Wednesday, June 16, 2010

pounding micro-brews

From Steve LaFleur in Reason...

Craft beer is serious business in Oregon. Microbrewers contribute roughly $2.3 billion to the state's economy each year, pumping out 327,000 barrels annually. During the last five years, they have created 2,300 jobs, bringing the total number of Oregonians working in the industry to 5,200. There are at least 30 breweries within Portland city limits alone. Whether you're in the trendy Pearl district, the sprawling South East, or the quaint Mississippi neighborhood, you don't have to venture far to find the perfect pint.

Portland doesn't just export beer. Its local brews attract beer lovers to the city in droves. The four-day Oregon Brewers Festival drew 72,500 people in 2009.

Yet the Beaver State's craft breweries have faced two major recent challenges. First the Oregon legislature tried to increase the beer tax by a staggering 1,900 percent, to roughly $50 per barrel. Faced with broad opposition, lawmakers dropped that idea. Now the industry faces a greater challenge from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one that strikes not just at brewers' pocketbooks but at the quality of their product....

The new rules would have two unintended consequences for brewers. First, the increased water cost will hit them particularly hard. The Portland Water Bureau estimates that water costs for everyone will double within four years, and Widmer alone uses 40 million gallons a year. Second, beer is mostly made of water, and the particular taste of Portland brews is undoubtedly linked to the quality of the water that is used to make them. Now that's about to change, with no way for brewers to know how it will alter their product.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home