It’s a pet peeve of mine, the three tier system. Yes. It. Is.

1795492_10202617807342494_796140806_nIt’s not that I don’t believe that it shouldn’t exist, but in too many states, it is all encompassing, and in too many instances, it provides distributors with an undue amount of power. I certainly believe that the three tier system can be useful, but it is also certainly not the end-all, be-all of beer or wine access in the country.

Here’s the deal…

New laws governing the direct shipping of wine have opened up the ability for breweries to direct ship to Maryland. While the laws don’t necessarily provide for direct shipping beer, they also don’t restrict it either.

Getting the direct shipping law passed took a lot of time and energy, and it faced a lot of push-back from lobbyists on the side of the distributors.

The rallying cry of the politicians who have opposed direct shipping has been the scare-tactic inducing, “it will allow easier for minors to alcohol.” Of course this has not proven to be true in any of the roughly three dozen states that allow some form of direct shipping.

All that the distributors see is something that potentially cuts into their profits. It’s shortsighted.

It seems to me that direct shipping is a good way for a new brewery to get their toes wet in a new market. And here’s the thing; if that brewer isn’t selling in the state, the distributor isn’t making money off of the beer anyway. However, if that brewery can direct ship and begin to build a following in the state, there is a point where direct shipping is no longer practical for the brewery, and the brewery will need to start working with an in-state distributor to supply the growing market.

Me? I see the ability to direct ship to an individual in Maryland by the out of state breweries as a win for everyone, including the distributors. I don’t have an issue with the concept of the three tier system – merely in how it tends to get applied.

Another place where the absolutism of the three tier system is an issue? The smallest breweries in the state and with brewpubs. These are additional businesses that could grow more rapidly, expanding their customer-base were they allowed to direct distribute their beers to other local restaurants and stores.

Other Random Thoughts

Rule 4 for Zombieland also applies to craft beer drinkers…double tap (at the very least). Zombeerland?

I can’t be the only one that thinks it’s weird that you can buy beer and wine at a mini-mart, but not at a supermarket?

Given current events, I have been pondering whether or not there should be an Ale-ympics – a world-wide craft beer competition that occurs every four years. Then again, there is already GABF.

Most of the area knows you can get a great selection of craft beer at The Roasthouse, JoJo’s, Madrones, and a few other places. I sometimes forget that there’s also a pretty broad selection of bottles at aka Frisco’s. At any given time there’s a selection of between 70 and 100 bottles of craft beer, and four beers on tap. Lots of local stuff in that group too.

The five non-Maryland brewers that I’d like to hang with for an evening: Garrett Oliver (Brooklyn), Greg Koch (Stone), Megan Parisi (Cambridge, Blue Jacket), Hildegard Van Ostaden (Urthel), and Mikkel Borg Bjergsø (Mikkeller). There are others I would love to hang with (the Brew Dogs dudes come to mind), I didn’t want to write a couple of hundred names. And this is a group that I would love to chat beer with at some point.

Tapped and Uncapped

Today’s recommendation was the subject of last night’s release at Flying Dog. Run on down to the brewery and get your growler Photo (2)filled with some of the Mango Habenero IPA, the latest entrant into Flying Dog’s Brewhouse Rarities series. I’m generally not one for the beers infused with peppers, but this one has a nice balance between the inherent hoppiness of the IPA, and the slight burn on the edges of the tongue and in the back of the throat from the habenero.  There are also some very nice underlying and subtle fresh vegetal notes from the peppers that interlace with an slight sweetness, likely from the mango.

I suspect that it’s not going to be a beer that everyone will enjoy, but for those of you who enjoy a spicy beer, this is sure to please your palate.

Until next week, be well and drink good beer.