Honest Pint Project ... Going Big Time?

Jeff Alworth

Some of you know about my various half-assed agitations on behalf of so-called "honest pints."  As a blogger, my efforts have been characteristically poorly-organized and fitful.  The project began more than a year ago, when I idly mentioned on my beer blog that the ubiquitous shaker pints we see throughout the city weren't all 16 ounces.  This created enough energy to spur me to fool around with a petition, which led to some low-grade blogging outrage.  I was satisfied with these modest results.

But then the Wall Street Journal and NPR (among others) picked it up and we were off to the races. (Nothing like appearing in the WSJ makes you wish you'd been a bit more intentional about a project.) I have tried to formalize the damn thing, but again, fitfully, but at least I finally came up with a definition of an "honest pint" and got a website up.

Well, to my shock, the thing is now in the Oregon Legislature, championed by my own state legislator Jules Bailey.  Behold HB 3122:

Allows holder of full on-premises sales license or limited on-premises sales license to obtain verification of capacity of pint glasses used at licensed premises for draught malt beverages. Allows holder to obtain display sticker from Oregon Liquor Control Commission if glasses at premises hold pint of malt beverage under standard conditions....

SECTION 2. { + (1) If the Director of Human Services ... determines, based on a random sampling of the glasses, that the glasses used at the premises hold at least 16 fluid ounces of draught malt beverage when dispensed under standard conditions established by the director, the director shall provide the holder of the license with written verification of the measurement....

(3) The Oregon Liquor Control Commission shall design a decal that features the words 'honest pint' for display at qualifying premises.... Upon receiving a valid measurement verification, the commission shall issue the holder an 'honest pint' decal for display at the licensed premises where the director conducted the measurement verification.

I have bolded key phrases which were the hallmarks of the Honest Pint Project.  Essentially, this bill is the project.  (If you want more info about the development of the project, go here.)  It was referred to Business and Labor today.

I am ambivalent about the whole thing.  On the one hand, I had moved away from the idea that a legislative remedy was the way to go.  In that half-assed spirit a blogger embodies, I had hoped that raising the issue might be enough to provoke change.  On the other hand, as a serious beer fan, I have been offended that we don't take beer seriously enough to regulate "pints."  That Oregon might be the state to push this issue into law is congruent with a place we call "Beervana."  (In other words, suck on that, Colorado!)  It fills me with the parochial webfoot pride of knowing that angry beer drinkers can drive legislation here.  So I will watch its progression with amusement, amazement, and a wee touch of pride.

And I promise not to blog obsessively about it.

  • Meredith Shield (unverified)

    Thanks Jeff for your wok on this program!

    Rep. Bailey is looking forward to working on this legislation. Just to clarify, this is a voluntary program and those who participate will pay for it, not Oregon taxpayers. This will not be a regulation, but an opportunity for Oregon restaurants and bars.

  • Meredith Shield (unverified)

    And I meant work!

  • Bartender (unverified)

    How much is it projected to cost to participate in this program?

  • Eric Parker (unverified)

    How petty can you get? We have more pressing issues in this economy than giving an anal retentive government lackey a measuring device.

    I say, just live with what we have now, and leave the complaining and changing to the courts to decide. Besides, you all shouldn't be drinking any alcohol in the first place. Just because it's there does not entitle you to drink it.

  • Jim H (unverified)
    And I promise not to blog obsessively about it.

    No - please do!

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    For what it's worth, Brits aren't known for being too petty and they have been advertising "metric pints" v "imperial pints" for years now.

    It's smart leg. How about adding to it a proposal that beer and ale advertised as domestic means that it was brewed in the US? Almost every watering hole uses the word to mean "cheap, yellow, fizzy beer". If I hear that domestics are $2 at happy hour and ask for a Widmer, to be told "that's not a domestic", one more time, I'll scream.

  • Troy (unverified)

    That's funny Eric-- we have more pressing needs, so leave it the courts who, apparently, don't have more pressing issues to take care of.

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    I actually believe that this would be great for the Oregon Microbeer industry and Oregon tourism. It would be a public announcement to the world that we take our beer and our consumer rights seriously. It will attract beer tourists to the state. I think it can be part of an economic recovery program for Oregon

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    If people want to help pass this bill, sign up on Facebook by going into Causes and searching for "honest pint" - thanks!

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    we are the measure of who we are and what we do in the details of life. beer is not a trivial matter in Portland and many parts of Oregon; not only is it a vital industry in a state with precious few (a world-leading industry at that), it is a pleasure that, for a few dollars, many of us can enjoy on a daily basis.

    that enjoyment, like many others in life (say, sex) is enhanced in the company of friends. going out for a beer or two with friends is a cheap and enjoyable way to spend a few hours. when we do spend $4-$6 on a pint of our choice, we deserve to get exactly that: a pint. a real pint. (ok, i'd argue "real" means 20 oz, but i learned to drink beer in England long ago.) this law would have a small cost, it would be voluntary to participate in, and it would underscore the quality of bars and brewpubs who take their beer seriously. give the punters an honest pint; it will pay off.

    once again, Jules Bailey proves himself the political version of an honest pint. cheers, Jules (and Jeff).

