Somebody ought to pass a law…

A very specific law. H.R. 4278, to be precise. The Brewer’s Association has made the lowering of the Federal Excise Tax on the first 60,000 barrels of beer the centerpiece of its lobbying. If I’m reading the bill right, it’s dropping the rate from $16.00 to $3.50 per barrel. Think small brewers can find something to do with that $12.50 a barrel? (See the update below to get the facts straight).

I wrote Representative Geoff Davis this morning urging him to become a co-sponsor of the bill. It was rousing and poetic, analytical and incisive. It appealed to the best of our history and our basic goodness as human beings. I was going to post it here to inspire and awe you, our loyal readers, but I was overcome with emotion (or a case of teh stupids) and hit “send” on the web-form before remembering to copy-and-paste my deathless prose somewhere else.


So what you really need to do right now is write your congressperson. It’s easy. Go to the House of Representatives website and find your Representative’s website so you can contact him or her. There are “talking points” on the Brewer’s Association site, but it’s really better to write stuff in your own words than it is to use boilerplate copy. One thing to consider is that the economic impact of this bill will be positive whether you drink beer or not. Brewing is manufacturing, and breweries purchase the same sorts of goods and services as other small manufacturers.

We only do politics here at Hoperatives if it involves beer. I personally think this bill could really help our area by lowering the barriers to entry for new small brewers and giving our current small breweries a much-needed shot in the arm. If you agree (or have other reasons you think this is a good idea), please consider taking a few minutes to let your Member of Congress know it.

UPDATE: Andy from the Brewer’s Association clarified in a comment what the bill actually does (thanks Andy!):

There are actually two tiers in the tax relief, currrently the small brewers excise tax is $7 (up to a brewers first 60K bbls). The bill hopes to reduce that number to $3.50 while anything over that would be reduced from $18 to $16. Hopefully this clarifies, if you follow up with the congressman.

And I will be following up with Rep. Davis. Please join me if you live in his district, or contact your local Representative’s office. It just takes a minute!

It’s a Small World, but I’d Hate to Paint It

This past weekend Carla and I were in Chattanooga, TN for the 15th Annual Southern Brewer’s Festival. We’ve reposted our review of last year’s event below. That review first appeared on My Wine Education and writing it was the event that crystallized a lot of things for us and led directly to the start of this blog a few months later1. That festival and the town that hosts it are special to us, and always will be for lots of reasons.

This year’s event was as good as the last. We’re going to write it up (really!) and even have pictures and video, but it’s going to take a few days. That’s just the way we roll. I’ve switched day jobs and it’s been a bit crazed on occasion. Normal stuff. Carla’s been doing the heavy lifting on keeping our regular features up to date, and for that I owe her a beer or two.

For example, while we were out there on a pier over the Tennessee River having a wonderful time, there was another great beer event taking place here on the banks the Ohio: Brew Ha Ha. Once again the time-space continuum conspired against us. Last month we missed the Cincy Beerfest because we were at a … well … blogging conference. Oh, the irony. While we talked about both events before they happened, nothing has appeared here about how they went.

Doing this blog is really a lot of fun. We’ve met wonderful people and have had a chance to do some really fun things. We’ve found that there’s a great community out there, a community of people united in a love of beer. The beers differ widely, and, like in any collection of humans there are disagreements, but in the end it’s about the beer. It’s not curing cancer or bringing peace to the planet, but it passes the time well until we can get around to those2.

On Tuesday we’ll be having our third — and now I think we should just say “monthly” — Hoperatives Happening at Dilly Cafe in Mariemont3. Yeah, you need a Hoperatives number and you need to RSVP if you want to come, but it’s free to attend (you buy your own beer). As long as the weather holds — and it’s looking good so far — we’ll be out on the patio. It should be amazing. Nearly everyone who’s written for Hoperatives should be there. That will be cool. What’s also cool is that people who are going to be writing for Hoperatives will also be there.

Like you, for instance.

(Huh? I know your name’s not Willis, but what the heck are you talking about?)

You see, the subtitle of this blog is “Believers in Better Beer (in Cincinnati and Beyond),” not “Things About Beer (Carla and Tom (and Jared and John) Feel Like Writing About).” Sure, that subtitle has twice the parentheses, but I don’t see it as an improvement in any other way. (You may have noticed that I like parentheses)4.

If you go over to the “About Hoperatives” page you’ll find this definition of “better beer” and why this blog exists:

What’s better beer? It’s not just the beer you like, it’s the beer you love. It’s the beer you’ll search for far and wide, the one you’ll drive long distances to sample and buy, the one you’ll hoard for yourself or grudgingly share, but only with friends who get it.

