CT Beer Trail

Proposed Tax Raises Make CT Beer-Drinkers 'Hopping' Mad

Last beer I drank: Shipyard Chamberlin Pale Ale.



            This weekend I went out and bought a 12 pack sampler of Shipyard beers ( a Maine brewery). Out of the stout, IPA, pale ale, and American-style ale, the Chamberlin Pale was my favorite of the bunch. It pours a medium body with an alluring deep amber/gold hue and a modest inch-high head. The initial aroma is a deep hoppy scent with a hint of spice. After sipping it, the taste buds are met with an even taste that lasts through the pull and finishes gradually with a lingering hop aroma. The dominant taste is a sharp hop mixed with mild spice that finishes slowly. Each sip reignites the taste without overwhelming the senses with too much sharpness or dryness. Overall I really liked the depth of the hops in this beer that otherwise has a fairly unsurprising taste. It's a ale that perfectly treads the line between "light" and "heavy."

            Last week I talked about gateway beer, and related it to some of my favorite Canadian brews. Now down here in America, we have the luxury of being able to shop around our package stores; when I went to buy the above-mentioned beer I checked out 2 or 3 of my haunts before finding a reasonably-priced 12-pack of craft that I could afford this week. Up in the Great White North that option is removed. As all of the package stores (or Beer Stores) are federally funded you can more or less look forward to (for better or worse) the same modest selection and high taxes wherever you choose to purchase beer.


A larger Beer Store in Canada: select the beer you want and the case comes rolling out on the conveyor belt. Cool.

(Courtesy: Flickr)


            In Canada there are a few different taxes that take a bite of your beer money: global sales tax; beverage taxes; and maybe even more that I've forgotten about (I believe there is some sort of 'green tax' that is tacked on to the returnables). When all is said and done the beer that is purchased up there quickly becomes well more than you had anticipated. So why aren't Canadians (who love their beer as much as we do down here) rattling their hockey sticks in protest? Well maybe because they get socialized medicine, school aid, and other government incentives that soften the blow of heavier taxation.

            Why am I mentioning Canada again? Well because if you live in Connecticut you may soon be able to look forward to paying Canadian-style taxes without any of the benefits they enjoy up there! That's right, there is currently a proposed bill floating around that would increase alcohol taxation by 20%. Read all about it at the following post at CTBeertrail.net: http://ctbeertrail.net/group/localbeerandpolitics/forum/topics/20-t... ; or on the Middletown Press: http://www.middletownpress.com/articles/2011/04/24/news/doc4db2edc5....



In keeping with animal metaphors, here is an angry armadillo that symbolizes the reaction I felt upon hearing the proposed tax increase.

(Courtesy: Flickr)


                Now I'm not one to get into politics. Really.  Democrat, Republican, Independent, whatever politicos blather on about it's the actions, in the end, which matter the most: not blustering; posturing; and carefully edited press-releases. What I do "get into" is beer, and this proposal would have a significant impact on my (and your) beer consumption. It doesn't matter if you drink macro, or micro, if you just like having a brew when you go out to eat, or if you just buy your friends a beer on a special occasion; a 20% hike will cause all of us to think twice before putting down hard-earned money on our much-loved beer.


 Money. And yes I had to photo search this as I didn't have a wad just lying around.

(Courtesy Flickr)


            Consider this. Your friends are coming over and your house is dry. So you drive down to your favorite packy. Now (depending on who you are) you buy either a 30-rack of "economy" beer, or two nice 6-packs. Either way you end up with a $20.00 bill. You get to the register, pay the $21.20, and hit the road. That would be now, with 6% sales tax. If the bill passes, you'll be face to face with a $25.20 dollar charge for your chosen beverage. No big deal you say? The $4.00 extra you spend just on taxes per $20.00 purchase could get you another two 6-packs (or, I suppose, a 30-rack) if you make the same purchase 5 times. That's a lost purchase every month (or so, depending on how much you jones the beer).

            Ok so you lose out on 6 to 12 craft beers a month because of the tax hike, and you stick to lower quality or less quantity beer to save money. That's a 6-pack or two that local breweries stop selling in stores just because the taxes are too high! Now if everyone who currently buys craft beer can no longer afford to buy that one more 6-pack or 12-pack of local beer any more that's . . . a lot of lost beer for local businesses. Hey, I write, I'm no math wiz. Suffice it to say that the first, immediate blow would be to the local brewer whose beer sales suddenly start falling flat.


An over-dramatic representation of crashing beer sales. Thanks Mr. Bill.

(Courtesy: Flickr)


            The cost would be even worse for kegs. Say you're buying up a keg for a event (or a long lonely weekend alone) or you buy kegs for a restaurant or bar. No longer just the $100.00 (I'll keep the price simple here) plus 6% tax ($106, I can do that one!), now you would be looking at $126.00, plus whatever other fees the package stores charge. So much for buying local kegs! At that rate it becomes a point of serious consideration on what beer to spend money on. The small-time buyer may be able to absorb the extra four bucks for tax, but at the higher keg-rates the money for taxes becomes harder to rectify.

            Now I know that "something" has to be done about our deficit, yeah. And I know that raising taxes is probably the easiest and most dramatic thing to be done about debt reduction. But once people start laying heavier government hands on my beer, you can't expect me to take it quietly. Check out the links above to chime in on the current situation at www.ctbeertrail.net. And post how you feel here about this proposal, as I refuse to believe I'm the only ticked-off hophead towards this motion!

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Comment by Bryon Turner on May 5, 2011 at 12:19pm
Bottom line, these nickels and dimes add up. I agree the overall sales tax is most troubling. When you break it all down it doesn't sound THAT bad, but the cost to local pub owners will hurt them and it will roll down hill to the customers. Once again, I say the government needs to spend less. Look back at our nation's history the tax on tea wasn't that big either. We all know how that turned out. ;-)
Comment by Brien Stephen on May 5, 2011 at 10:52am
Good research Kevin! You're dead on about sensational news selling papers (or ad space, or viewers), and judging by the actual data the increase wouldn't be the "kick in the teeth" that I thought it would be. Still a bummer, but not really even that noticeable unless you know what to look for.
Comment by Paul Griffin on May 4, 2011 at 2:25pm
May be time to stock up!
Comment by Bryon Turner on April 29, 2011 at 11:04pm
Here's an idea that may fix the deficit... Spend less! When my budget at home is hurting, I spend less, seems to help. Sadly with increased taxes, I WILL need to spend less.

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