    (Jules & Jeff? wasn't that a movie....?)

  • Sid Leader (unverified)

    What we need are more honest beer DRINKERS willing to pay their fair share in taxes.

    Drink up girls, while the state sinks!

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Sid, you need to add some kind of break line or .sig at the end so we can tell when the spam postings begin!

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    Folks, I think the legislature can do more than one thing at a time. An economic crisis doesn't mean we have to collapse in quivering heaps. (Unless, we're Republicans, in which case quivering in fear is the default position.)

    TA, Truffaut's my fave director--nice reference!

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    Barware in the UK and through the EC all have mandated volumes marked on the glass, as well as a fill line. The British pint gets to be a pint, rather than use the metric system, because of tradition, but no longer has a crown stamp; it now has the standard CE.

    If bar owners don't want to buy glassware that holds a full pint (plus head), I have no problem with the practice -- just don't call it a "pint." Heck, call it a "grande".

    I would love it if this passed.

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    I only wish your claims about the proposed beer tax were as honest as the pints you hope to get.

    I am particularly troubled about the claim that the tax must be taxed again by distributors and wholesalers and the claim that the small microbrewery can't afford the new tax. On the latter point, if they brew 100,000 bottles today and pay $800 on their $0.008 per bottle tax today, and would pay $10,800 if the tax were increased 10 cents a bottle to $0.108, they would collect all those extra dollars via the tax -- their profits per bottle would be the same.

    And don't tell me high prices will keep craft beer drinking down. The annual brewers' fest in Portland charges $4 to fill a mug and is well attended by craft brew fans.

  • scabbers (unverified)

    I'm all for the honest pint legislation. On beer taxes in general: For the last couple of decades the Democrats have been working to convince Joe(and Jane)-Six-Pack that they are on his/her side. If the Democrats use their hard-won Oregon Supermajority to raise the price of beer, there might be eventual payback.

  • Bartender (unverified)

    Thank you Mr. Sheketoff. I wasn't going to bring this up again, but I am too highly disturbed by the hypocritical stance of Mr. Alworth and the other beer tax opponents here at BlueOregon. And I'm pissed by the dishonest and misleading claims made by these same people. Especially so, when Mr. Alworth himself refutes these claims in a different venue (his beer blog, Beervana) and makes no mention of it over here.

    As we all now know, the beer tax opponents major argument is that a 30% (or more) margin will be added to this tax at every step along the distribution chain, resulting in exorbitant price increases at the retail level. This, they assert, will price them right out of the market and put them out of business.

    As a bartender who's worked in this business for over two decades, I recognized the BS right away. But I was shot down and insulted as a lazy, ignorant, and over-paid bartender, who had no right to question the status quo because I'm not a brewer.

    Yet, in 167 comments on Mr. Alworth's anti-beer tax post here on BlueOregon, many of which make the dubious claims I mentioned above, he didn't once try to dispel them even though he knew them to be unproven or even outright false.

    "The bill proposes an excise tax on beer at the production side, not a retail tax. No one has any idea how much the excise tax will affect beer prices." - Jeff Alworth, Beervana, February 26, 2009

    This quote comes from a post entitled "Fundamentally Dishonest" in which he "highlight[s] a particularly dishonest and misleading component of the backers' PR push;" stating that "the calculation of the tax in terms of cost to the customer on a per-glass basis is ubiquitous. It's pure spin, and it's absolutely neither fact nor a part of the policy."

    Later in the post he hypocritically admonishes the news media:

    "If any reporters happen to stumble onto this post, recognize that by identifying the costs using the spin of the beer-tax proponents, you are participating in the politics of the debate. That's not reporters' job, and my guess is the ones doing it aren't aware of the mistake."

    While I recognize that you are not a reporter, Mr. Alworth, and therefore (by your rules) ARE allowed to participate in the politics of the debate, I would expect you to at least be honest, and not withhold or otherwise obfuscate information to make your case here, especially when you ARE aware of the mistake. I saw no such admonishments to the brewers posting here that their figures re: per pint cost after the tax were a particularly dishonest and misleading component of the opponents' PR push.

    "Here's another interesting thing. It appears that there's no correlation between tax rates and per-capita consumption. ... Upshot: taxes don't appear to influence consumption." - Jeff Alworth, Beervana, February 18, 2009

    Hmmm, let's hear that again. "Taxes don't appear to influence consumption."

    Mr. Alworth paradoxically follows this up with: "Hard to say whether that's a pro or con on the beer tax."

    Hard to say whether that's a pro or a con? Really?? Excuse me if I'm wrong, (and I'm sure I will hear it if I am), but even if retail prices went up as much as they (dubiously) posit, doesn't that little factoid shoot the whole argument down? I mean, if highly taxed states have virtually the same per capita beer consumption as those with low taxes, it would appear that the retail market for beer will bear the higher prices that a tax increase would cause.

