didn't even know fermented cider exists)?

2: There are plenty of "local" brewers getting along fine in places with no draft ABV restrictions. So, to come up with a conspiracy theory about our locals keeping national/regional brands off of the taps because they wouldn't be able to compete on a "level playing field", I guess you'd have to believe that they're making vastly inferior products? Do I have that right?

Ed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ray said...

Ed the DBAC considers cider as a wine (I think?) not as beer.

D-Dub said...

I don't dispute the 4% niche or the motivations behind it. I just dispute that it is a good thing for Utah beer. We can tell people about the positives of session beer all day long, but to many it just looks like excuses. It's hard enough to educate the public about craft beer without the extra challenge of trying to explain "3.2 beer" vs. "real beer".
My beers got a positive online review the other day, which is very nice, but it started out with "This rating is for 3.2% Utah beer only"
I would just like to see all the brewers in this state get recognized for the quality work they do without disclaimers.
I hope this issue opens up a can of worms and that John Valentine gets lost in the woods during the Leg session.

Trent said...

As I understand it when I went to the public meeting "Through a glass darkly" Valentine's whole intention is to make it hard and expensive to get alcohol so that it keeps the amount of consumption down. The entire goal as I understand it is to prevent people from binge drinking and to keep kids away from it. They want to reduce the "human cost" of the problems associated with alcohol.

They have taken some studies that looked at alcohol related social costs and have tired through legislation come to a balance justifying revenue collection vs human social costs.

At the end of the day if your going on a bender you are not drinking 6 22oz bombers of 10%abv craft beer. You hit the bottle, duh.

One other thing Valentine said he adopted the laws of Wyoming for Utah and the zion curtain. I have yet to look up the Wyoming laws but I've never seen a Wyoming curtain.

TheChadwick said...

Where can we find them?

Andrew said...

I tried to get a cider on tap at Whiskey Street last night. The server told me the DABC sold them the cider. Then called them and told them they couldn't serve it.

kent said...

Very interesting Andrew. I was afraid that might happen, I just thought it would take longer.

Mikey said...

I'm hearing that the ciders can only be be 4 oz. pours, same as wine and that Whiskey Street may have been in violation of that. Who knows....