Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I'm not dead, and neither is privatization

Thanks to the readers who asked where the hell I was the past three weeks... I've been really tied up with Malt Advocate. My duties have expanded there, and I've been getting that settled. I think we're on-track now.

I was also in Kentucky and Ohio for four days, visiting with new A.Smith Bowman distiller Truman Cox (he was just finishing up work at Buffalo Trace; I think he starts in Virginia this week, and best of luck to him!), Heaven Hill icon Parker Beam, and Wild Turkey legend Jimmy Russell...who was hosting a little shindig for Wild Turkey's brand-new distillery, and it's a beaut, as I wrote here. (You'll notice that John hasn't posted much either, lately: it's just a slow time of year, folks!)

I also dropped in on Athens, Ohio on my way home. I'm going to be hosting Ohio Brew Week there, starting this Saturday, so since I've never been there, I thought I'd take a look around. Well, there was a great brewpub -- Jackie O's -- where I had a delish pizza and several guest beers (had to leave before they opened, but I did get a quick tour of their barrel-aging room...good God, it's amazing!), and a bunch of fun bars up and down the block. I also made a quick visit to Salaam, the Mid-East restaurant where I'll be doing a beer dinner Monday night, and wound up in a press conference that resulted in this piece.

After that, well, had a lot of writing to do, a lot of family stuff, my mom's 80th birthday to celebrate, a trip to upstate NY for a graduation party and a gathering of my wife's clan for a graduation party and a 4th of July celebration (that included a sixtel of Walt Wit that we kicked, and thanks to the low session-type ABV, no one got silly). We toured Syracuse University on the way home -- first of Nora's campus visits, and an impressive one -- and lunched at Dinosaur Barbeque: the Big Ass Pork Plate has a hypnotic effect on me.

About that pork...I also got in almost 50 miles on the bike over the weekend, riding the Erie Canalway with Cathy and her brothers. I'm recording my mileage here to benefit bike charities; if anyone wants to sign up, please do so! (I think you can guess which silly username is mine...)

Anyway...I said privatization (as in Pennsylvania wine and liquor retail privatization) isn't dead, and I meant it. Check this out. Since then, I've been in touch with several NGOs about participation in strategy sessions on privatization. I know there are whiskey and even wine drinkers reading this blog, but the lion's share are beer drinkers. Get interested: beer is going to be very much a part of this.

It's my firm belief, borne up by experience in other states, that wine and liquor sales are a key component to beer sale success in a fully-privatized retail system. Ideally: private wholesale operations feeding private retail operations that sell "all-alcohol": beer, wine, and spirits. The supermarket sales genie has already been let out of the bottle, for better or worse, so we're going to have to deal with that.

There will be bills popping up. We need to read them carefully, and make our voices heard. I plan to have a bullet list of what I want to see in a privatization bill and what I really don't want to see in one. Look for that soon. In the meantime, check out the ridiculous amounts of taxes Pennsylvanians pay for wine and spirits, and how that's going to sink privatization...if we let it.


Joe said...

If you are not drinking Tall Boys, you don't know Schlitz

Lew Bryson said...

Not sure what that has to do with it, but I do like the music.

Anonymous said...

that piece is weak. anyway i'll take genny cream tall boys any day

Lew Bryson said...

First ghosts, then Tall Boys. Unreal.

Louis A. Wehle said...

Indeed, our Genesee Bock, Ale and Cream Ale can satisfy the most persistent thirst much moreso than any oversized container from Milwaukee.

The Dinner Table ™ said...

Back to reality, Im gald there is some movement on this front. However Lew as you can see with the previous numbingly intelligent post, there will be a great deal of "Crap" that goes with this type of change. I feel that it is quintessential at this time to regain ANY control we can get of what should be privatized systems. On the same topic AB-Inbev is slothing its way through self-distro States, including PA, and pushing its own slime to try to strip us small brewers of this privilege. As a brand new brewery this is our lifeblood, particularly when bundling a new brand. Glad to see your keeping on it and it helps inform cocerned folks like us.

sam k said...

See what happens when you report about the death of privatization, and then play possum your own self for three weeks? It's bound to bring out the ghosts!

Where's William B. "Stoney" Jones when you need him most?

sam k said...

Louis, you'll be pleased to know (and maybe you already do) that your brewery will be bringing out a very cool retro variety 12-pack this fall that will include Genesee beer, Cream Ale, and 12 Horse Ale.

The kicker is that they'll be bottled in those stubby NRs that haven't been around for about 30 years and will retail for less than $15 a case!

Your successors have done you proud!

Louis A. Wehle said...

Mr Sam K, Yes, I am aware, thank you very much. In fact, although I cannot get into the metaphysical specifics, I would say I had a little something to do with this rising.

We are on the right track, much to the dismay of my colleauges Ted Smulowitz and Leo Swartz, who have been thus far ineffective at providing such helpful "guidance" to their respective firm.