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“The Beacon,” Yazoo and Calfkiller’s high-tax ale, coming out in bottles

March 15, 2013 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Government

The Beacon

Yazoo Brewing Company and Calfkiller Brewing Company are shining a light on Tennessee’s high beer taxes with a new collaboration brew, The Beacon.

The beer made its debut Dec. 1 at the 12 South Winter Warmer in Nashville. Now, it’s headed to shelves near you in bottles.

The beer will be released Monday, according to a press release issued this morning from the “Fix the Beer Tax” coalition, which is pushing for passage of the Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013. (Read the full press release below.)

The Beacon is an unfiltered beer brewed with some German oak smoked wheat malt, Tennessee honey and some in-house Calfkiller-roasted coffee.

Brewing Reform: A Drink to Fixing the Tax That Ales Tennessee

Yazoo Brewing and Calfkiller Brewing create a special beer to highlight Tennessee’s distinction as the highest-beer-tax state in the nation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Yazoo Brewing Company of Nashville and Calfkiller Brewing Company of Sparta will debut a new batch of beer Monday that highlights the Volunteer State’s dubious status as the nation’s highest taxer of beer. If you are thirsty for beer tax reform, fill your glass with “The Beacon: A Tennessee High Tax Ale,” a creation guaranteed to be “oppressively refreshing.”

While craft brewing is one of the nation’s fastest-growing industries, Tennessee craft brewers are faced with punitive tax policy – an odd wholesale tax based on price that results in a compounding effective tax rate that is 12 percent higher than even No. 2 Alaska, and ratchets higher every year with inflation. The tax results in brewers’ taxes and consumers’ prices rising higher, higher, higher.

This fact inspired Yazoo and Calfkiller to “cut the red tape” and “pop the top” on Tennessee’s guaranteed highest-tax ale.

“The world has changed – Tennessee has changed – a great deal since the wholesale tax was established in 1954,” said the Sergio Brothers of Calfkiller. “In addition to higher taxes, this has a detrimental effect on economic development and consumer choice.”

Even though Nashville’s Yazoo Brewery is based in Tennessee, it is much more profitable for them to truck and sell its products to customers in other states than to pay the state’s $37 per barrel tax. Breweries often ship their products straight through Tennessee but don’t stop at warehouses here, venturing on instead to places such as Arkansas ($7.51) or Mississippi ($13.23).

“It’s time to fix the beer tax to reflect the modern marketplace, which includes growth of craft brewers, to encourage rather than discourage economic investment,” said Linus Hall, owner of Yazoo. “The Sergios and I both have been frustrated by the effects this tax has had on our ability to grow, so we thought what better way to bring attention to it than to create a unique style of beer to Tennessee— the “Tennessee High Tax Ale” —while also making a statement about the future of this industry.”

Appearing in the general assembly Tuesday with votes in the House Local and Senate State and Local Committees is the Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013, sponsored by Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown). The legislation will change Tennessee’s tax on beer to a more business friendly volume-based calculation— taking the heat off small businesses from Memphis to Bristol.

A coalition of statewide supporters has emerged to back the reform proposal, including the state’s large distributors, crafter brewers and consumers. The group has held large rallies in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Tri-Cities. For campaign updates, follow Yazoo @yazoobrew; the statewide campaign, @fixthebeertax; and Calfkiller @calfkillerbeer.

“Fix the Beer Tax” supporters rally in Memphis at Young Avenue Deli

February 09, 2013 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Distribution, Events, Memphis

High Cotton at Fix the Beer Tax rally

High Cotton Brewing’s Mike Lee hands out samples of Ginners Pride ESB at the Fix the Beer Tax rally on Friday at the Young Avenue Deli.

More than 100 beer enthusiasts and industry representatives gathered Friday night in Memphis to rally for change in Tennessee’s beer taxes.

The “Fix the Beer Tax” campaign, which launched last week in Nashville, took over the Young Avenue Deli in Cooper-Young for a rally in support of the “Beer Reform Act of 2013.”
Fix the Beer Tax
“This bill is about bringing jobs to Tennessee. If we can fix our beer tax, we can have more brewers here, more jobs in those breweries. We can have more choices for consumers and more choices, most importantly, at a lower price,” said Tennessee State Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), sponsor of the bill. (Watch video of Kelsey’s speech below.)

The Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013 seeks to reform the 17% beer wholesale tax in Tennessee, which contributes to the state having the highest beer taxes in the nation. (Read FuzzyBrew’s earlier post here.)

In addition to speeches by Kelsey and others, there was great Tennessee beer to try.

For a $5 donation, you could sample beers from Ghost River Brewing, Jackalope Brewing CompanyYazoo Brewing Company, Calfkiller Brewing Company, along with Memphis start-ups Memphis Made Brewing Company and High Cotton Brewing Company.

You can follow the progress of the bill on the Tennessee General Assembly’s website here, or follow the campaign at www.fixthebeertax.com, and at www.facebook.com/fixthebeertax.

State Sen. Brian Kelsey:

Memphis Made’s Drew Barton:

Yazoo, Calfkiller collaboration brew, “The Beacon,” shines light on Tenn.’s high beer taxes

November 30, 2012 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Events, Government

The BeaconTennessee’s highest-in-the-nation beer taxes, including the state’s 17% beer wholesale tax, have inspired a new beer.

Yazoo Brewing Company and Calfkiller Brewing Company are shining a light on Tennessee’s beer taxes with a new collaboration brew, The Beacon, which will be available to taste for the first time Saturday at the sold-out 12 South Winter Warmer beer festival in Nashville.

The Beacon is an unfiltered beer brewed with some German oak smoked wheat malt, Tennessee honey and some in-house Calfkiller-roasted coffee. A seven-barrel batch of the beer was brewed in Sparta, Tenn., earlier this month.

Here’s more about the collaboration beer from Yazoo’s Linus Hall:

One thing we definitely have in common is our drive to change Tennessee’s beer taxes, which unfairly tax craft brewers at a higher per-gallon rate than beers from the big brewers, and which have risen every year since 1954, to where TN’s beer taxes are the highest in the country. So… we decided to put our frustrations into liquid form. Introducing… THE BEACON! Shining a light on a STYLE OF BEER UNIQUE TO TENNESSEE! THE “TENNESSEE HIGH TAX ALE” STYLE! Yes, only Tennessee can lay claim to this unique style of beer, where the taxes are raised to an almost unbelievable level of $37.00 per barrel. Other areas of the country can claim unique styles of beer, but only in TN are beer taxes taken to this level. We should be so proud!” [source]

If you aren’t going to the 12 South Winter Warmer, Hall says there will be keg tappings of the beer across Tennessee in the weeks to come. Plus, a second batch of the beer will be brewed at Yazoo and bottled in 750 ml bottles “for distribution wherever the light needs to shine in Tennessee.”

Hall is president of the board of directors for the newly-formed Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild, which is working to help change the beer laws in the Volunteer State.

More details about the Craft Brewers Guild’s efforts are expected to be announced soon. Stay tuned.