    In a comment in his post re: a gas tax increase, Mr. Alworth scolds another commenter "since you're making the arguments ..., it's up to you to show YOUR work. ... My guess is that this is one of those vague suspicion things that makes a poor rationale for public policy."

    Yet he, in his beer tax post, is more than willing to stir the pot without showing HIS work, and eagerly jump upon those "vague suspicion things" as rationale for this public policy. Ironic.

    Mr. Alworth wrote: "My agenda as a fan of Oregon beer has been clear since I started writing about it more than a decade ago."

    Too bad your agenda as a progressive takes a back seat when it comes to issues that affect you directly. Like beer. You have lost all credibility in my mind. I am highly disappointed and disillusioned by someone who purports to be a voice for Oregon progressives.

  • Cafe Today (unverified)

    @Chuck and Bartender:

    When Paul Romain gets involved in something, expect the truth to be bent.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Posted by: Bartender | Mar 13, 2009 6:25:54 PM

    Thank you Mr. Sheketoff. I wasn't going to bring this up again, but I am too highly disturbed by the hypocritical stance of Mr. Alworth and the other beer tax opponents

    Again, why is this black or white? Most said they'd support raising taxes to be in line with the rest of the country. The exorbitant amount proposed, and the insulting therapy culture prologue, was the issue.

    I usually agree with your math. Chuck, but the amounts actually proposed would have been consequential to commerce. We agree that increase to meet the national average would not.

    There are still much better things to tax.

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    I'm for a corn syrup tax. It's an unnecessary and unhealthy additive. And the amount of corn syrup in a product is roughly proportional to it's unhealthiness.

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    Chuck, you're doing the classic misdirection debating I expect from righties. Hey look, the OBF makes a lot of money, therefore a beer tax wouldn't hurt craft breweries. I would be delighted to debate you on the beer tax--it's one of the few issues I think I understand far better than you, based at least on your comments on the issue so far.

    Bartender: Especially so, when Mr. Alworth himself refutes these claims in a different venue (his beer blog, Beervana) and makes no mention of it over here.

    Dude, until you have the cajones to come out from behind the psuedonym, I think the crocodile tears about my transparency are fairly lame.

    I don't actually have the time to decode your fury about my position on the beer tax, but I will point out that all your quotes are available to you because I have been transparent.

    1. I am a huge supporter of retailers. It's the distributors whom I believe pervert the system. That we disagree on a political issue doesn't mean I'm out to get retailers like you (and I use that characterization loosely--since you won't use your name, we have no idea who you actually are)--it just means we disagree. Happens in a democracy.

    2. The Honest Pint bill won't cost anyone a dime. Well, it will cost something to print decals, but that's it. Comparing my position on honest pints and the beer tax is to confuse the two issues. And as I mentioned, I'm not 100% sure even this legislation, low-impact though it may be, is necessary.

  • (Show?)

    Oh and:

    I am highly disappointed and disillusioned by someone who purports to be a voice for Oregon progressives.

    Your concern is noted.

  • Bartender (unverified)

    Zarathustra -

    The hypocritical stance I am referring to is the one that says it's A-OK (and a wonderfully progressive thing, at that) to tax the hell out of smokers to pay for children's health care, for example, yet bitch about a beer tax for treatment because it's a tax that allegedly "pays for things explicitly unrelated (in his mind) to the activity," as Mr. Alworth wrote (and with which many others agreed).

    Translation: It's great to tax others because we are short of money and it's a worthwhile cause, just don't tax me. To me, that's a hypocritical (and very non-progressive) stance.

    And while many opponents here did reluctantly agree to a lesser tax increase eventually, the Oregon's Brewers Guild does not, to my knowledge. [Disclaimer: I don't know if the legislative hearing tapes are available - and I don't know how to find them if they are (I tried the Legislature's web site, but it is very confusing to me and I couldn't find them) - so I don't know if their stance had changed by the time of the hearings.]

    Anyway, the OBG blog still has the sample letter to legislators that someone posted on the other thread. It states: "It is neither strategic nor smart to raise the beer tax by more than 1900%; in fact, it would be unwise and harmful to the economy to approve any increase in Oregon’s beer tax." Furthermore, the group's FaceBook page is entitled "No New Oregon Beer Tax," as is the petition they've organized.

    I'd be very interested to hear if any of those opposing the proposed tax testified that they'd be willing to accept a lesser one. It didn't sound like that to me in reading the brief news accounts of the hearings, but again, I do not know for certain. Did any of you BlueOregon micro brew aficionados make the drive to Salem to testify in favor of a smaller tax?

    As far as the "insulting therapy culture prologue" goes, get over it. I'm not moved by the overblown and hysterical outrage expressed by many on that thread accusing Ben Cannon of "linking brewers with drug addiction and child abuse," and "calling brewers to account for creating child abusers," as Mr. Alworth huffed in several comments.

    Mr. Cannon clearly stated that his "intent was (and always has been) to use this proposed revenue increase to have a conversation about dedicating funding to substance abuse prevention and treatment."

