You won’t get a buzz from this craft beer news roundup but what about from your beer? Cannabis-infused beer comes to Colorado while people just say “no” to pumpkin beers. Rwanda looks to jump on the craft beer bandwagon and in New Mexico and Michigan they’re brooding about proposed alcohol tax increases.
Aurora, Coloroado-based brewery Dad and Dudes Breweria will debut the first federally approved cannabis-infused beer (canna-beer?) at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival. The beer, General Washington’s Secret Stash, contains 0% THC and will not get you stoned. Instead, it contains high levels of non-psychoactive cannabinoids and was brewed to challenge, “the status quo that has unfairly demonized cannabis,” according to the brewery’s Kickstarter page. Having been approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the beer can be packaged and distributed to all 50 states.
A proposal submitted by the candidly named Alcohol Taxes Save Lives and Money group in New Mexico asks lawmakers to raise the alcohol excise tax by roughly $0.25 per drink. If enacted, the increase would give the state the highest alcohol excise tax in the country, “more than 2½ times the second-highest” (Tennessee). The Albuquerque Journal calculates that a brewery currently selling 4,000 barrels would see taxes increase prohibitively from $9,920 to $341,000. Local breweries were understandably peeved by the proposal, with La Cumbre Brewing Co. founder and president, Jeffrey S. Erway, calling it, “exorbitant” and “neo-prohibitionist,” in an op-ed.
Similarly in Michigan, a proposed excise hike looks to up the current tax from $6.30 to $21.70 per barrel in an attempt to increase funding for alcohol treatment and rehabilitation services. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce has labeled the proposal, “a bad idea from a lame duck lawmaker;” the lame duck lawmaker in this case being third-term State Rep. Tom Hooker. If passed, consumers could face the prospect of paying $2 more per six-pack. But, don’t start relocating yet, Michigan craft beer fans. The legislation currently has zero co-signers and it’s doubtful that it would come before the House of Regulatory Reform Committee before year’s end.
Seeing less pumpkin beers on the shelves this year? It’s a sign of changing tastes and blowback from an oversaturated market. Forbes reports that normally pumpkin-friendly purveyors like Harpoon Brewery, Southern Tier Brewing and Shipyard Brewing brewed fewer barrels this year and Samuel Adams – whose pumpkin beer typically hits the shelves around the Fourth of July – rolled out only one pumpkin offering this year. The consumer trend, according to Brewers Association economist, Bart Watson, is toward other fall-friendly brews such as specialty releases and stouts. For fans of jack-o-lantern infused beers that don’t mind drinking them out of season, this means deep discounts on previously sought after selections as winter progresses.
Successful Rwandan restaurateur, Josephine Uwineza, is hoping to open the first woman-owned craft brewery in her homeland with the help of Ontario’s Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. Beau’s will, “be providing financing, expertise, and hands-on employee training to the start-up brewery,” according to a Kickstarter project this week and British Columbia-based Newlands Systems Inc. has pledged an entire brewhouse to the endeavor. Next up, the Rwanda Craft Brewery Project is looking to raise $95,000 for a bottling line.