Love That Dirty Water, Baby

“I’m gonna tell you a story/I’m gonna tell you about my town/I’m gonna tell you a big fat story, baby/Aw, it’s all about my town/Yeah, down by the river/Down by the banks of the river Charles/…Well, I love that dirty water/Oh, Boston, you’re my home/

The Standells, with those iconic lines, made their way into the vibrant fabric that is Boston, not to mention into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll”. On October 1, some intrepid Boston area brewers are hoping to own their own little slice of history, by claiming the title to “Brew the Charles”, a featured event at the HUBweek closing party. HUBweek describes itself as a “creative festival that celebrates innovation at the intersection of art, science and technology”. (https://hubweek.org/#about-hubweek) As part of this year’s HUBweek, a Newton, Massachusetts-based water technology company, Desalitech challenged area breweries to make a craft beer, using water from the Charles that had been run through its treatment and purification system. Boston Beer Company, Cape Ann Brewing Company, Castle Island Brewing Co., Harpoon Brewery, Idle Hands Craft Ales and Ipswich Ale Brewery all took the challenge, and each will be presenting their craft beer to a thirsty audience at the HUBweek closing event. Twenty percent of the funds raised will go to the local charity aimed at opening a swimming area on the Charles, the Charles River Conservancy’s “Swim the Charles” program. So, if you happen to be in Boston on October 1st, you can do good while feeling good, and it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Brewing is a serious business, and the members of the Verrill Dana Breweries, Distilleries & Wineries Group are here to help your business navigate the rules and regulations of craft brewing. For more information, or to request assistance, contact a member of the Verrill Dana team.

On Tap For Yuengling, Clean Water Act Penalties

Wastewater disposal for large breweries, mid-sized establishments, and even small craft brewers, remains a significant environmental and economic challenge. Recently, the oldest brewery in America received an unpleasant reminder of this fact.

D.G. Yuengling and Sons, Inc. was issued a complaint from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging that Yuengling violated its discharge permit standards at least 141 times between 2008 and 2015. Yuengling holds an Industrial User (IU) permit that allows it to discharge wastewater to the publically owned treatment works (POTW), but only after it treats its discharge to limits set in its permit. Treatment of wastewater before discharge is known as, “pretreatment.” For brewers like Yuengling, pretreatment largely involves balancing pH levels and minimizing Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) (a measure of how easy it is for microorganism at the POTW to breakdown organic materials) and Total Suspended Solids (TSS) (a measure of how much particulate material is in wastewater). High levels of BOD and TSS make it difficult for the microorganism at the POTW to do its job of breaking down organic matter and sludge. The remnants from the brewing process such as yeast, sugars, and proteins all elevate both BOD and TSS. (more…)

OSHA Penalties May Cause Craft-Industry to Say O SH**

Late last week, while everyone was focused on the summer holiday, the Department of Labor announced that pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvement Act, OSHA’s maximum penalties, which have not been raised since 1990, will increase by 78 percent. This will increase the “serious”, “other-than-serious” and “posting requirements” penalty from $7,000 to $12,471 per violation, the failure to abate from $7,000 per day beyond abatement date to $12,471 per day beyond abatement date, and increase the maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations from $70,000 to $124,709. These figures can drastically hinder any business, let alone any start-ups or craft-beverage producers. (more…)

Beer Distributor Appeals NLRB Finding as to Terminated Union Employee Who Reeked of Marijuana

Appellate briefing to the Second Circuit was completed earlier this week in Manhattan Beer Distributors LLC v. NLRB, a case in which the NLRB, in 2015, held that Manhattan Beer Distributors violated an employee’s Weingarten rights when they terminated a distribution employee who “reeked” of marijuana after he refused to submit to a drug test without a union representative present.

In NLRB v. J. Weingarten Inc. (1975), the U.S. Supreme Court held that an employee has a statutory right to request a union representative during an investigative interview which the employee reasonably believes could result in disciplinary action. In the current action, the question was whether the submission to a drug test was “an investigatory interview” which would thus result in the employee having Weingarten rights. (more…)

Funding Your “Pipe” Dream – Crowdfunding in the Craft Brewing Scene

In a story drawn from the dreams of a back-packing college student, the Associated Press reports that Belgian brewery owner Xavier Vanneste used crowdfunding to help finance development of a two-mile pipeline to pump thousands of gallons of beer each day from his brewery in historic Bruges, Belgium to an industrial zone for bottling.

While building a pipeline seems better suited for oil barons than a Belgian brewer, Venneste’s offer of dividends in the form of one bottle of beer each day for the rest of your life seems to have foamed the fancy of many a European beer enthusiast.

So could crowdfunding turn your craft brewing “pipe” dream into a reality? (more…)

Birds on Tap – Yup, That’s a Thing

Nothing goes better with a cold one than a bird. Think about it – fried chicken, wings – nothing takes down a case of beer munchies like . . .

(Hold on, I’m being told that this blog post is supposed to be about the growing popularity of combining bird watching with craft brewery tours.)

At any rate, our good friends at the Maine Brew Bus are again teaming up with Derek Lovitch of Freeport Wild Bird Supply to offer a series of tours throughout the year that will allow you dear reader, to check out some of the finest fowl our great state has to offer while simultaneously visiting some great local breweries.

Details about last year’s Birds on Tap events here. For this year’s tour dates, check out this and this.

No promises, but if you go to one of these events, I think we all know what you’ll be saying.

Whiskey Distilled from Beer? Yes, Please!

Cool story in yesterday’s Portland Press Herald about collaboration between a couple of prominent locals: Liquid Riot has distilled some leftover Sebago Brewing beer (Bonfire Rye ale) to produce a whiskey-like liquor called Bonfire Spirit. Starting April 28th, Sebago will be selling it at its four brewpubs. One catch: there are just 200 12-ounce bottles so it will go fast.

The PPH story details the process in which Sebago and Liquid Riot ended up working together on the creation and also recaps some of the other cross pollination that goes on in the local scene between bars, brewers and distillers.

All and all, some nice publicity for Sebago and Liquid Riot and a good look at the history of southern Maine brewers working with their colleagues/competitors.

New England Brew Summit

This coming Friday, April 1st (insert obligatory April Fools joke), The Abromson Center at the University of Southern Maine will serve as host for the first ever New England Craft Brew Summit. I hope all of our readers will have a chance to attend as the event looks to be incredibly informative and, obviously, a really great time.

But I think this event speaks to a larger point that is incredibly important for our community. Craft beverage makers are having an impact on the New England economy that extends far beyond their tasting rooms or storefronts. The number of supporting industry members attending speaks for itself. But it is great to see that this opportunity for Maine and New England at large is attracting the attention of some of our politicians, as both Senator Angus King and Representative Chellie Pingree will be in attendance at the event. All in all, it looks to be a great time, and the event bodes well for the growth of the craft beer and alcoholic beverage industry in New England.

Want to Operate a Tasting Room? You’ll Need to Pay Up First.

The Portland City Council voted on Monday to require Portland breweries to pay a $500 fee to operate their tasting rooms. According to the Portland Press Herald article linked below, Councilor Suslovic believes the city has a legitimate public safety concern in regulating tasting rooms. The vote is likely also in response to recent complaints from bar owners, who feel the breweries have an advantage over bars. Regardless of the reasons for the vote, the license requirement goes into effect next month.

Portland Press Herald article here: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/21/portland-imposes-500-fee-on-breweries-with-tasting-rooms/