    Even then, Mr. Alworth petulantly insisted "I don't see any other way to read that," unwilling to back down from his original, hyperbolic condemnations:

    "The one thing left to conclude is that this is some kind of moral stand against beer, an intentional effort to damage the industry. Sinners taxed to reduce the sin, not its cost. I can't see any other purpose here."

    I see this as an emotional ploy to distract from the real issues here - like something straight out of the Republican play book. And apparently, it works, since it seems to be sticking in your craw, even now.

    As a smoker, I've been insulted and demonized countless times. As I said before, get over it.

    Finally, you write: "the amounts actually proposed would have been consequential to commerce." With all due respect, says who? Even Mr. Alworth states that this is nothing but pure conjecture, and that taxes don't appear to influence consumption. Why do you assume this is a given?

  • (Show?)

    The UK and other European nations have already solved this: there is a line etched onto the glass at the designated volume. This is so simple. Iit just requires bars to buy calibrated glasses, which probably won't cost any more than ones without it.

  • Bartender (unverified)

    Oh, I see. Nothing I say has any credibility because I choose to remain anonymous. Great comeback. Hey dude,(and BTW, MISTER Alworth, I'm not a dude) I'm following the rules of your blog which state that remaining anonymous is OK as long as you use the same pseudonym.

    And because I dare to defy and question you, I'm "[a] concern troll ... a false flag* pseudonym created by a user whose actual point of view is opposed to the one that the user's sockpuppet claims to hold"???

    [*According to the link, "False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to deceive the public in such a way that the operations appear as though they are being carried out by other entities."]

    Nice try. Ad hominem attacks are a great way to avoid the issue and demonstrate how weak your position really is. If you can't address the argument intelligently, by all means attack the credibility of those you oppose.

    So I guess I should be flattered. Apparently, my arguments and/or writing skills are good enough to have been done by a professional lobbyist. Maybe I've missed my calling and am wasting all this subversive talent tending bar.

    No, DUDE. If you want to search your archives, you'll see by my many previous comments here (mostly on issues relating to bars) that I'm a single mom in my late 40's living in Clackamas County who's been in this business for over 20 years. Investigate my IP address, (I know you can), if you think I'm lying.

  • Bartender (unverified)

    Oh, and...

    Neglecting to post here on BlueOregon the information that you did on Beervana that refutes many of the claims and arguments you and others made here, is NOT being transparent. In my opinion, it is disingenuous.

  • Bartender (unverified)

    "The Honest Pint bill won't cost anyone a dime. Well, it will cost something to print decals, but that's it."

    So will the Department of Human Services just go out to all the thousands of bars in the state, free of charge, to measure everyone's glasses? And will they do this just once and call it good, or will bars have to be "re-certified" at some point - as are other things (like gas) that have to do with weights and measures? What's to stop a bar from getting certified, then switching up to a smaller glass? Is there any provision for enforcing this legislation?

    And, I would assume there'd have to be some sort of record keeping involved. And since this involves not one, but two state agencies (DHS and the OLCC) it would stand to reason that there'd have to be two sets of records and coordination between the two departments, no?

    And this all happens for free?

  • Jiang (unverified)

    Using DHS is irrational. Not only would that cost more, much more, Bartender, but I made some calls and I can tell you that it is there specifically as a DHS gimmee. I can also tell you firsthand, that there are no linkages between the two orgs and all that would have to be built from scratch. Having DHS do "compliance buys" is crazy in and of itself. I currently have a formal complaint before the Dept of Agriculture, alleging that DHS has committed fraud in the past, executing compliance buys, and, specifically, that they contracted me to write software to commit that fraud. Get this straight people, if you care about your tax dollars 1/2 much as you claim to. Human Services is always second at DHS. Keeping and expanding head count and agency funding is job 1, thought 1, goal 1.

    Bartender, Z's ire- I get that firsthand to- is about people not knowing the difference between craft brew and alcohol. Granted, there's less difference every day, but that is a function of marketing. Any proposal that seriously addresses social ills must be about alcohol, not one modality of getting it (and with a 2% mild brown, mighty little of it). Why is industrial manufacture/consumption of alcohol not taxed? Why not look at refined sugar content by alcohol? High in both is just about getting drunk. And especially hypocritical, all those destination resorts that market getting drunk over spring break and the like. Anyone seriously talking of taxing the marketing dollars from tobacco and alcohol, not the sales? Of course not. Until what you propose makes rational sense- this is always mp's point- people don't want any interference. That isn't whining, and it doesn't mean they won't contribute. It means they have no faith that gov can get anything right, specifically, because the people that run it are always more interested in shuck and jive and personal gratification to the expense of getting the job done at all.

