Session #61: Local Beer Is Better (except when it isn’t)

This month’s installment of the Session is hosted by Matt at the Hoosier Beer Geek and the topic is “What makes local beer better?” This is a complex question that presupposes the answer to a preceding, unasked question. So, to be a pain in the ass, maybe I will address that question: Is local beer better?

I have a soft spot for small businesses, particularly local ones. This certainly isn’t ground-breaking. I am sure most people want to see their community flourish. However, any time I hear the term “locavore”, it makes me want to punch kittens. And I have always found the convenient location of the most ardent “local” movements to be quite interesting. Likewise, I find it telling that Google searches for “locavore Gary, IN” and “locavore El Centro, CA” return no useful results.

So, how does my fridge stack-up from a local standpoint? I currently have Grand Rapids, MI, Fort Collins, CO, and San Francisco and Chico, CA, none of which are remotely close to the DC Metro area.

However, I’m a tax attorney. So perhaps I just need to find a loophole…

I draft Federal tax legislation for a living. Therefore, I can think of no better place to define local than under Federal statutory law. Under section 310B(g)(9) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (7 U.S.C. 1932(g)(9)) the beer would have to be produced and distributed in the State (in my case, Virginia) or so that the total distance that the product is transported is less than 400 miles from the origin of the product.* Maybe I can find some cover here.

Beer is distributed as the crow flies, right?

Dammit, the US is crazy big. There is hope for my local soul, though. After Sierra Nevada and maybe New Belgium start production in Asheville, NC, and begin flying beer directly to my house, my fridge would qualify today (as long as they don’t set up shop too far South or West of Asheville).

Joking aside, DC-area beer has improved quite a bit since I arrived in the area. Port City’s Porter is insane, and their Wit is pretty solid. DC Brau makes some good beers, too. (I am also looking forward to 3 Stars.) Sometimes they are in my fridge, but they can’t scratch all my itches. Further, the radius map above does include some pretty serious beers: Flying Dog, Dogfish Head, Southern Tier, Stillwater (sometimes), to name a few. But even they can’t scratch all my itches.

Therefore, although local beer makes me feel warm and fuzzy, I must conclude that: Local beer is better, except when it isn’t.

Profound, I know. Go in peace.

*I should note that I don’t think the above law actually applies to beer (I think it just applies to “agricultural food products”), hence I would argue the above cited Federal law is merely persuasive authority (posited as part of a joke on a beer-humor blog).

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3 thoughts on “Session #61: Local Beer Is Better (except when it isn’t)

  1. People seem to over look a logical paradox when addressing this situation.
    If we assume that local beer is better. We must accept that all beer is local to someone.
    Therefore, all beer is local beer. Therefore, all beer is better.
    Since all beer can not be better, we are left with a paradox.
    And I don’t even want to dive into the issues of local beer being better where it concerns those unfortunate enough to live in the shadow of a Budweiser plant.

  2. My heart is dismayed…how could you not bring Cap City Brewing into this discussion? Everyone of there beers is better than at least one other beer on this planet…even if they all taste the same.

    • Cap City might have supported my thesis. Although they do sometimes crank out some decent seasonal/specialty beers. I like their “Fuel” coffee stout. It’s almost like a jacked-up Terrapin Wake ‘n Bake.

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