That’s what this site is about. It’s about the beer, the places that make the beer, the places that sell the beer, and the places that serve the beer. Most importantly, it’s about the people. The people who make the beer, and the people who love the beer.

Chances are, you fit into one of those categories. That means you probably have something to say, and we’d like you to say it here. Here’s our editorial policy, such as it is:

  1. Spell all the words right.
  2. Use good grammar and punctuation.
  3. Be explicit about your biases. It’s OK to have them, just let your readers know what they are.
  4. You can’t take anything in exchange for writing a post — ever.
  5. You own your words and images. If you publish them here, we can use them as you submitted them, but you always have the right to use what you created as you see fit and without asking.
  6. If you have another blog and want to cross-post something, that’s fine.
  7. You’re welcome to your tastes, but you’re not welcome to tell someone else that his or her tastes are somehow wrong.
  8. We review beers. We don’t review restaurants or bars. It’s OK to talk about them as they relate to a beer experience, but we don’t rate them.
  9. We never charge for listing a location in our informational pages, but we only list those that we’ve visited personally or that a person with a Hoperative number has recommended.
  10. Since we pay the bills for this site, Carla and Tom’s editorial decisions are final.
  11. We only accept submissions from registered Hoperatives.
  12. Only people can be Hoperatives, not companies or organizations.
  13. If you work for a brewery, distributor, beer location, or anything else beer-related, we want your information! Please understand that all press releases will be marked as such.

“But I don’t have anything to write about,” you say, “I can’t do this!” Well, maybe you can’t. Who am I to doubt your self-doubt? Chances are, though, you can, and the blog will be a better place if you do. You just need a little beer and a little inspiration. It’s probably not legal for me to give you the beer, but I can give you the inspiration. Here are three things you can write about, just to try things out:

  1. Is there an establishment you enjoy going to for beer? What is it? Where is it? Why do you like it? What beers do they have? On tap? Bottles? This can turn into a post and an informational page. A win-win!
  2. So you walk into a Kroger or any other standard grocery store. Not a specialty retailer or a place you’re especially familiar with. What do you look for? This question actually came from Hoperative #135 Don Rigney at a beer dinner at Teller’s and led to a very fun discussion. Thanks Don!
  3. What’s one of your favorite beer pairings? Start with this sentence and run with it: “One of my favorite things is [insert beer name or style here] with [insert whatever you have with the beer].” Why do you think it works? Where did you first encounter it? Is it something you like all the time, or is it something you like every once in a while?

Needless to say, there are lots of other things you can write about. Still nervous? Dip your toe into the water by commenting on things other people write! But when you’re ready, send us what you have to say.

1 Thanks again, Michelle!
2 And then we can have a beer. See? It all works out.
3 Not that there’s a Dilly Cafe anywhere we’d meet that’s not Mariemont.
4 Not to mention footnotes.

So What is ‘Better Beer’ Anyway?

Every once in a while I like to take an idea and beat the hell out of it think about it for a while.  It’s either the fact that I have a bit of a philosophical bent, or that I’m just bent.

Take your pick.

Anyway, I have to be honest and say that the motto of this blog makes me a little nervous. It seems like an invitation to mindless snobbery.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t have anything against snobbery.  I just don’t like it when it’s mindless.

Continue reading “So What is ‘Better Beer’ Anyway?”

A Brand New Bouncing Baby Blog

Welcome to Hoperatives, a place for believers in better beer.

What’s better beer?  It’s not just the beer you like, it’s the beer you love.  It’s the beer you’ll search for far and wide, the one you’ll drive long distances to sample and buy, the one you’ll  hoard for yourself or grudgingly share, but only with friends who get it.

That’s what this site is about.  It’s about the beer, the places that make the beer, the places that sell the beer, and the places that serve the beer.  Most importantly, it’s about the people.  The people who make the beer, and the people who love the beer.

This blog is centered on Cincinnati, Ohio, one of the world’s great beer towns. We’ll focus on the people, places, and events that make it great.  We’ll also look at happenings in the region, which we’re defining as anything within a five-hour driving range.  That takes us from the shores of Lake Erie to the north to the Tennessee River to the south, from somewhere in the middle of Illinois to the west, to somewhere in West Virginia to the east.

Hey, it’s about beer, not geography.

Finally, because the proprietors of this establishment like to take their love of beer on the road, we’ll venture beyond regional and national borders and report back on what we find.

There’s a reason a good beer bar is noisy.  It’s because people are talking.  That’s what this place is about.  It’s a place for believers in better beer to congregate and have a conversation.

It’s going to be fun.

Happy New Year!