| The Presidential Election and Craft Beer
By Glenn DeLuca
It typically happens once every eight years when a two term president will finish his
term out and both parties go through a primary process to select their candidate. We’
re all lucky (?!?) enough to have one of those now and it’s definitely been one of the
more interesting ones, especially with the myriad of debates. I’ve watched a couple of
the Democratic ones, which are more substance and less theatre, and quite a few of
the Republican ones, as that’s been the best reality TV we’ve had this year (luckily
for Survivor, The Bachelor, Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, et al they can
continue next year w/o all the political interference.)
I guess it’s to be expected that the different TV networks each get to do at least one
debate with their own moderators, which means they come up with the questions,
many of which are not that good. Maybe it’s because no matter what question you
ask the candidates virtually always go into their own script about themselves and not
really answer the question. Or maybe it’s because they really don’t want a debate
but rather political theatre for ratings, so they ask inciting questions. Way too typical
is the question; Candidate C, last week Candidate B called you a potty mouth, what
did you think of that? To which the typical response is something like, I refuse to play
in the mud with Candidate B, but I resent the inference and only last week a major
newspaper said I was merely a talking head, which is a more representative part of
As it continues I’m sitting here wondering how our leaders in the political party of
Craft Beer, The Brewers Association are viewing this. I’m betting they wish they had a
network so they could ask some serious questions about craft beer. How many
candidates who talk about small business as the driver of our economy mention craft
beer? Don’t we now have well over 4,000 craft breweries, more than the historic high
of 4,131 in 1873? In 2015 there were more than 2/day opening! Fifteen states have
>100 breweries! Do they know that 75% of 21+ adults now live within 10 miles of a
craft brewery, which of course means it’s not a regional boom, but is more evenly
distributed around the country.
Dollar sales in 2015 were >$2.9B; that’s Billion with a B! But really that’s
shortchanging us seriously on the impact. First of all we need space to brew and
have a tasting room, so we’re paying rent. Then we need to build the interior, so we’
re either paying someone or buying the materials and doing it ourselves. Then we
need brewing equipment, refrigeration, maybe some tables, chairs and/or barstools,
tasting glasses or at least plastic cups, paraphernalia with our logo on (glasses, t-
shirts, coasters, etc.), tap handles, those beautiful empty brown 12 oz. bottles (this is
the USofA, no 11.2 oz. here!) and miscellaneous other stuff. Sure a bunch of it is
made overseas and imported but somebody here is making money on it. And we may
well have hired a contractor, plumber or electrician for some of the work. Most
operations are small but they have to make enough money to pay themselves, so
there are jobs.
Then there’s the ripple effect locally on bars, restaurants and food trucks, especially
when the brewery opens in a transitioning neighborhood; more foot traffic is usually
better for business in general. And what about local produce; many craft brewers
embrace the idea of utilizing as much local produce as many restaurants have. And
yes more farmers are starting to grow hops, as we love our IPAs! And what about the
tourism aspect which has started to increase dramatically. Programs in ME, VT and
NH are doing well; cities are doing beer weeks and festivals, Cleveland is adding
another bus to its brewery tour, the Cincinnati Rhine Brewing Heritage Trail is a large
project to help revitalize that city’s historic brewing district. And on and on it goes,
similar to what happened in wine country in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino. If you
brew it they will come.
BA statistics show a $55.7 billion contribution to our economy in 2014. Can’t wait till
they have the 2015 numbers!
So they gathered to put together some questions that might get the candidates and
the general public thinking more our impact and how good we are for the economy
and country. It wasn’t difficult, but who would be our moderator? They happen to
have a young man on staff with a good speaking voice who was willing to do it;
interestingly enough his name is Michael Jackson.
Here’s how we think it went on the Democratic side:
MJ: Secretary Clinton, could you explain why you are only proposing a Medicare
increase of a 4 pack/week when Senator Sanders is proposing a 6 pack?
HC: With all due respect to the Senator, how much beer could a senior drink if a
senior could drink beer? (Big smile from HC and groans from the audience). You
should note that my 4 pack is our own good old USA craft beer, while the Senator’s 6
pack “may” be craft beer, but could be swill, like Corona. Many of our seniors are on
medication, so they should be careful with the amount and timing. My proposal sets
up a new department that would assist seniors in choosing which craft beer and when
to drink it.
