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Lessons to Lawmakers From Beervana

Law should be amoral when it comes to what we drink or eat.  Of course, please keep us safe from tainted hamburger and spoiled milk, and protect us from deceitful claims. But do not use holy writings to limit what we ingest. The recent history of Oregon’s beer laws illustrates that removing morality-based law boosts business, employment, and civic pride.

In 1980, there were about 80 brewers, total, in the fifty United States. Our choices were Bud, Blitz, Schlitz, and others of that ilk.  That year, an entrepreneur opened Oregon’s first microbrewery. It did not survive.  However, the effort proved that people wanted alternatives to “Rocky Mountain Piss Water,” as we used to call Coors. 

Then, Oregon legalized the sale of beer at the place of manufacture.  The new Brewery-Public House license provided the necessary profit margins to create a new local industry.  Now, there are over 100 Oregon brewers.  Oregon is the No. 2 producer of craft beer in the United States, and the Portland Metropolitan area is the No. 1 craft beer market. The beer boost cannot be measured by employment, taxes, or $2.33 billion in economic impact alone.  http://oregonbeer.org/facts/

Whole neighborhoods have reemerged starting with pioneer brew-pubs established in derelict properties.  Tens of thousands of paying brew fans look forward to the last weekend of every July, when Portland’s Mayor kicks off the Oregon Brewers Festival with a parade and the ceremonial first tap. http://www.leg.state.or.us:8765/query.html?col=1meas09&qt=+brew+beer&submit=Go

Decades ago, Anheuser-Busch was the “King of Beers,” (and is now a serf to a Belgian.)  Milwaukee and Munich claimed to be the “Beer Capital of the World.”  However, many with sophisticated beer palates now say that little ol’ Portland is the new capital of a democratic beer land where there are no kings, just dozens of valiant Knights seeking to serve (beer to) humanity.

“Beervana” (Portland) has even become the beer-loving tourist’s alternative to Napa Valley, according to the Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/30/travel/la-tr-beer-20100530/2

Why is the old King dead?  In part, it’s because Oregon’s lawmakers were among the first to grant freedom to beer craftspeople.  What other industries and economies could we develop if we legislated based upon facts and realities instead of moralities?

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