    Ignore the dithering about identity. The blog is exploring options for an alternative, until then it was their choice. The complaints come 90% of the time from regular contributors, saying, "why do you need to be anonymous, I'm not". Duh, you can't contribute anonymously. Why would you be? On the thead that talked about this a few months back, at least 4 of BO's best bloggers said they couldn't do it if it wasn't anonymous. If you look at it by the numbers, there's no relationship between giving an identity and the content. For real. Besides, you don't know that posts with names are real names either. Anyone that's here to hear what personality has to say can find a lot better on the 'net. Come here for the content. If that flies, I don't care if a virtual traffic controller in a Moscow sewer posted it.

    Bottom line, this blog needs people like bartender, YOMB, mp, and someone that said on some other thread "this is why I stopped posting". It's the difference between debate and publicly working out a position statement.

  • Dil Mirch (unverified)

    I guess I wanted to say directly, too, that bartender is 100% right about the hypocrisy. Some of us went the other way, which allows us to diss this tax, and didn't support the other. Quite correct are you, real progressives NEVER have thought taxing addicts was good policy and, well, the ignorance tax is just ignorant.

    That's the lottery for all of you that pay it. I agree about "when they get it right we'll talk" and "better things to tax". Everybody just replaced their analog TVs so they can be spoon fed crap by con artists. That just would never have occured to anyone to be an effective, progressive and appropriate revenue source, would it? Be honest, if you have to tax sources, you get equal revenue and one affects less people, which do you tax? That's what parties do. A progressive would tax the majority. OK, Dem party faithful, all together in unison, "that's the dumbest idea I've ever heard". Yeah, well that's how belonging to a party so you know what you think sounds to me.

  • Ashma Sultan (unverified)

    Posted by: Eric Parker | Mar 12, 2009 11:55:41 AM Besides, you all shouldn't be drinking any alcohol in the first place. Just because it's there does not entitle you to drink it.

    Alcohol <> beer, dumb shit! Anyone want to argue that you don't still pay daily for prohibition?!? Henry Ford wanted to own workers when they were off the job and 70 years later we've got some little dweeb repeating his war on drugs rhetoric. "Fuck how much of this society that stupidity has destroyed. I still believe it, that settles it." What a piece of work.

    Does it bother you that a fundamentalist muslim knows the difference and you don't? You have to be a Christian. I have to put up with you know what kind of krappy logic here, but I can still see a scaler heading toward teh hypocritical high ground of Christianity!

    I live in Karachi. Beer = alcohol came to my country with the Taliban. What are you bringing, Terry Parker?

  • Bartender (unverified)

    Thanks Jiang. (And you too, Dil Mirch.) I appreciate the validation and your thoughts on the way this honest pint legislation is implemented. Involving DHS seemed strange to me too, considering that they should have better things to do, like protecting abused children, the elderly, the poor and the handicapped; especially with the economy being the way it is. But hey, it's all worth it if Jeff gets his full pint of beer, I guess.

    As far as using a pseudonym goes, I was also going to mention that "you don't know that posts with names are real names either." I'm a nobody in the political scene and my name would mean nothing to anybody here. It's irrelevant. If I were to use a name, either my real one or a fake, how would that prove anything? Is Mr. Alworth going to investigate me, find out if I'm really who I say I am?

    Since he claims he doesn't "actually have the time to decode your fury about my position on the beer tax," even though it's plainly laid out for him in many rather verbose comments, I highly doubt it. This is just more fake, indignant bluster to avoid the real issues. I expected better here.

    Zarathustra - I'm one of those retailers who uses the term "domestic" in my signage to refer to non-micro brews, or "cheap, yellow, fizzy beer" (I agree!) as you put it, even though I know it's a misnomer. Saying "non-micro brews" seems clunky, and obviously I can't use your other description - apt as it may be - if I want to sell any and don't want to offend those who choose it. What term would you suggest we use? I'm open for suggestions.

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    As I wait for my homebrew water to heat, I'll clarify two things and then leave you to harp as you wish.

    Bartender, of course you can post anonymously. But when you go on a personal jihad against someone else ("dishonest and misleading") and hide behind a psuedonym, suffice it to say that everything you say is, in my mind, best greeted with suspicion. I get called all kinds of names by people who disagree with me, pretty much constantly. They know a great deal about me because I am willing to joing the public discourse transparently. You, on the other hand, may be a Mother Against Brewing Bloggers for all I know. So until you're willing to reveal a little about yourself, I'm not going to spend a lot of handwringing over your disappointment over my positions.

    And onto that disappointment. I take it this all comes down to supporting a cigarette tax and opposing a beer tax. This is not hypocritical. It's perfectly explicable. In my view, cigarettes, produced exclusively by non-Oregonians, cause a very direct, measurable cost to the health of Oregonians--both smokers and non. The state has a right to recoup those costs.

    No one has ever measured the effect of locally-brewed craft beer on the health of Oregonians. Whether the state has a right to recoup costs hasn't been established. Meanwhile, the current beer tax would directly hammer a lot of the local breweries.

    You don't have to agree with me, just knock off the personal attacks, willya?

