If you think the government shutdown has no effect on you, my fellow explorer, you might be wrong. Especially if you are a real fan of craft beers, and follow breaking trends. Here’s the deal. As brewers around the state and nation prepare to release new beers, open up new breweries turning out new recipes, and introduce new labels to an ever-growing market of fans, a federal agency, now closed and shuttered for the duration, holds the only key to these new and varied launches. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is the agency mandated with the processing of certification and permits allowing brewers to release both new brews (recipes) and new bottle labeling. With it shut down, the release of said brews and bottles is also shut down. Now, to many folks around the country this may seem like peanuts compared to the other programs being closed and otherwise adversely affected by the government shutdown. But to someone like Jim Koch, the guy who owns the Boston Beer Company, the shutdown could turn out to be economically disastrous. In a CBS News This Morning Thursday interview with Koch, the co-founder of the company which bottles Samuel Adams beer and other stunningly popular brews, he explained the government shutdown does and will continue to have a real negative impact on the craft brewing industry “Craft brewing is very regulated,” Koch told CBS. “Every time we have a new beer, we have to have a label approved. Every time we have a new brewing process, we need federal approval and when we have new beers ready to bring to market, we need federal approval.” He then went on to point out that if new varieties he has waiting in the wings can’t be approved in a timely fashion, and the labels and recipes aren’t given the go-ahead, he may end up dumping huge quantities of beer. Dumping! Now, nobody is saying beer lovers around the country will be going thirsty, but they are saying that there may be some substantial delays in new product hitting the shelves, and in new producers being able to begin production. Too bad. But ... moving on. One of the beers reviewed this week is an excellent American Porter. We have discussed Porter in the past. I am a BIG fan of the genre, so it has not gone unmentioned in these columns. Still, some might ask American Porter? English Porter? What’s the difference? Wellll ... there is a difference actually. While some explorers tend to appreciate the old version of Porter more than the upstart American version, there is a lot to be said for the refreshing innovations brewers in the U.S. have applied to American Porter. In very general terms, American Porter is a bit hoppier that its English cousin. Just a touch. Sometimes barely noticeable, but enough to add just a little ‘something’ to the brew and the back-taste. Often, the American brewers use adjunct ingredients, (e.g. coffee or chocolate), to add a bit of flavorful heftiness to the brew. Some brewers have used smoked malts to create a ‘stage’ for the accompanying flavors. There are even some brewers who have gone so far as to barrel age their beer. Whatever the case, American brewers are really creating a brew that is outdoing its English predecessor in popularity. Now, enjoy this week’s sampling.
Old Leghumper Thirsty Dog Brewing Company Akron, Ohio