MJ: Exactly what we need, another department. Secretary Clinton, your adopted
home state of NY has 181 craft breweries ranking 5th overall, but 28th on a per
capita basis (/100,000 21+ adults) and three of them (actually 3.5 as you share one
with MO) are in the top 50. There are many in Hudson Valley area, have you ever
HC: I’m out campaigning much of the day, so I have enough trouble standing at the
end of the day, which is why I visit a lot of coffee and bakery shops as opposed to
MJ: Senator Sanders, Vermont has 40 craft breweries, which ranks first on a per
capita basis with one ranking #30 in the top craft brewers. On the economic side
there is an almost $600 per capita impact which ranks third. How has Vermont done
BS: Well Michael I’m 74, so I’m not helping the cause a lot. But we do have a long
cold winter and unless you’re on the ski slope or tapping maple trees where better to
be than inside a brewery or a bar.
MJ: There are a few high end/boutique breweries that are in such high demand that
when they release product it creates hours long lines of people standing outside
waiting for their beer.
BS: What long lines…that’s unacceptable. Nobody should have to wait in line, this is
America, everyone should be able to get whatever they want whenever they want…
I’m going to have to introduce some legislation if and when I get back to Washington.
MJ: Well Senator these people are choosing to wait on line because they like the
beer, so I’m not sure that’s high on the national security platform.
MJ: In closing I’d like to thank the candidates for their inspiring lack of knowledge as
it comes to the craft beer industry in our country and we hope they’ll do better next
And now to our Republican debate:
MJ: Mr. Trump, your campaign slogan, Make America Great Again, isn’t exactly
accurate as America is making some not only great but excellent beer right now.
DT: Well Michael that was a very nasty question. Let me just say that I don’t drink a
lot of beer, I prefer champagne. And let me tell you why; it’s all about effervescence.
Basically champagne is much better at helping me keep this mop on the top of my
head, so if the brewers could get a little more of the bubbly in it I would certainly be
inclined to have a few more.
MJ: Actually Mr. Trump we did, it was called Champale, and it was quite a while ago
and really not very good. On another topic, the wall you’re building on our southern
border, will it also work to keep out Mexican swill, specifically Corona?
DT: Absolutely, it’s a wall nothing gets through a wall build by The Donald. And
Mexico is paying for the wall and since Corona is Mexican they’re going to help pay.
Michael, that’s a great suggestion, I can probably build the wall a little higher with
their donation. (Note to self, when I get home throw out Corona in fridge and
remember to send them a bill for the wall).
MJ: Senator Cruz, we understand you’re not a big beer drinker, at least not
anymore, but Texas has 117 breweries which is 0.6 per capita, ranking only 44th.
TC: Well that’s a result of the crushing Obama economy. As President I will lift the
Washington burdens and allow our small businesses to flourish. Yes it is true I do
prefer Scotch and I have been honest with the American people; I did say in an
earlier debate if you want to have a beer with a candidate I may not be your guy.
And to quote Proverbs 31:4-8 “Kings should not drink wine, Lemuel, and rulers
should not desire beer. If they drink, they might forget the law and keep the needy
from getting their rights.”
MJ: So Senator if elected President does mean you won’t drink?
TC: Well Proverbs says you should not drink beer, but it doesn’t say anything about
MJ: Thanks for that clarification. Senator Rubio, we were wondering why you haven’t
commented/congratulated Cigar City on their recent win in the prestigious Draught
Board 15 IPA March Madness at the Gaslight? As one of last year’s Final Four, Jai
Alai returned to avenge their loss in last year’s finals to Clown Shoes Galactica.
MR: Well to be honest I hadn’t heard; I’ve been so focused on FL that none of the
other states matter.
MJ: Senator did you know as of last count, Florida has 111 craft breweries, none of
which are in the top 50 and ranks 43rd on a per capita basis?
MR: Well with all the senior citizens in FL we can’t guzzle as much as other states so
that’s impeded our progress, but Obamacare and Hillary Clinton is what’s really been
hurting our growth.
MJ: Well thank you for those amazing insights; let’s move on. Governor Kasich, you’
ve been telling us how well Ohio has been doing with you in charge and we note
there are 110 breweries which is 1.3 per capita ranking you only 25th.