    Oh, and of course I'm not going to repeat every argument I've made every time I comment on a piece of public policy. We're talking tens of thousands of words. That would be a great way to drive away all traffic from BlueO. But of course, it's all there, under my name, bait for people to spend hours quoting it back to me. That's the point of using my name. I'll stand behind my words.

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    "No one has ever measured the effect of locally-brewed craft beer on the health of Oregonians. Whether the state has a right to recoup costs hasn't been established. Meanwhile, the current beer tax would directly hammer a lot of the local breweries."

    Now this is a bit disingenuous, Jeff. You know from the tobacco tax discussions that Oregon pays almost three times as much in public health costs, from figures that Chuck Butcher produced. What percentage is traceable to local craft beer is a ponderous exercise; do we worry less, taxationally, about low-tar cigarettes or menthols?

    And the state pretty well HAS established the right to recoup costs--or at least the right to tax craft beer. Various powerful lobbies have kept the price absurdly low, but the tax exists.

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    It's not disingenuous at all. A proposal I would suggest is to raise the beer tax to the level of our neighbors and exempt the first 100,000 barrels from the increase (everyone would still pay the current excise tax). That would protect local brewers. Of course, this isn't good enough for most folks, who want every dime, no matter how bad it would damage our local industry.

    Damage caused by cigarettes is well-known and quantifiable. Not so beer. We have a vague sense of the cost of alcohol (though the benefits are never calculated as offsets), but not beer. And yet here we are, proposing a tax not only on one segment of alcohol, but on one subset of that segment--breweries. So it's perfectly reasonable to respond: if you want to recoup costs, tell me what they are.

  • Bartender (unverified)

    Mr. Alworth -

    So questioning your position, as well as what I feel are repeated instances (in just the last few days) of your hypocrisy and convenient double standards, are a personal jihad? Sorry, but if you put it out there, you better be thick skinned enough to take some criticism. The rest of us surely do. You can certainly dish it out, but you can't take it. At least not from me, a lowly bartender with no cajones (as you so respectfully stated earlier), anyway.

    And, are you saying that if I used my real name, that my criticism would NOT be greeted with suspicion? Somehow I doubt that. And on the flip side, if I agreed with you wholeheartedly on every topic, would you still dismiss me because I use a pseudonym? Again, I doubt it. There's that old double standard I was talking about earlier.

    Mr. Alworth, how can you equate using a pseudonym, with withholding or otherwise obfuscating information you knew would refute your own (and other's) unproven and even outright false claims in order to argue your case against the beer tax? Maintaining my privacy (as is allowed here, I might add) is NOT the same as lying or hiding the truth about policy and issues.

    Do you feel that just because you've disclosed your agenda as a beer lover, it gives you the right to dishonestly pitch your cause? Because I don't. You are influencing the politics of the debate (as you say), and I expect all you movers and shakers to at least be honest and forthcoming. I don't think I (or anyone else) should have to check your beer blog (which I didn't even know existed, and never would have found, until this post) to get the whole story from you. No one is asking you to repeat every argument you've made every time you comment on a piece of public policy. "Repeat" being the key word here. I'd simply like to hear it once in the venue in which YOU broached it, without spending hours searching the web for obscure little blogs like Beervana.

    And, HELLO! I HAVE already revealed a little about myself. I'm a 40-something, single mom and long-time bartender. Did you miss that, or just conveniently choose to ignore it? (Geez, this is getting old.) What else do you want? Do I have to disclose my address, the name of my employer, all my social and political affiliations, my next of kin, and my credit rating too, to be worthy enough to debate with you? Would you just write me off and ignore my comments (as you have until very recently) if I WERE a Mother Against Brewing Bloggers?

    And gee, Jeff, all my comments are also all there, under my pseudonym, readily available to anyone who wants to quote them back to me, too. You don't need to use your own name in order to stand behind your words.

    Enough already. As Jiang noted, the policy on using pseudonyms here was, and still is, your choice. I am following it. Stop using it as a lame excuse for dismissing me.

    You oppose the beer tax, in part, because it's a tax that allegedly "pays for things explicitly unrelated to the activity." I'm still at a loss as to how beer drinking is not related to alcohol treatment. The bit about all micro brew drinkers never having any drinking related problems just doesn't fly with me. First of all, common sense and experience should tell you that when you use words like ALL and NEVER, you're usually wrong. Second, I've been doing this for over 20 years now, and I KNOW differently. I personally have known alcoholics whose preferred drink of choice is micro brew. They just have more money than the "piss" beer drinking alcoholics.

    But because no one has ever studied and quantified it, it must not be true, right? Funny how you require scientifically quantified data to justify this part of the policy, yet are willing to use conjecture and supposition on its effects to the local brewery industry to oppose it. Just another double standard, I guess.

    And yet you claim that a cigarette tax is great, because IN YOUR VIEW, cigarettes, "cause a very direct, measurable cost to the health" of ALL Oregonians, even kids and non-smokers. Well, you're welcome to your view, but could you please explain to me how my smoking affects you or your kids' health? Since I've never even met you, you'd be hard pressed to show any direct (or indirect, for that matter) correlation between my smoking and your health.

