The Beverage Journal Blog

This is a place to read articles found in the Maryland and Washington DC Beverage Journals as well as thoughts on current issues from our staff. If you would like to be a registered BJ Blogger, contact Stephen Patten.

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A BEVERAGE BIZ Look Ahead at the 2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Posted by Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing dutie
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on Wednesday, 18 December 2013
in January 2014 Editions


The next General Assembly Session is scheduled to re-convene in January, marking the last year of the current four-year election cycle in Maryland.  That means all 188 legislative seats in the General Assembly -- along with the Offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller, and Attorney General -- are up for election.  In addition, for the first time in the state's history, the primary election will be held in June just 60 days after the Session's conclusion.

For beverage industry interests, this politically charged time represents an opportunity to become even more actively engaged than they have in the past.  The Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA), in particular, has no plans to sit idly by.  MSLBA President David Marberger comments, "It's not really politics.  You're just talking facts.  You're saying, 'These are things that I experience.  These are things I face.  These are challenges that we have to overcome.'  And these are challenges that your local politician may not be aware of.  At some point in time, there has to be a give and take.  If you want your politicians to listen to you, you have to listen to him."

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Bill Burrill Maintains His Prestige at Republic National

Posted by Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing dutie
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 18 December 2013
in January 2014 Editions

"It is a industry that is endlessly exciting because it is ever-changing and no two days are the same.  I've been in this business 37 years, and I bet I am going to learn something new today about the business that I didn't know yesterday!"

The industry Bill Burrill is speaking of is, of course, our beloved beverage biz.  And Burrill indeed speaks from nearly four decades of experience.  He started right out of college in June 1977.  Early on, this University of Baltimore graduate worked for Carlton Importing.  "When I was there," he recalled, "it was owned by McKesson.  Back then, McKesson was the largest wine and spirits distributor in the country and they also owned suppliers. So, I got some experience on the supplier side.  But after two years, I came back to the wholesaler side and have been in it ever since.  I've represented pretty much every major supplier, every major winery, and every major importer as well as many smaller ones.  I've worked in mostly Maryland, but also in South Carolina, Boston, and upstate New York. I've always been transferred back here. I'm like that bad penny. I keep turning back up!"

Today, he is manager of Republic National Distributing Co.'s Chesapeake Division, which encompasses off-premise accounts throughout the entire state of Maryland.  In that post, he represents such major suppliers as Pernod Ricard, Heineken, and Bombay Imports, among others.  He was brought aboard RNDC earlier this year after selling his interest in the Prestige Beverage Group.

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American Whiskeys Trending UPWARDS

Posted by Robert Plotkin
Robert Plotkin
Roberto is a judge at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and author of
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on Wednesday, 18 December 2013
in January 2014 Editions

The 5 Trends Sending American Whiskeys Upward

As the adage goes, people drink in good economic times and bad. It seems especially true for the American whiskey category, which according to Beverage Information Group grew an impressive 3 percent to 15.7 million 9-liter cases. Prosperity will eventually return, but the question remains, will American whiskeys continue to successfully compete with elder statesmen Irish and Scotch on the world stage?

“We’re excited about the growth potential for the American whiskey category,” says Chris Bauder, GM of U.S. Whiskies at Beam Global. “Consumers continue looking to expand their spirits repertoire, and with all of the bourbon innovations we are seeing, they are discovering the fantastic quality, versatility and different tastes available within the category. There is a level of pride among the category’s pioneers, including Bill Samuels and Fred Noe, in the fact that their products stand up to Scotch and Irish whiskies in the minds of consumers and that this uniquely American spirit is getting unprecedented demand from whiskey drinkers across the world.”

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Alt Whiskey Goes Mainstream

Posted by Beverage Network
Beverage Network
The Beverage Network publications have been providing beverage alcohol licensees
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on Wednesday, 18 December 2013
in January 2014 Editions

American Distillers Large & Small Are Fueling a Whiskey Revolution

By Jack Robertiello

Behind the bar at The Square One Brewery and Distillery restaurant in St. Louis, pride of place is given to the beers and spirits that are made on-site. Among the spirits, there’s an expected array of new distiller wares—gins, rums, vodka and the like—as well as whiskies that put a twist in the tail of the traditional styles consumers expect. Here, customers can order tasting flights that include J.J. Neukomm Whiskey (made with cherry wood smoked malt and aged in Missouri-made oak barrels) and Hopskey (the house’s hop-infused whiskey, grainy with a pleasant aromatic hoppiness).

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Make it a Beer Vacation in 2014

Posted by Alan Horton
Alan Horton
Al Horton retired after 27 years with Bob Hall LLC, a beer distributor in Upper
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on Wednesday, 18 December 2013
in January 2014 Editions

Do you need to get away? Are you tired of vacationing in the same place year after year?  If you answered yes to these questions, maybe your first resolution for the New Year should be to plan something new, fun and completely different - so, why not take a beer vacation?  A beer vacation can take you to some never before visited place like Belgium with its unending variety of beer styles, or it might be an adventure closer to home visiting local microbreweries within a day or weekend’s drive.  In either case, the options for a beer vacation are almost limitless.

Vacations are tonic for the soul.  They provide us a mental break from the everyday routine of life. They refresh and recharge us so that we return more energetic and renewed about our lives and our jobs. They can be used as learning experiences or simply as a way to relax. The nice thing about taking a beer vacation is you can do it with family, with friends or all by yourself.  The only rule is there is no rule.