JK: That’s right but we’re doing better than before. I streamlined the process for our
Ohio breweries to make it easier for them to sell on premise. And let me tell you when
I was in Congress on the House Budget Committee I told everyone that the craft beer
industry would be the economic impetus we needed to balance the budget. I worked
with Jack McAuliffe to start New Albion, recognized as the first post prohibition
microbrewery in the US, in the 80’s. In fact when I was the Chairman we brought in
craft beer and dispensed with those little bottles of water. That’s why I’ve very proud
to say that New Albion has been re-introduced and is now brewed in the great city of
Cleveland, which is a great beer town.
MJ: Well thank you for that history lesson Governor; sounds like you may be the
father of craft beer similar to Al Gore creating the internet. Let’s move on. Dr. Carson
being an accomplished neurosurgeon have you ever had a beer?
BC: A question did you really ask me a question, I’m so happy to get a question, what
was the question, I’m really not asleep up here it’s just that no one asks me any
questions or mentions me…I feel like the Rodney Dangerfield candidate, you know, I
don’t get no respect.
MJ: Ok no need for a follow-up there. Again we’d like to thank all the candidates for
their lack of insight on craft beer and really hope they bone up before the November
Wow that was quite a debate, it went about the same as all the others since none of
them answer the question you ask, but we must have enlightened a few of them as
well as our audience about craft beer in the good old USA.
As the executive committee, along with MJ, is doing their review, one suggests they
associate a craft brewery and/or beer with each candidate. A splendid final task;
choosing one that really fits them, shows their persona, tells the story. With >4,000
breweries there must be multiple ones that would fit each so this will be no easy task.
They crack open some inspiration and begin to ferment through the possibilities. Lo
and behold, after hours of “spirited” discussion and much inspiration later they’re
done. So here it is:
Secretary Clinton – well she’s been an adopted New Yorker for many years so a NY
brewer, one actually fairly close fits the bill – Defiant Brewing.
Senator Sanders –being from the green mountain state with some excellent
breweries it must be The Alchemist, as rumor has it the drawing on the Heady Topper
can was loosely based on a younger Bernie.
The Donald – yes he is also a New Yorker, but we had to travel all the way to the
West Coast and chose Stone Brewing and one of their most popular beers; Arrogant
Senator Cruz – not sure if there are any fundamentalist breweries, which would be a
perfect fit, but he is from Texas so Gambrinus Brewing and their Shiner beers,
especially their Extra Pale Ale, Haymaker.
Governor Kasich –well since he’s the self-proclaimed father of our post prohibition
microbrew industry and it’s now brewed in Ohio, New Albion Brewing it is.
Senator Rubio – although he’s from the eastern coast we’ll still have to go with the
bay area Cigar City and a choice of their Florida Man or Cubano Espresso.
Dr. Carson –being a Michigan native would have to be Dark Horse Brewing.
And lest we forget the others; Bush, Fiorina, Graham, Huckabee, Jindal, O’Malley,
Pataki, Paul, Perry, Santorum and Walker…well let’s just go with Departed Soles
You are noting I did leave someone out, our low esteemed Governor of NJ, the big
guy himself, C squared, Chris Christie. We must do him the honor of a NJ brewery.
Climax, well he has but that’s not quite the one; Flying Fish, we’d need a cannon to
get him to fly; Demented, now there’s one that just about hits the spot; actually there’
s another that’s perfect; Village Idiot! As former Governor Kean would say, perfect
together; he is the biggest Idiot in our Village.
Of course you can’t please everyone. After releasing our associations Senator Cruz
said we missed the boat err beer on The Donald and should have picked Great
Lakes Brewery Devil’s Pale Ale 666.
So we may have to wait another eight years for this to happen again. But by then
there will be more media and I’m willing to bet there will be some type of craft beer
network or media outlet. And yes we should sponsor a debate and get some of our
P.S. for probably a six pack a week (and yes I’m talking top notch quality craft brew) I’
m definitely willing to work for one of the candidates on their “Craft Beer Platform”
…could be worth some votes…
Glenn DeLuca writes about beer and culture of drinking. He may
be reached by writing thebigG@beernexus.com.
*** *** ***
|Big G's Beer Beat
by Glenn DeLuca
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|The Brewers Association