Conditioning... (and Farmers' Markets)

That first official batch of Hellsmoke Porter is conditioning away in Corny kegs, awaiting bottling (and kegging, if my Sanke kegs arrive soon).

The folks at the New York State Brewers Association are getting behind a pending bill in the NY State Legislature to allow small brewers to sell beer at farmers' markets and fairs (in sealed containers for off-premise consumption). However, no action is likely until the new session convenes next year.

Watch this space for more. If you are inclined to participatory democracy, please write your NY State Assembly Member and NY State Senator to support the following bill:


BILL NO. A07252

TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the alcoholic beverage control law,
in relation to permitting certain brewers to sell beer at fairs and
farmers` markets

PURPOSE : To promote micro breweries in New York State by
authorizing micro breweries to sell beer at fairs and farmers`
markets.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS : This bill would amend section 51 of the
alcoholic beverage control law to authorize licensed brewers with an
annual production of less than 60,000 barrels to apply to the State
Liquor Authority for a permit to serve bottled beer at the state fair,
county fairs and not-for-profit farmers` markets. A representative of
the brewer would be required to be present at the time of the sale.

JUSTIFICATION : This bill is intended to promote micro breweries in
New York State by authorizing them to sell beer at fairs and farmers`
markets in the same manner as wineries are currently authorized to
sell wine at fairs and farmers` markets. It is estimated that this
authorization could increase sales of these small businesses by five
percent which will produce jobs and further economic development in
New York.

It is important to note that, as is the case with wineries, micro
breweries would be required to obtain a permit from the State Liquor
Authority under the provisions of this bill in order to sell beer at
fairs and farmers` markets, thereby ensuring that this authorization
would be closely regulated.



The number of the bill will be different in the NY State Senate, there it is S 2466.

ALSO: The number of the bill before both the Assembly and the Senate will possibly change in the new session. Watch this space for more as things progress...

License Update

Another cautionary tale for anyone else considering starting up a brewery. Don't be a ascared... I'm still saying "come on in, the wort is fine."

So, back on April 16th, over seven months after I had submitted my application materials (for the second time), I stood before the Board of the NY State Liquor Authority to answer any questions before they voted on granting me a micro brewery license. I took with me copies of everything I could think they might want to see. However, after only two questions and about as many minutes, the voice vote of the Board was taken, and all said "approve". The Commissioner then looked at me and, with a bang of a gavel, stated "Approved."

That was that...

... so I thought.

About one week later, I received a "Conditional Letter of Approval" outlining three items I needed to provide before a license would actually be issued. Three items that I had with me at the meeting, in case anyone asked. Much of what I brought with me was duplication of what I had submitted months previous - just in case. Two of the three items on the list were things I had already provided, but I figured, OK -- just send it in again. And so, I did, via US Mail Next Day Express.

After two weeks, I began inquiring. And asking. And questioning... as more and more weeks went by.

Finally, someone answered.

Oh, yeah. there's one more thing we need from you.

This one more thing, I provided.

On July 2nd, I was told, the license would be issued.

Sometimes, seeing is believing, other times it's believing is seeing. For me, for this, it was the former. But I now have in my hands the actual "MICRO BREWER LICENSE 2009 1 SUFF MI 1198544 101"

TTB TKO's SuckerPunch

If you happen to have any curiosity about what can, can't, and should be on a beer label (especially if you might be considering starting a brewery), read on...

I've chalked this one up to the learning process. Much of what I learned on my submission for label approval to the TTB (United States Department of the Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) was applicable to my subsequent submissions for other labels.

The following, an adaptation of one of my homebrew labels, was nixed by the TTB:

SuckerPunch Golden Strong Ale

As ruled by the TTB:


Code 150
Malt beverage labels may not contain the words "strong", "full strength" or similar words likely to be considered/confused with statements of alcohol content.

Code 108
The net content stated on your labels are in metric units of measure. US measure is required for malt beverages and must be stated as follows; If less than a pint = In fluid ounces, If 1 pint, 1 quart or 1 gallon = it shall be stated; If more than 1 pint, 1 quart, or 1 gallon = it shall be stated in fractions or in quarts, pints and ounces. Example: 1 pint 9 fluid ounces.

THE NET CONTENTS MUST BE STATED AS "1 PINT, 6 FLUID OUNCES".

Code 63
On containers of this size, the Government Warning statement must appear in printing not smaller than 2mm. When upper and lower case lettering is used, the lower case lettering must appear in 2 MM print. 27 CFR § 16.22(b)(2)

Code 15
Your statement of alcohol content must be changed to read Alc. ______% by Vol. 27 CFR § 4.36(b)(1)

Code 14
Your alcohol statement may not appear in printing smaller than 1 MM or larger than 3 MM. 27 CFR § 4.38(b)(3)

Code 5
The company name and address (city and state) is required to appear on your front label. 27 CFR § 4.35(a)

Code 116
The text "SUCKER PUNCH" and the image of the fist touts the alcohol content of the product and the effect that the product will have on the consumer. Delete or change this text.


I thought that I was warning folks about the alcohol content, rather than touting it.
There was even a now-obscure reference to an Abbott & Costello routine on the label.

Abbott is Costello's manager/corner man for a boxing match. Costello is overmatched in the upcoming bout, but Abbott is giving him a pep talk:

Abbott
Give him the old one-three, one-three.

Costello
What happened to "two"?

Abbott
"Two" you get.

