Throughout history, beer has been the drink of peasants while the upper classes and Gods have reveled in wine. Wine has enjoyed prestige while beer has often been seen as the poor man’s beverage. How many times have you heard “Champagne taste on a beer budget”? Is Washington beer being disparaged in comparison to Washington wine?
On Monday, the Washington State Legislature passed HB 1415 allowing the sale of Washington wine at the Legislative Gift Shop in Olympia. Despite a month of intense lobbying by the Washington Beer industry and beer lovers, Washington beer was not added to this bill. Despite the fact that Yakima Valley is the world’s largest producer of hops and the fact that there are over 70 breweries in Washington State, beer was excluded.
In response to this bill, Heather McClung, President of the Washington Brewer’s Guild, states “Among the craft beer sold in WA, Washington beer ranks fourth. This is no doubt, a contributing factor to people’s lack of knowledge regarding our reputation for creating great beer.”
This issue demonstrates why this web site was created. We recognize the need to promote the great wines AND beers of Washington state. Fortunately, another bill was passed today, SB 5510, that recognizes that Washington citizens appreciate their wine and beer. This senate bill authorizes wedding boutiques and art galleries to serve one glass of free wine or beer to their guests. This bill started out as with wine provisions only, but beer was successfully added to this bill. Why the difference?
The first bill applies only to Washington wines to promote the fantastic wines produced in this state. That bill does not provide the opportunity for Washington brewers to promote their beers in the same way as the wineries. The second bill has no limitations in terms of which wines or beers can be offered. Wedding Boutiques and Art Galleries can offer whatever beers and wines they choose, be they from Africa, New Zealand or Washington. Are our legislators telling us that beer is OK but Washington beer is not a suitable beverage to represent the agriculture and craft of our state?