These short vidoes by the American Homebrewer’s Association are perfect for getting started:
These short vidoes by the American Homebrewer’s Association are perfect for getting started:
I’m a huge fan of small business. After all, would I have attempted this business if I were not? I also believe it takes a lot of faith to give your idea a try because no matter how many numbers you crunch and how well prepared you believe that you are, there will always be challenges once you’re up and running. That’s why every chance that I get, I like to frequent and support other small businesses.
This weekend my family and I found a few gems thanks to the referrals made by a couple of our customers. The first one has me so delighted that I can barely think straight wondering if I’m going to be able to make it back out to the farmer’s market in Palmyra this weekend. Sandi’s Breads makes incredible creations that will completely knock your socks off. I purchased three loaves of bread on Saturday and there’s nothing left at my house this Monday morning. I’ve even heard that they sometimes make a Troeg’s bread from the spent grain that Troeg’s uses to make beer. I’ll be looking for that one.
Later in the day on Saturday we made our way to Mt. Joy and had the distinct pleasure of dining at Zuckfoltzfus Brewing Co.. My fork was going wild snagging bits off of everyone else’s dinner plate because all the food was outstanding. Karen, one of the owners, was especially kind to note that we had small children that might have delicate taste buds.
That’s the kind of thing you can do when you’re a small business. When you meet your customers face to face you have an opportunity to observe their needs and acknowledge them. Even if you don’t have what they need immediately, you’re able to adjust and obtain it so that you’re providing excellent service.
Both of these small businesses provided us with exceptional service and amazing product this weekend. Three cheers from The Whistle!
The homebrew club has their act together and they’re looking ahead. While I’m stocking the Whistle shelves with fall beer, it’s time for brewers to be thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since the month of December is decidedly crazy, the Lebanon Area Fermenters will not have a meeting that month. Instead, in November they’re doing a really cool beer exchange.
Twelve of the members are brewing a beer from Randy Mosher’s “12 Beers of Christmas” list in his book “Radical Brewing”. There are a few beers that haven’t been grabbed up to brew, so if you’re interested, get in touch with Lee Umberger at LUmberger@comcast.net.
A few of the homebrewers have been in The Whistle this week and have shared how they’re enhancing and tweaking the recipes. There are a few of them that I’m so excited about that I’ve put in special requests for tastings! Here are the twelve beers that they will be creating:
1. Caramel Quadrupel
2. Spiced Cherry Dubbel
3. Spice Dunkel Weizenbock
4. Juniper Rye Bock
5. Fruitcake Old Ale
6. Saffron Tripel
7. Christmas Gruit
8. Honey Ginger IPA
9. Crabapple Lambicky Ale
10. Gingerbread Ale
11. Spiced Bourbon Stout
12. Abbey Weizen
Now can you see why I’m so excited for them? If you’re a home brewer, it’s Christmas time! Get planning and brewing for the season.
As summer winds down and the fall legislative session creeps closer, there are more articles, tweets, op-eds, blog posts and editorials appearing about Pennsylvania liquor privatization. Since the summer session closed on June 30th without the passage of a privatization plan there have been several of these communications that suggest that liquor privatization is not a priority and that other, more pressing matters need to be considered.
Yet $2.5 million dollars were spent on the privatization effort so far in 2013 and during the heat of the debate we’ve heard repeatedly about the importance of maintaining the jobs that are created by the current system. $2.5 million is not a pittance and jobs are not trivial.
Let’s consider that in order for consumers to have access to libations that tickle their taste buds, those products must arrive on trucks, which must travel on Pennsylvania roads and bridges. As it stands now, when a PA consumer wants a bottle of wine or a sweet and tangy vodka, he or she visits a state store where an employee of the Commonwealth that participates in the state pension program assists with the sale.
There are also nearly 14,000 current private businesses that hold a liquor license. They’re the businesses where you relax, dine and drink and they’re the businesses where you hunt for that specialty drink that will liven up your final summer party. They’re also the small businesses behind the scenes that negotiate with your favorite brewer to bring the latest and greatest beer to our market. They’re the businesses that support our local economy.