(Maybe you had to "be there.")

After going back to the proverbial drawing board, I submitted the following, which was approved by the TTB yesterday. Henceforth, the (Belgian style) Golden Strong Ale offered by The Blind Bat Brewery will be

6ixth Sense Ale Belgian-Style Golden Ale


Now all I have to do is get the label registered with the Wholesale Division of the NY State Liquor Authority, start making some sales calls, and get it out on shelves.


Oh yeah, and brew this sucker.

Licensed to Brew

I appeared (briefly, once it was my turn) before the Board of the New York State Liquor Authority yesterday in NYC. 222 days after sending in my second round of application materials, with some followup along the way, the Blind Bat Brewery is now approved for a NY State license.

When I was going through the Federal application process last summer with the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), I was told by the TTB that I was not allowed to brew until I had licensing in hand. So, it's been a looooooong time since I have brewed. The next few weeks will involve finalizing things in the brewhouse and brewing up some test batches to get my brewing chops back.

Stay tuned for actual beer actually hitting actual shelves!

On The Calendar At Last

The Blind Bat Brewery is on the agenda for the next meeting of the full board of the New York State Liquor Authority: Wednesday, April 16th. The full board will vote aye or nay on granting a state license to the brewery.

Stress?


What stress??


Mailed application on August 31st, 2007
Application officially received by the New York State Liquor Authority on September 7th, 2007

215 days and counting...

No License Today... but some nice exposure in print and online...

The Full Board Calendar for today's NY State Liquor Authority meeting (http://abc.state.ny.us/agenda/agenda030508.html) hasn't been updated since last Wednesday (Feb. 27th). The Blind Bat Brewery LLC is not on the published agenda, so it looks like I'll have to wait until the next full board meeting: Thursday, March 20th. Keeping fingers and toes crossed until then, although that is causing some problems with typing and walking.

However, there is a nice little piece on me and the brewery in this month's Canvas magazine. Very generous, considering that the brewery is not yet active.

To top that, the writer of the Canvas piece, wine writer/commentator and guru Lenn Thompson wrote an even more generous piece on his wine blog (LENNDEVOURS). This piece includes a nice mention of my wife Regina, and her career move from librarian to farmer for the Sophia Garden organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Regina and I had the pleasure of meeting Lenn at the Canvas LI wine and food event at the Canvas gallery last Saturday evening.


New York State Liquor Authority

Well, there is still time, but I am not as yet on the agenda for the next full board meeting of the NY State Liquor Authority (Wednesday, March 5th):

http://abc.state.ny.us/JSP/content/fullBoard.jsp

... still keeping fingers and toes crossed, but might have to keep doing so until March 20th

Quick check in: Deux

It's been a while since I've noted anything on the old blog. Boy, my last post was pretty grim.

There is finally some movement on the license from NY State. After submitting additional material, the report was finalized for the members of the New York State Liquor Authority. The next step is the vote of the board, but the brewery isn't yet scheduled for the next meeting (February 20th). It might make the following meeting of the board, March 4th. Keeping fingers and toes crossed here.

Hop rhizomes should be arriving in early March, I'll be planting Fuggles, Hallertauer, Mt Hood, Sterling, and Willamette. I've already been growing Centennial, Chinook, and Nugget.

Quick check in

Still no State License.

Bumpy road ahead....

The price of hops: Going up.
The price of malted barley: Going up.
The price of stainless steel: Going up.
The price of glass: Going up.
The price of cardboard: Going up.

The availability of hops: Going down.
The quality of available malted barley: Questionable.

"Adapt and overcome."

Catching Up

Well, I obviously haven't been keeping up with the Brewhouse Blog,
so to quickly recap what's been happening since August 31st:


  1. Completed paperwork for NY State License (round 2).

  2. Submitted paperwork for NY State License to the New York State Liquor Authority ("gotta be in it to win it")

  3. Filed first quarterly report to the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, part of the U.S. Department of the Treasury). Even though there was no activity to report, a report had to be filed.

  4. Unable to brew while State license is pending, so have been dreaming of milling grains, mashing, boiling, pitching yeast, kegging, and bottling.

    Oddly enough, haven't had any dreams of cleaning and sanitizing equipment. And that's the fun part!

  5. With help of my Dad, Brother, and Brother-In-Law (the foreman), have built an insulated, temperature-controlled fermentation room (happy yeast makes happy beer) and brewhouse in what had been our circa 1928 garage.

  6. Assembling stainless-steel conical fermenter.

  7. Getting ready to file official TTB form (Brewers Notice) reporting items 5 and 6 above.

  8. Met up a couple of times with the Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts. I haven't been able to meet up with the group nearly as often as I would like (work + brewery startup + some life = notmuchtimetospare).

    If you live on Long Island, and enjoy good beer and/or whiskey and/or scotch, check out http://groups.google.com/group/beermalt . You might want to join up. A great bunch of folks, bringing a wealth of perspective, knowledge, and appreciation of the finer things in life. And, it's fun! ....Tell 'em the Blind Bat sent ya.

Hoo-Hah

Got word today from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)
that my application for a Federal Brewery License
has been approved (as of August 2, 2007).

Contrary to expectations, the TTB was very helpful and pleasant to deal with.
(I'm not brown nosing here, no need since the license has been approved).

Once some additional forms are filled out, and I have official paper notification,
I can next send a pile of material that is ready to go to the
New York State Liquor Authority for State license approval.

Getting closer...