These people are beer snobs. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
They sip raspberry stouts, Belgian brews and German bocks. They crave intricate, flavorful creations. And some want a little more bang for their buck when it comes to their beer’s alcohol content. The Beer Guy has written about them, and I’m here to see what they’re up to.
I hung out with more than 100 of these Epicureans tonight at the Bier Garden in downtown Ashvegas. All the local players were there, including Asheville Pizza & Brewing, the French Broad and Jack of the Wood/Greenman breweries, as well as Highland Brewing. A couple of out-of-town beermakers were present, too.
They came together in support of Pop the Cap, a nonprofit activist organization seeking a 6 percent solution. More directly, an end to the old North Carolina law that limits beer to 6 percent alcohol by volume.
It’s been on the books for nearly a century. North Carolina is one of five states in the U.S. with the cap. In the South, Tennesee, Georgia and Virgina are non-cap states. Georgia just changed its law.
The folks at tonight’s fest say it’s high time the law was changed. The state loses out on thousands upon thousands of tax money spent on beer bought out of state, and it limits homebrewers and breweries from offering up new and exotic tastes.
Sean Wilson, Pop the Cap’s principal, has been preaching his 6 percent solution across the state, from Wilmington to Chapel Hill, where he’s based, to the mountains. He’s hired a high-powered lobbyist, Theresa Kostrzewa, to work the General Assembly this year. Kostrzewa works for a unit created by the Sanford Holshouser Law Firm, led by former Democratic Gov. Terry Sanford and former GOP Gov. Jim Holshouser. Kostrzewa was an aid to state House Majority Leader Leo Daughtry.
Wilson has a long row to hoe, although he claims that the state’s powerful wholesalers association is staying on the sidelines. Seems like all state lawmakers want to talk about is raising taxes on alcohol, not raising the alcohol content.
As the Beer Guy points out, “It will not be easy, not in a state where lawmakers are too afraid of backlash to even let voters decide for themselves if they want a lottery. And there will be a fight, from those against any alcohol sales, from those who think it will lead to drunken-driving arrests or alcoholism.”
But the people sure are passionate for their brew.