The final days of June were filled with intensity over the liquor debate. As an advocate for privatization I watched as a viable plan to improve our industry degenerated into something that was barely workable and finally into something that just could not pass. The days of summer have ticked on and I’ve read posts that criticize the effort and malign the idea that liquor privatization is important and it is disappointing.
Those of us in the industry are holding our breath. We’d like to make changes in our businesses, we’d like to improve our services, hire new people and be creative. And instead we wait and our communities wait as well.
Liquor privatization is not unimportant. It isn’t trivial. Even if you don’t drink, the probability of an improved local economy will impact your life. Every single resident of this Commonwealth should know where we stand on liquor privatization. We need a more flourishing economy, we need better roads, we need a feasible plan for pension reform. Nothing happens in isolation. One of those things is not more important than the other and if we address each of those items with the attention they deserve we may be able to get something completed this fall.
A cooperative approach by legislators, interested parties and consumers is necessary. There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Privatization is important for us all. Change is difficult and fear surrounds most of the issue, but the residents and businesses within our Commonwealth want better for our state. We cannot dismiss the importance of one issue without demeaning the efforts at improving the others. Even if you don’t drink, you’re life will be impacted by Pennsylvania privatization and our combined efforts could make that a positive impact on our communities, our businesses and the economic health of our Commonwealth.
Yesterday I had an opportunity to speak as an advocate for my industry at a press conference held by Governor Tom Corbett. Some folks say I’m in opposition to the MBDA, but in truth, I’m simply a proponent of our industry. We need to be able to sell more products and that specifically means wine and spirits as well as smaller packages of beer.
Click here for the link to the video of the press conference.
Many, many beer distributors want to sell wine and spirits in addition to beer in any package size. It’s simple logic. If we have more product to sell, we have more of a chance to be successful. And, yes, I believe that we can be successful in a varied market. I don’t believe we can compare our situation to other states in terms of how we dismantle the current system, but when we look at alcohol beverage retailers elsewhere, we see that they exist in all sizes in environments where the license structure is not so restrictive.
There was a comedic moment yesterday after the press conference where a man in the hallway accused me of advocating for the change because I want to sell my liquor license and I want it to be valuable. Where my business goes from here is not yet fully determined, but I will say this, I’m proud to stand and say that I want my business to have value. I challenge anyone to find a beer distributor or any business owner for that matter that doesn’t want their business to have value!
Admittedly, here on my blog I had an outburst of anger earlier in this game and perhaps said some things about people that may or may not be accurate in terms of intentions. So, it is only fair that those same people speculate about my intentions. The beauty of it is that if my business retains it’s value, the businesses of those that claim to be in opposition to my ideas also retain value and it’s a win for everyone.
Looking forward to seeing the final plan and negotiating the terms so that the demands of the consumers are met and so that small business can continue to thrive in our Commonwealth.
You might not know it by my past month’s blogging, but this really is a beer store web site with a beer store blog. It’s just that until the privatization issue is resolved, the primary concern for all Pennsylvania beer store owners is how they will conduct business under the new world order of selling alcoholic products. For that reason, my time has been dedicated to having a loud voice for my business. All of you out there with businesses of your own certainly understand.
This week the last of the Senate hearings were completed and we look ahead to next week for the plan that will be put forth by the Senate. The Reading Eagle posted an article with some interesting quotes from key legislators regarding the plan to be unveiled next Tuesday.
Being a highly organized person and someone that likes to have things planned out in advance, it’s been an education for me to go through this political process. I have learned that even though this may seem like a late hour in the discussion of privatization, our voices still very much matter. This means that if you are a consumer that wants one stop shopping for your purchases, contact your Senator now. If you’re a beer distributor that wants to sell wine and liquor in your store, contact your Senator and let him or her know that you favor privatization within the structure of HB790 and that you want to have a voice in the negotiations of the next few weeks.
