Posts Tagged ‘media buzz’
What is it about beer that encourages people to say things — they would never want to say on cheese or ketchup labels? In the latest skirmish, an Oklahoma brewer came out with Nobama Beer during the past few weeks.
It appears that TTB was not too fond of this brand name, at least at first. But then Huebert Brewing Company, their lawyer, and the local NBC affiliate went on the offensive, to push the label through, as shown in this video. I must admit, I did not expect to see a TV news story about the finer points of TTB Form 5100.31, Exemptions from Label Approval, or TTB’s renowned beer label reviewer (the one person that has reviewed and approved the label for just about every beer currently available in the US). The first video shows that TTB at first allowed the beer only within Oklahoma, but the above approval, and this later video, shows that TTB shortly thereafter felt compelled to allow it more widely.
We are starting to get a lot of questions about TTB’s future. Over the years I have marveled and wondered if Bill Clinton or George W. Bush spent much time pondering the fate of ATF or TTB (and, for example, the intricacies of the label approval process). Well, the Obama Administration clearly thinks about it a lot. Late last year, Wine & Spirits Daily wrote:
Obama’s Office of Management & Budget (OMB) is considering “the impact of folding TTB’s tax enforcement and collection functions into IRS, to be proposed in the Budget and implemented in FY 2013,” reports Kane’s Beverage News Daily. The TTB has until Dec 28 to submit a proposal to the OMB “analyzing the feasibility and appropriateness of this proposal, including a discussion of how the missions and goals of these two agencies could be combined.” Furthermore, TTB is to review whether its “regulatory and health-safety functions” can be transferred to the IRS or even the FDA.
Since then, there has been almost nothing in the press about this important story. As recently as today, Google News has not much of any consequence on this issue. I don’t see much on TTB’s website or newsletters. A few days ago, however, The Gray Report set forth some new information on this topic, and it provoked a lively discussion in the comments. W. Blake Gray wrote:
The politics of this potential elimination of the TTB are fascinating, and ultimately why I don’t think it will happen even if Obama wants it. … In this climate where government austerity is seen by many as a good thing, Obama could gain some chips by trying to eliminate a federal agency. … However, the Republicans in the House seem dead-set on preventing him from achieving anything at all, and that will only intensify leading up to November. I think they’ll reflexively oppose it. … But what a conflict it poses philosophically for Republicans. Deregulation is a party tenet — but how would social conservatives react to restrictions being taken off of Demon Rum?
The 2013 Federal Budget is set to be released in a week. According to The Washington Post, “The budget is traditionally released on the first Monday in February — which is Feb. 6 — but the administration has pushed the release to Feb. 13.” Last month, Wine & Spirits Daily wrote:
The TTB has since submitted a plan analyzing the proposal to the Office of Management & Budget, but nothing is public or final at this point. … There are two current speculations as to how the reorganization would go down. One, the organization and all of its functions would be taken in one lump sum and deposited into a corner of the IRS. Two, the TTB’s tax enforcement and collection function could go to the IRS, while its regulatory and health-safety functions could go to the FDA. This is the most extreme scenario. One thing that almost everyone agreed one, however, is that an united alcohol beverage industry has enough power to squash any such proposal if it indeed made its way to Congress.
At least with the TTB the industry is the priority. With the FDA you’re with 25 or 30 other industries.” Even more problematic is that the FDA may have some anti-alcohol types, whereas the TTB is a neutral force.
One of the biggest complaints last year was the TTB’s slow response time when it came to approving labels – a result of less funding by Obama and inevitable lay-offs. As a remedy, the TTB proposed shifting its duties more towards enforcement rather than label pre-approvals, but the industry fought it. Instead, it seems the industry would rather the TTB speed up the COLA process than do away with it.
[I]t doesn’t seem likely that disbanding the TTB would save much money because theoretically it would require the same amount of people to complete the same functions now performed by the TTB, which “is pretty bare bones as it is.” Furthermore, the “TTB is one of the few revenue generating agencies in the federal government. They make a lot of money. It would be hard to split it up effectively.”
Three years ago, as part of the 2010 Budget, the Obama Administration flirted with the idea of imposing user fees for various TTB activities, and not much came of it. In our opinion, to the extent this is some kind of business school-type exercise, or thought experiment (as in, show cause why there should not be a shakeup), it could be useful. But, if any reorganization would take several hundred people from one entity and replace them with a similar number at one or more other entities, it is hard to imagine that the costs would not outweigh the benefits.
Last week The New York Times had a good article entitled “With Rude Names, Wine Stops Minding Its Manners.” The article focused on the wide variety of Bitch-themed wines in the US marketplace. The article describes Royal Bitch as:
one of a teeming sisterhood of cabernets and chardonnays from a variety of producers with labels like Sassy Bitch, Jealous Bitch, Tasty Bitch and Sweet Bitch. They’re reinforcements for a growing army of rude, budget-priced wines that have shoved their way into wine stores and supermarkets in the past few years — most recently Happy Bitch, a Hudson Valley rosé that made its debut last month.
The article closes by saying:
Winemakers have some way to go before equaling the shock value of Jersey’s Toxic Waste, a specialty spirit. But the bitch category may yield dividends. Take Rae-Jean Beach, a blended white wine. (The name needs to be said aloud.) She’s got a husband, a zinfandel. Sorry, but the name is not printable here.
Though Mrs. Pedasso’s husband may be too “rude” for publication within the august confines of The New York Times Dining Section, it is my pleasure to bring back Mr. Stu Pedasso and his lovely wife, Rae-Jean Beach.
I was driving along and heard perhaps the perfect confluence of beer, TTB, fruit, and a multimedia extravaganza (plus history, my sister in law, etc.).
NPR ran a story about The Pawpaw: Foraging For America’s Forgotten Fruit on September 29, 2011. The pawpaw is a creamy, mango-like fruit that grows along the banks of the Potomac River. Experts say the pawpaw is “every bit the rival of a perfect peach or apple. And these fruits have had thousands of years of breeding to make them taste good.” So good that a pawpaw newbie exclaims (at about 3:50): “Mmm, very good. Wonderful flavor. On my tongue, it says this is something new and wonderful and that I should continue it.”
It did not take long for a beer company to grab onto the pawpaw fervor. In discussing how the fruit plays into locavore trends and does not travel well, NPR’s Allison Aubrey talks with Garin Wright of Buckeye Brewing (at about 6:10):
AUBREY: But at a pawpaw festival earlier this month in Ohio, people were showing off, at least one way of extending the pawpaw season. They make pulp from the fruit that can be canned and frozen. And even use it to make beer. Garin Wright of the Buckeye Brewing Company in Cleveland wasn’t convinced the taste of the pawpaw would come through in his brew, but it did.
GARIN WRIGHT: I really think that I got freshness out of that pulp that you can really smell and taste in the beer I made, so it’s awesome.
Garin’s label is here. I say extravaganza because the blog post is here, the audio is here, the video is here, 163 comments are here, recipes are here, the transcript is here, and so on. I say sister in law because my kids started calling Aunt Paula “pawpaw” from their earliest months. I say TTB because NPR’s street interviews (on the video) are 100 feet from the old TTB building (across the street from the current NPR building). Finally, I say history because Lewis & Clark, and Thomas Jefferson, were apparently big pawpaw fans according to NPR.
The 9/11 Memorial wine is made by Lieb Cellars, LLC of Mattituck, New York. In a rare show of unity, it did not go over well with Anthony Bourdain, Dr. Vino, The Colbert Report, or The Christian Post.