    Sorry, Mr. Alworth, but in MY VIEW (and apparently, at least a few others here), your differing views on the beer and cig taxes are hypocritical. And, I can't help but think, self-serving.

    Look, my agenda here is as a liberal who's sick to death of politicians and others in power twisting and subverting the political process to their own ends. In the past 8 years, that has meant my anger and frustration has been directed at Republicans. Now that Dems are in power, I'm not about to give them a pass on the same things just because it's my party. That's hypocritical. I expect transparency, honesty, and a willingness to forgo personal needs and desires in order to further the public good. Change we can believe in, remember?

    When people like Jeff, who does indeed influence public policy, take a position that could be construed as: I don't smoke, so tax the shit out of it for whatever reason you think will fly, but golly, I love my micro brew so stay the hell away from taxing beer, I get pissed.

    When people like Jeff deceptively pitch their arguments in a public political forum like BlueOregon - which to my knowledge is the most popular and widely-read liberal blog in Oregon - I think it's wrong.

    Sorry if you feel that's a personal attack Jeff. But you put yourself out there (along with Kari) as the creators, administrators, and figure heads of this blog - it's leaders, if you will. You control the content, and make the rules here. You are not only responsible for what appears here in the posts, but for your own words as well. I'm sorry if it's uncomfortable having someone single you out for criticism, I understand that. But perhaps you could use that criticism in a constructive manner and work on being more open to opposing views (at least by those who share similar ideology) as well as reducing the ad hominem attacks and other methods of clouding the issues (like labeling me as some sock-puppet troll, and dismissing me for not using my real name).

    Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. I've been reading yours here for years now. But is it too much to ask that we set aside our own agendas and bring more consistency, integrity, and openness to the debate and the whole political process, now that we've got the power?

    Maybe I'm just too naive.

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    Jeff, I've got no problem with a 100,000 barrel floor, or a specific Oregon craft brewers' exemption, tied to a purity certification like the reinheitsgebot and commitment to serving honest pints. But there's no reason to place the tax arbitraily low.

    Beer is alcohol. Alcohol has a high public cost. That's a pretty reasonable connection to make.

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    Jeff, I've got no problem with a 100,000 barrel floor,

    See, reasonable people can find agreement on this one...

  • Cafe Today (unverified)

    And yet here we are, proposing a tax not only on one segment of alcohol, but on one subset of that segment--breweries.

    Jeff, let's get real for a second. The excise tax is levied on breweries AND distributors. Since distributors pay the tax for importing out-of-state beer (Miller, Bud, Coors, etc.), and since out-of-state beer is roughly 85% of the market in Oregon, distributors pay roughly 85% of the total tax.

    I am pretty sure you know this, but I'm not sure why you keep framing it in such a misleading way.

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    Cafe Today, I didn't know that, and I'm not sure it's correct. It's possible the distributors are somehow involved in the collection as a pass-through, but the excise tax is of the breweries. I've never heard any suggestion the distributors are themselves taxed. Do you have a source?

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Zarathustra - I'm one of those retailers who uses the term "domestic" in my signage to refer to non-micro brews, or "cheap, yellow, fizzy beer" (I agree!) as you put it, even though I know it's a misnomer. Saying "non-micro brews" seems clunky, and obviously I can't use your other description - apt as it may be - if I want to sell any and don't want to offend those who choose it. What term would you suggest we use? I'm open for suggestions.

    Got me. We can't just use "domestic" properly? I understand what you mean, though. My history teacher- from St. Louis- would have just called it Panther Piss. You have to imagine an octogenarian Franciscan priest using it as a matter of course. ("The Illinois and the Missouri are two of the dirtiest rivers in the world. They combine in the colon of the nation, the Mississippi. Augie Bush says there's no water like it in the world. They run it through Clydesdales, bottle it, and you all sit around sucking on that Panther Piss every night").

    Here's a point you and Jeff can get together on. Jeff, can you imagine the malted grains section at Steinbart's using domestic and imported in the usual sense, except for organic, domestic grain, which is "imported"? I understand the quandry for bartender. What I've never understood is why beer drinkers don't care!

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the proposal (though not the DHS bit), but it seems a little odd, in one sense. Weights and measurements standards assume that the consumer is losing out. Now, at least every bar I've been to in the last five years, will give you free 1-2 oz samples to help you decide. Isn't that enough to ensure that each "pint" is? I guess the logic falls down if you have a number of them. Also, there's an interesting bit in the proposal, the "under standard conditions" phrase. Temperature and pressure can be standard, but carbonation level isn't. We're talking about volume, not mass. Don't pints vary by more than the variance in the glasses, due to differential carbonation? Surely, brewers have had the experience of pooring an overcarbonated brew into a glass and the head going down to reveal about an inches beer in the bottom. The proposal should, imhe, have wording to specify that the measure is taken on flat beer and ale.

