Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

More “Banned in Bama” beverages, aka The Alabama brew hah-hah

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, May 27, 2012

That title is supposed to cute. So laugh!

Here’s the deal: It seems the brilliant intellectually challenged folk in Montgomery seem to think that the word BASTARD is somehow bad.

Fat Bastard wines -Bottle-Lineup-3a-393

Fat Bastard winesCabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay & Chardonnay-based Blends, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc & Sauvignon Blanc-based Blends

Recall that “bastard” can have several meanings. One, is as it applies to a type of milled file. Two, is as it applies to the child born to an unwed mother. And there certainly seems to be no shortage of those these days. Of course, it’s not the child’s fault, but words describe things, and like it or not, a child of an unwed mother is a bastard.

I guess next up, they’ll have to remove the French Fat Bastard wine, too. It’s been sold in Alabama for quite some time.

Cycles Gladiator wine poster1

Cycles Gladiator wine label, an 1895 poster promoting the Gladiator brand bicycle.

Of course, the astute readers will recall the last international fiasco with the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board with the Cycles Gladiator wine.

The Hahn Family Wines company had to create an entirely different label specifically for Cycles Gladiator wine to be sold in the state. The label was an historic poster from 1895 – and that same year printer G. Massias unveiled one of the great Parisian art posters showcasing the stylish Gladiator bicycle.

Naturally, news of the rancorous decision by Alabama’a ABC drove sales for the wine through the roof, at home, and abroad.

However, I sincerely doubt it’s any complex marketing ploy.

Alabama won’t allow Founders Brewing Co.’s award-winning ‘Dirty Bastard’ ale on state shelves

Published: Friday, April 13, 2012, 12:40 PM     Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2012, 8:12 PM

Update: Beverage control board says brewery can appeal

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — As Michigan craft brewers continue to expand their distribution footprint across the country, Founders Brewing Co. is running into some roadblocks in the South.

The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is refusing to register two of Founders’ beers after the regulatory agency objected to the word ‘bastard’ on the labels.

“It’s one of those silly things,” said Dave Engbers, Founders vice president.

The Alabama board is objecting to the name of Founders “Dirty Bastard” scotch-style ale, one of the brewery’s flagship beers, which is distributed year-round. The board is also holding up the sale of a specialty bourbon barrel-aged ale, “Backwoods Bastard,” which is distributed in October.

Dirty Bastard beer banned in Bama 10832452-standard

Another “Banned in Bama” beverage: The state of Alabama has banned some beers with what it deems inappropriate labeling from being on store shelves there. This includes the “Dirty Bastard” bottles brewed by Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids. (Chris Clark | Mlive.com) Founders’ Dirty Bastard beer banned in Alabama

Dirty Bastard is the brewery’s second-best selling brand behind their Centennial IPA, and is actually in first place in some markets, said Engbers.

The state regulators are reportedly rooting their decision in the control board’s administrative code, which states that labels are prohibited if they don’t meet state standards for beverage advertising.

“The ABC Board may exercise its discretion to prohibit advertising it considers objectionable,” reads the code. Enforcement officers with the state control board deferred comment to the agency attorneys, who did not return calls.

Engbers said Founders is trying to work through their wholesale distributor’s connections in Alabama before taking other steps.

“We are trying to go through the right avenues,” he said. “If we make a big stink about it, it can blow up in our face… A ripple can turn into a hurricane.”

At the same time, “you can drink it in 19 other states,” he said. “This is hindering our ability to go to market. We want to take care of it as soon as possible.”

Engbers said the brewery is objecting on First Amendment grounds. The state of Michigan relented on a similar fight last summer, when they allowed Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick, Md., to promote and sell a popular India pale ale called “Raging Bitch” in Michigan. Flying Dog had sued the state in federal district court.

The state allowed the beer after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 2007 Vermont law that prevented pharmacies from selling prescription information for drug marketing purposes. The Sorrell v. IMS Health decision found that states cannot engage in “content-based discrimination.”

Beer blogs in Alabama have been critical of the control board’s decision, pointing out that the “Fat Bastard” French wines are already sold in the state. Free The Hops, a nonprofit specialty beer advocacy organization, posted a statement on their website:

“The free market already has a solution for this supposed problem: retailers are free to choose not to stock beers with labels they think might offend their customers. But retailers patronized by responsible adults should have the option to stock any beer carried by local distributors, regardless of the beer’s name or label artwork.”

Engbers said he’s stopped being surprised anymore about how vocal and enthusiastic the beer community can be over Founders brews. The brewery recently vowed to triple their production of the uber-popular Kentucky Breakfast Stout after some beer lovers left a tasting event at the brewery’s Grandville Ave SW taproom empty-handed.

Alabama is the first state that has objected to any of the company’s beer labels, said Engbers.

In March, Founders began distributing beer in Iowa, making it the 20th state where customers can purchase the brewery’s beer.

Dirty Bastard beer banned in Bama 10832450-standard

Another “Banned in Bama” beverage: The state of Alabama has banned some beers with what it deems inappropriate labeling from being on store shelves there. This includes the “Dirty Bastard” bottles brewed by Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids. (Chris Clark | Mlive.com) Founders’ Dirty Bastard beer banned in Alabama

“We’ll be going into a few new states coming up in the next couple months,” he said.

The brewery is nearly doubling their output this year, Engbers said. Founders is on track to brew 80,000 barrels in 2012, compared to 43,000 barrels in 2011. Total yield will be closer to the low 70,000 barrels range when all is said and done, he said.

The brewery is outpacing the industry growth as a whole, he said. The company recently announced a collaboration with Green Flash Brewing Co. of San Diego on a Linchpin White IPA, which marks Founders first collaboration brew.

The growth is being driven by the company’s year-round flagship beers, Centennial IPA, Red’s Rye IPA, Pale Ale, Porter and Dirty Bastard, Engbers said. They recently introduced a new year-round All Day IPA. The brewery recently installed a new 85-barrel brewhouse several months back, allowing them to brew higher volumes of their specialty beers like the Backwoods Bastard.

“We’re proud of our beer. We want to get it in everybody’s hands,” he said. In Alabama, “we’re walking lightly. But if we had Dirty Bastard available down there we’d be selling a lot more beer.”

“I’m confident we’ll get through this,” said Engbers. “All in good time.”

Email Garret Ellison or follow him on Twitter.


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