February 2, 2011

A Small Rant About the East Coast Beer Scene, and Gluten-Free Labeling Issues North of the Border

Okay, so I have a bunch of boring news

SCHEDULING, PEOPLE

I sat down to plan and budget for my various beer outings and voyages this year. No big deal, right? GABF in September, the usual slew of summer stuff including SAVOR and Philly Beer Week as definites, and I promised myself I'd hit ACBF up in Boston this year. Let's just grab a calendar and--

Seriously?

ACBF (which describes itself as "Largest celebration of American craft beer on the east coast!"), the Opening Weekend of Philly Beer Week (" the largest beer celebration of its kind in America") and SAVOR (modestly "A must-attend for craft beer aficionados and foodies alike") are ALL ON THE SAME WEEKEND. So June 3-5, you can either learn to teleport, or you leave off at least one of the summer's major beer events on the East Coast.

I swear, this is the worst calendar clipart I could find.
I love living on the East Coast. Yes, I know people in Portland look down on us from their hop tower. Yes, I know San Diego County thinks we're crazy for living in a place with bad weather and far away from Stone Brewing. But I like it. We have great breweries, great beer cities and great beer writers. We're home to Victory, Dogfish, Sixpoint, Yuengling and even Vermont and Maine if you really don't mind snow. We've got Lew Bryson, the Alstrom Brothers, and Garrett Oliver. Max's Taphouse, Monk's Cafe, Rattle N Hum... I could keep going, of course, but you get the idea; It's good people and good beer out here, all (generally) on the same side.

So why, oh why, can't we get together and make it so that only TWO of our major beer events occur at the same time?

I get that brewers want to handle as much of it in one sweep as possible, but is this really convenient for them? Won't it result in at least one event being staffed almost entirely by volunteers and sales reps, rather than brewery personnel? I just can't believe this is convenient for anybody. Please, someone, tell me why I'm wrong. I really want to be wrong about this.

GLUTEN FREE LABELING FOR CANADIAN BREWERS

Our friends over at Triumph's Gluten Free Blog have a story on the battle in Canada between the Canadian Celiac Association and the Canadian Brewers' Association over whether labeling for beer would require a mandatory warning that the beer contains barley and therefore is not suitable for Celiacs and gluten intolerant consumers.

Opponents point out that requiring every brewery to change everything will be incredibly costly (particularly for craft brewers), and that beer containing barley isn't exactly a big secret. I agree with Caty (post's author) that assuming equal access to health information isn't always a great idea, but this just seems too rough on the risk-reward scale. That's a lot of money and regulation for the infinitesimally small-to-nonexistant group of gluten-sensitives who DON'T know that beer has barley. 

I agree with the strain of thought that labeling needs to be better. In both Canada and the US, we don't have good enough definitions or watchdogs for "gluten free." If we fix that and make sure labels are clear, that has to be enough to make silly obvious notes unnecessary, right?

SOME LINKS ON BEER AND BUSINESS

A modest proposal: Rename


A return to art tomorrow, I promise.

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