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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:

“Fix the Beer Tax” campaign comes to Memphis on Friday with rally at Young Avenue Deli

February 06, 2013 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Distribution, Events, Memphis

Fix the Beer TaxThe “Fix the Beer Tax” campaign — which is aimed at reining in Tennessee’s highest-in-the-nation beer taxes — is coming to Memphis this week.

The Young Avenue Deli in Cooper-Young will play host to a rally on Friday from 5-7 p.m. in support of the Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013. There will be petitions to sign and Tennessee-brewed beers available for tasting. Brewers, distributors and legislative sponsor State Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) will be in attendance.

The statewide campaign, which is being spearheaded by the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild and Tennessee Malt Beverage Association, was launched last week in Nashville with a rally at Yazoo Brewing Company that drew more than 400 people.

Here’s the full press release about Friday’s event in Memphis:

Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013 campaign rallying at Young Avenue Deli

Distributors, Brewers, Consumers: Rein in nation’s highest, out-of-control beer tax

MEMPHIS – A statewide campaign to reform 1950s era beer tax policy that is the root cause of Tennessee’s dubious rank as the nation’s highest beer tax state will conduct a Memphis rally at Midtown’s Young Avenue Deli on Friday, Feb. 8, at 5 p.m.  Participants will include legislative sponsor Brian Kelsey, Memphis area beer distributors and brewers, and hundreds of consumers.

The Beer Tax Reform Act of 2013, filed Jan. 29 by Sen. Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville), proposes to modernize Tennessee beer tax with a simple modification. It would calculate wholesale tax on volume rather than price and solve Tennessee’s odd (and nationally unparalleled) tax policy that currently results in the beer tax rate rising exponentially higher every year.

Here’s how much higher it rises: In 2008, Tennessee caught and passed Alaska as the top state taxer of beer.  By 2012, Tennessee had increased that lead by 12 points, and if the state keeps rising at the current average annual price increase of $1.15, in five years the average tax rate will be $42.75 per barrel – 29 percent higher than Alaska; in 10 years it will be $48.50 – 46 percent higher; in 15 years, it will be $54.25 per barrel – 64 percent higher.

The statewide Fix the Beer Tax campaign began last week in Nashville with an event that attracted more than 400 Tennesseans and resulted in an explosion of statewide social media in support of legislative reform.  This week the campaign will be visible in dozens of Memphis area restaurants and craft brewery establishments, inviting consumers though social media to voice support and contact legislators. The campaign is on the Web at www.fixthebeertax.com; on Facebook at www.facebook/fixthebeertax; and on Twitter at @fixthebeertax.

“Tennessee is beyond the tipping point,” said Rich Foge, president of Tennessee Malt Beverage Association.  “The current tax policy allows the tax rate to rise unchecked at such a dramatic rise that it is now impacting competitiveness, economic opportunity and costs and choice for consumers.  The tax rate is out of control – it’s time to modernize this old tax and make it right.”

Also, here’s video from the “Fix the Beer Tax” kickoff in Nashville this week:

VIDEO: “Fix the Beer Tax” kick-off event in Nashville

February 03, 2013 By: mike Category: Breweries, Craft beer, Distribution, Events, Government

Fix the Beer TaxFor those who missed the “Fix the Beer Tax” kickoff Wednesday in Nashville, here’s some video below from the event.

There were speeches from Linus Hall from Yazoo Brewing Company and the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild; Rich Foge of the Tennessee Malt Beverage Association; and legislative sponsors State Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and State Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown). There are also some testimonials at the end.

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.)

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.