If vacations are meant to fun, then a beer vacation should be a hoot and a really cool thing to do. There are new places to visit and new things to see along the way, while having the opportunity to stop and savor new unfamiliar brews.  And, as beer drinking is a social event, meeting new people may turn out to be the most fun and rewarding part of all. 

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The Second Coming of Pisco

Posted by Robert Plotkin
Robert Plotkin
Roberto is a judge at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and author of
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on Tuesday, 19 November 2013
in December 2013 Editions

ThPisco.jpg - 44.78 KBe ongoing cocktail renaissance has propelled pisco into the limelight and onto American backbars. Bartenders on both coasts have come to appreciate its unrivaled mixability and universally appealing character. All of our futures should be so bright.

Interestingly enough, this is not the first time that pisco has made it big in the States. During the California Gold Rush, miners from South America streamed into San Francisco bringing with them ample stock of Peru’s native spirit. Its popularity with the locals gave rise to such classics as the Pisco Sour and Pisco Punch. The brandy’s run came to an end with the onset of Prohibition when it all but disappeared in the States.

Celebrated mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler believes pisco stands a great chance of cracking into the American market. “I’ve been working with pisco for several years now and the thing I really enjoy most about using pisco in cocktails is the beautiful floral bouquet of the muscat grape. I often use pisco in variations of the traditional sour formula, but it also works beautifully in spirit-driven cocktails.”

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RAM's Laura Kimmel: From Receptionist to Director of Membership

Posted by Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing dutie
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 19 November 2013
in December 2013 Editions

NLauraKimmel.jpg - 205.28 KBot long after graduating from Virginia Tech University with a degree in Public Relations, Laura Kimmel found work as a receptionist at the Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM).  That was seven years ago.  Today, she is the association's Director of Membership and Marketing, a position she has held since 2010.

"This will be my seventh year here," she stated, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "I've grown a lot, I've learned a lot, and I have worn many different hats here from logistics coordinator of our 10,000-person Expo to planning our 700-person awards gala to now managing and directing membership and marketing."

Her duties and responsibilities are many.  Chiefly, though, her job is to make sure RAM is getting its message out to Maryland restaurants that the association is there to help them succeed.  "We also work to let the dining public know that Maryland restaurants are great and that there are many to choose from. "

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Smithsonian Honors When Prohibition Came and Wente

Posted by Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Edward "Teddy" Durgin
Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing dutie
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 19 November 2013
in December 2013 Editions

In late October, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., commemorated the 80th anniversary of ProhProhibition.jpg - 267.53 KBibition's repeal by inviting the proprietors and representatives of several historic wineries to town.  Among them was Christine Wente, a board member of Wente Family Estates in California's Livermore Valley.  During an interview with the Beverage Journal, Wente remarked, "Prohibition is significant for us because we were one of the few wineries that continued to operate during that era.  In addition to branching out into cattle ranching and olive farming, we sold sacramental wines to the Catholic Church through a contract with Beaulieu Vineyard. The Church would hold two or three masses a day back then, so they needed a lot of wine. As a result, we were able to come out of Prohibition strong and able to make some great advances in the 1930s, including being the first winery in California to varietally label Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc." 

She continued, "It was an amazing time. Wineries were allowed to ship crates of grapes to home winemakers.  But they would have to put notes on the top of crates that said: 'Caution! Don't add yeast or grapes will ferment into wine!'"

During her presentation, Wente shared with the Smithsonian the three main factors that have contributed to the success of the business.  Number one has been the family's continual search for consistency and quality "and never believing you have achieved it."  Second, she spoke of the passion that has grown up through the generations of her family.

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Maryland’s Multi-Billion Dollar Impact

Posted by Stephen Patten
Stephen Patten
Steve is the Publisher of the Maryland & Washington, DC Beverage Journals (trade
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on Tuesday, 19 November 2013
in December 2013 Editions

Eighty years ago Maryland approved ratification of the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ultimately repealing the 18th Amendment and ending Prohibition. Today, Maryland’s wine and spirits industry supports a multi-million dollar economy, employs thousands of workers, and provides millions of dollars in tax revenue to the state and federal governments.

Marking the 80 year milestone, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) released a detailed economic snapshot of the industry’s impact in Maryland that I found very interesting (as well as important).

The wine and spirits industry supports 17,340 direct jobs in Maryland, which includes more than 1,270 workers at wholesalers. The total economic impact of the industry in the state is $2.9 billion, according to an economic analysis released by WSWA and prepared by New York-based John Dunham & Associates.

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Protect Your Livelihood, Get Involved

Posted by Stephen Patten
Stephen Patten
Steve is the Publisher of the Maryland & Washington, DC Beverage Journals (trade
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 13 November 2013
in Uncategorized

November 2013 … the Maryland 2014 Legislative session is just around the corner.  There is no doubt that chain store legislation will again be introduced.  This is a dangerous prospect to the independent beer, wine and liquor store.  It is in you and your business’ best interest to get involved and be prepared to defend your position to your state representatives.  Many of you are involved and are familiar with the process of protecting your business from harmful proposed legislation.  Below is a quick ‘How To’ for everyone else…

First, you need to know what proposed legislation is coming down the pipe and how it would affect your business.  The Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA) was formed, in part, because the association's leaders understood that actions in the Maryland State House directly impact the operations of your businesses.  The MSLBA tracks proposed legislation that will have an effect on its members’ livelihoods.  They do this right at their web site, www.mslba.org.  

Next, you will need to know who your elected officials are.  There is a very quick and easy way to find out … go to http://mdelect.net and type in your address.  Make note of who your State Senator and State Delegates are.  

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