Big business will also be clamoring for their share, so if you support small businesses it’s helpful to let your legislator know that as well. As a small business owner, I know that there are some compromises to be made, but I also know that opening up this market means that I will have opportunities that just don’t exist for me now.
On the lighter side, I’ve been avidly reading about craft distilling, the components of wine, flavored liquors and ways to offer the best products for my customers. I admit that cinnamon flavored Tequila intrigues me. Let’s have tastings non-stop once our new store is up and running so that all of us can celebrate our freedom and discover new flavors and products! I’m optimistic.
For a summary of where we are in the process listen to my round table with Kevin Shivers of NFIB and Matt Brouillette of The Commonwealth Foundation at lincolnradiojournal.com.
My last post was angry and I’m over it now. The battle for Pennsylvania privatization rages on and while it seems certain that something will come out of the Senate, we are simply uncertain of what that something will be. I hoped that at this point we would be negotiating the details of HB790, but we aren’t. We are now wondering exactly what the Senate will produce and how it will impact beer distributors.
I have attempted to be a voice for myself and for other beer distributors that think along the lines that I do. On-line and in the media it may appear as if I’m a lone wolf in my ideas, but, in fact there are countless beer distributors that want to sell wine and spirits and believe that we could have negotiated something favorable with the outline of HB790.
I’ve taken a lot of heat for having only been in the beer business for two years. This response to my commentary of a few weeks ago calls me “too dumb to appreciate it”. My business is no less important to me for having been around two years than it would be if I had been around for 30. If it helps my critics, there ARE beer distributors that have been around for that long that support the effort made by HB790. John Karinch of Karinch Beer Distributors in Lebanon is one of them.
It would be my greatest wish for beer distributors to educate themselves and rely less on other people, including organizations to tell them what is good for their business. It would be my next greatest wish for there to be healthy consideration and debate about what will be best for the business of selling alcohol in PA.
Many of you may not know that I hold a doctorate in natural health. Yep, I have the title of ND. What does this have to do with beer you ask? Everything. Way before I was selling beer or beer making products I was growing, harvesting, drying, steeping, mashing and brewing with herbs. Class upon class upon class of herbal lore, growing and usage. And I loved it.
Hops will be the first type of herb that will come to your mind when you’re thinking beer. And, it’s true that hops are now the primary herb used in beer making (thanks to the Germans for legislating that a few hundred years ago). Hops are also a valuable sleep agent. A few years ago I went through a period of having trouble with sleep and I used to concoct a tea with hops, valerian, rose hips and chamomile. The hops were bitter, the valerian smelled and tasted horrible and the rose hips and chamomile added a sweet, gentle flavor that made it palatable. It rocked in terms of getting me to sleep!
Now, with the boom of craft beer we’re beginning to see brewers that are popping up with the idea of using a variety of herbs to create beer. Gruits is the term used to encompass the herbal ingredients that brewers are playing with in their beers.
Just a few months ago I read Stephen Harrod Buhner’s “Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers” and was fascinated with the mixture of herbs that can be used together in a fermented beverage that tickles the senses.
May 13th – 18th is American Craft Beer Week. A week honoring the artistry of craft brewers and home beer maker’s alike. As I read about stinging nettle (which is sweet), yarrow (bitter), lavender and heather being used in beer I’m wondering what our local home brewer’s have tried? I’d love to hear your herbal beer stories.
I felt that I might be clogging up my business blog with my views on liquor privatization (although, really, it IS the most important thing going on in my industry right now), so I thought I’d develop another site that compiles information that I gather on the subject. It even gives me an opportunity to give my two cents.
That isn’t to say that some of it won’t still bleed onto this site, but it creates an outlet where I can post the bulk of it for anyone interested in reading details about the pending legislation. You’ll find the site at www.beerolitics.com.
I’d love it if you’d take the time to do the quick survey as a comment on that page. It helps to narrow down what consumers are really wanting in the passage of this bill.
Steve Snyder wrote an article for the Lebanon Daily News that highlighted some advantages and disadvantages for Lebanon County with regard to the recent bill that was passed by the House of Representatives in Pennsylvania. We weighed in: