Press Clips: More Craft Legislation; Distributor Goes Green

Not to make light of the king of Israel’s plight, but if the relationship between today’s craft brewers and big beer is at all, as many suggest, comparable to the biblical bout between David and Goliath, one must also add a second Goliath to the analogy. It’s David and Goliath and Government.

Take, for instance, this headline from The Dallas News: “Sen. John Carona’s loss in the Republican primaries is a win for Texas craft brewers.”

Now, before going any further, it should absolutely be noted that Michael Peticolas, owner and operator of Peticolas Brewing Co. in Dallas, wrote the celebratory op-ed that lies beneath that headline.

Anyway, some quick backstory: in April, the Texas state legislature passed Carona’s proposed bill, stripping brewers of their (litigious) right to self-distribute.

Here’s a snippet from an earlier Dallas News article (also penned by Peticolas): “Prior to the passage of Senator Carona’s law, a brewer willing to sell its self-distribution rights and a wholesaler willing to buy those rights could enter into an agreement whereby the wholesaler purchased the brewer’s right to distribute beer in a specified territory. Senator Carona’s law now renders such practice illegal and is a legal constraint on the freedom of willing buyers and sellers to exercise their rights in the free market.”

According to Peticolas, craft brewers in Texas “warned against taking on a politician with as much clout as Carona,” fearing that “publicly backing his opponent could cause legislative issues for brewers for years to come.”

Craft brewers, ever the rebels, pulled back their slingshots anyway.

Peticolas Brewing Co. and Deep Ellum Brewing Co. believed the potential benefit of Carona’s removal outweighed the risk of further alienating a politician seemingly already against them. Consequently, both breweries publicly supported Don Huffines in his campaign against Sen. Carona and hosted political fundraisers at their breweries to raise funds and awareness of craft beer legislation.”

Nearly 50,000 North Texans voted in the Republican primary in March, and Huffines bested Carona by 635 votes, according to the article.

“In the minds of Texas craft brewers, there is little doubt that Peticolas and Deep Ellum put the Huffines campaign over the top and delivered the swing 635 votes needed to remove Carona from office,” Peticolas concludes.

That’s not to say Government (or big beer for that matter) is inherently and strictly around solely to poke and prod craft brewers with a branding iron. On the contrary, in South Carolina, lawmakers are working together on what has become known as the “Stone Bill,” which would increase the number of barrels a brewpub is allowed to produce per year from 2,000 to 500,000. Its nickname derives from the fact that Stone Brewing, the Escondido, Calif.-based brewery, is actively seeking a location for a proposed East Coast facility and the state is not-so-secretly trying to woo craft’s most Arrogant Bastards.

As Brewbound reported yesterday, six lawmakers from both the House and Senate held a conference committee to parse the language of the bill, but there was a healthy dose of optimism that the bill would pass and ultimately be signed into law.

Early this morning, Greenville Online published an update, detailing what came out of that meeting.

The result: it turns out a final vote on the bill has been delayed, although the article notes that brewers and wholesalers remain optimistic, the bill will pass before the legislative session ends on June 5.

Rep. Derham Cole, a sponsor of the bill, shared that confidence, despite it being on hold until next week.

“We still have time to get it done this session,” he told the website.

These types of legislative issues driven by brewers have proved wonderful fodder for the insatiable media covering this growing industry, but woe betide those ignoring the work being done by the other players in the three-tier system.

The Tampa Bay Times has the story about how Great Bay Distributors (of Pinellas County) is building the largest private solar system in the state of Florida.

According to the article, the “1.5-megawatt solar array will be part of its massive new facility under construction.” The company anticipates reducing its electric bill “by as much as 40 percent,” when the facility is operational, it continues.

Great Bay Distributors is the state’s largest distributor of Anheuser-Busch products.

“We wanted to do something for the environment, do something green,” Ed James, the company’s electrical engineering manager, told the website. “But it also has do with the monetary benefit. That’s wasted space up there on the roof. It’s not making anybody any money. What else are you going to do with it?”

The article continues: “The installed cost of the system will run about $1.73 a watt and should pay for itself in about 6.3 years, [Scott] McIntyre [of Solar Energy Management] said. The price tag includes a 30 percent federal tax credit. Also, the company saves money by installing the array during construction of a new facility, as opposed to retrofitting an older building.”

Great Bay president Ron Petrini told the website that the new facility will also enable the company to add more brands while continuing to grow its operation.

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