    The best argument for it is shot glasses. Can you imagine them being different sizes? Of course the simple solution is the bottle.

    torrid, if we ever meet up, I'll brew you a whole five gallons of my mild brown, just for you, and I dare you to get drunk. The Netherlands and France sell a lot of this (evenmietbier), but it is still subject to every single law that a bottle of wine is. Seriously, I'll put it on a table and you can get under the spigot and drink away and see how wasted you can get. Or dehydrated. There actually is a point at which you get more liquid than you lose from the detox process, between 1.5% and 2.3%, and below, depending on the person. 2.3% is still 1/3 weaker than much maligned 3.2 beer. My 2.5 has been the only thing I've drunk for the last 25 years. I used to have a Delftware tile over the sink of a Dutch boy peeing into a stream, with the caption, "never drink water". Last I saw, it was hanging in a DEQ office. Really. Should have kept it though.

    My brown ale is not and never could be associated with social ills. It's also insulting to reduce one to the other. I don't eat refined sugar. If you didn't know and baked me a cake, and I simply said, "I don't eat sugar", that would be pretty insulting, no? What you made is a lot more than sugar. As noted, we are the only people in the world that think that way, and we never did until prohibition.

    If someone is reading this and wants to learn to see beer and ale as food, not alcohol, I've an easy method. Drink it at room temperature. "That'll taste nasty". Exactly. Mine doesn't, though. That's why you drink yours cold; so you can't taste it. I'm not telling you what kind of beer and ale you should like. I'm saying that if you dislike it at room temperature, then you dislike it. And please, it's "room temperature, not "warm beer". If you live in Louisiana, that would be "warm beer". In Oregon the ideal 50-60F serving temp. for ale, ain't far off. Below 40, you can't taste the hops, malt, etc.

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    Just to be clear, this is an OPTIONAL program businesses can use to pay the state to certify the pours. So it only costs those bars who find a benefit of being state-certified honest pints.

    Presumably that would be a small cost, which would be outweighed by the benefits.

    As far as which agency does it, it makes the most sense to have DHS as they're already there certifying the restaurants for safety.

  • Cafe Today (unverified)


    Read the ORS for the current excise tax: http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/473.html

      473.030 Tax on wines and malt beverages. (1) A tax is imposed upon the privilege of engaging in business as a manufacturer <b> or as an importing distributor</b> of malt beverages at the rate of $2.60 per barrel of 31 gallons on all such beverages.


      (6) The taxes imposed by this section shall be measured by the volume of wine or malt beverages produced, purchased <b>or received by any manufacturer. </b> If the wine or malt beverage remains unsold and in the possession of the producer at the plant where it was produced, no tax imposed or levied by this section is required to be paid until the wine or malt beverage has become sufficiently aged for marketing at retail, but this subsection shall not be construed so as to alter or affect any provision of this chapter relating to tax liens or the filing of statements. [Amended by 1974 c.4 §9; 1975 c.424 §3; 1977 c.856 §19; 1983 c.651 §9; 1987 c.608 §3; 1995 c.301 §23; 1997 c.249 §176; 1999 c.351 §79; 2003 c.797 §22]

    Then read the the bill: http://www.leg.state.or.us/09reg/measpdf/hb2400.dir/hb2461.intro.pdf

    ...a manufacturer or an importing distributor of malt beverages shall be subject to a prevention, treatment and recovery tax of $49.61 per barrel of 31 gallons of malt beverage.

    We do not impose a tax on out-of-state breweries; the distributors pay the tax when they bring the beer into the state.

    I can't help but note how funny I find it that you have been crusading against this tax without actually understanding how it's collected or who pays it. Come on, Jeff. Do your own research.

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    Cafe, you're mistaken. "imported" does not mean from St. Louis, it means Munich. Were talking about a tiny percent of the beer. I'm not sure why you're so pissed, either. I've always been very clear that my concern is local breweries. Even if your point had been accurate, it wouldn't change a single argument.

  • Cafe Today (unverified)

    Jeff: Call somebody at the OLCC and ask them what "imported" means. I assure you that it includes both Munich and St. Louis, and any other city in the world that is not in Oregon. Also ask them who pays the bulk of the current beer tax--brewers, or distributors.

    Don't tell me that I'm mistaken before checking into this further. You are wrong. I can't say it any more simply than that.

  • (Show?)

    Cafe Today... are you affiliated with the ownership of the cafe in the state capitol? Or is your moniker simply a statement of your physical location or personal affinity for the restaurant?

  • Susan Strohm (unverified)

    Posted by: Jiang | Mar 14, 2009 1:55:33 PM

    Using DHS is irrational. Not only would that cost more, much more, Bartender, but I made some calls and I can tell you that it is there specifically as a DHS gimmee

    Jiang is a disgruntled employee, by the DHS definition. One determines that from tone, not content. It is our policy to not review or engage in debate with disgruntled individuals. As such, his claims cannot be reviewed.

    It is worth noting, for those that would work in Salem, that the law prohibiting blacklisting, only applies to union related activities. We keep other "lists", and if you are regarded as "disgruntled", you can save your time applying for other State jobs.


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