Some weeks ago, I referred to the impending proposal to include beer in a trade retaliation against the US. Here is my submission sent by email today to the International Trade Policy Division of the Canadian Federal Department of Finance. I encourage you to send a similar note to the email address at the end of this post.
I would like to make this brief submission to the International Trade Policy Division on the matter of proposed retaliation one item in the proposed - beer. In my submission, I address four aspects of the proposed surcharge as it relates to beer, tariff item 2203.00.00.Please consider sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org as well. The deadline is December 20, 2004.
First, I would like to make clear that it is not so much the presence of the item on the list but the failure of the proposal to include a sensible threshold for the proposed 100% surcharge which needs addressing. This dispute is between nations and is in reaction to trade at the wholesale and industrial levels. By allowing the surcharge to apply to imports of items, including beer, by consumers in small quantities, you are not being responsive to anything related to the Byrd Amendment. You are only punishing Canadian consumers and our US retailing neighbours - whose business is made only in tiny part by Canadian consumers. Fees and charges at the border regularly are waived for items bought by individual consumers due to, for example, length of stay. I would ask that the proposal consider making a $200 CND per visit exception to the proposed surcharge if you must impose this surcharge.
Second, that being said, I still would like to point out that the inclusion of "beer made from malt" is a selective category not in keeping with the other items on the list. Most other items reflect a wholesale importation of a product for further production. Canada trades in bulk fish, dried beans and legumes and wood products. Canada does not import bulk beer for further production and, in fact, most brands of beer which appear to be American on Canadian shelves are actually produced under license within Canada. Your inclusion of the item will not affect the trade in the brands of US beers, which is where the wholesale market truly exists. It will only address the fictitious wholesale trade. There is no wholesale dumping of US produced beer on the Canadian market. This would likely be one of the most useless attempts to flood a market ever tried in international trade as Canadians generally do not like US beer. They like Canadian brewed US brands but, as I have stated, this is a separate trade in intellectual property and not malty brew. Please ban Old Milwaukee brewing in Canada if you like. That is a separate issue, however.
Third, even among alcoholic beverages, your proposal is inconsistent. Certain wines, whiskies, rum and vodkas are included in the proposal but not gins, liqueurs and brandies. It would seem odd that bulk spirits of those categories, which might actually constitute a trade item, would be left off the list while beer, unknown to the cross-border tanker trade by the very nature of its production, would be included. Why vile cheap gin should not be included when wholesome craftsmen-like real ales are makes no sense.
Fourth, if you are insistent, make sure the tariff applies only to US beer and not beer imported to the US, resold to Canadians and then brought in. Why should we and Belgian lambic producers both suffer when it is Senator Byrd's problem we are seeking to redress.
In summary, it is my submission that beer is just an easy hit, an item on your check list of standard retaliatory categories which actually has no relation to the aims of your policy. If you insist on including it, please make it apply only at the $200 CND importation level or more. Better still, leave it off. There are only a few beer nerds like me who will be affected, who like to go over a few times a year and buy items of micro-brewed beer that we find interesting. I am glad to pay the premium I do and claim every time I drive south a couple of hours to find something different to share with pals. How the heck will stopping that have any effect on US trade policy? It won't. It will only punish what is little more than a hobby.
Thank you for your time taken considering my submission. I look forward to your response and incorporation of my suggestions if deemed appropriate.
Alan McLeod, LLB, LLM
Harpoon Brewery is one of my favorite New England micros and one that Dipietros in South Portland thankfully carries. Based in Boston with a branch brewery in Windsor Vermont, they consistently produce interesting quality brews. It was nice, then, to find this small batch brew available during my last run south of the border, 3.99 for 650 ml or 1 pint, 6 fl. oz at Party Source. Their ESB and IPA are regular buys for me when there.
Union Street Revival Ale is the seventh in the 100 Barrel Series, described by Harpoon "one-of-a-kind creations fashioned by a Harpoon brewer, limited to a single 100 barrel batch". This one was brewed on 1 October 2004 by Sean Cornelius at the Vermont facility. The beer is 6.6% and has a bit of heat which stands out slightly above its medium body. There is lots of nice fruit from the high quality pale malt used - suggestions of apricot and pears. Though it says it is "unfiltered, rich, hoppy" I think at 36 IBU these days hoppy is a bit of a stretch - hoppy to me now means the throat-ripping Ruination IPA from Stone. Rich it is, however, reminding me a lot of Propeller Extra Special Bitter from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The grain is nicely textured in the brew, accenting the bitter hops with its own roughness. True to style, there is also biscuity sweetness with a hint of raisin.
The Beer Advocates do not jump up as one. 13% are against it, some saying too sweet others finding the range of flavours a bit jarring. It is awfully complex - when you have a mouthful you could swish it around for quite a while thinking of all the adjectives you could come up with. A nice thing to do with an evening, come to think of it. One called it a session beer. I think not. At 6.6%, sessions would not last that long and, frankly, I think your mouth would get tired of all that work. A very good ale and representative of one brewer's notion of a fine ESB. Worth having for that signature note alone.
Here is some sensiible advice from the BBC on the beer belly. What I like about it is it does not say quit but cutback and get exercise. I have battled weight since childhood, long before my first beer so I appreciate the non-judgemental tone.
One thing I have done this year is upped my activity with a return to soccer/football as well as swimming and exercise bike. I am still heavy and may never get the other form of a six-pack on the gut but when I get the blood test back and it says the good cholesterol is high and blood sugar reasonable, I do not worry so much.
Beer is just a food which the body is built to digest - allowing for medical discussions like this one the effect on metabolism as opposed those morality-laced science-thin forms of analysis of beer as a toxic poison. Not even a lesser Satan, beer is just a food to be consumed in moderation.
The recent legalization of home brewing by Singapore authorities has hit the shopping malls. Previously, prospective home-brewers needed to turn to on-line supplier I-brew. However, yesterday at Carrefour, I was pleased to see this:
NOW LEGAL IN SINGAPORE!
The manufacturers could not have asked for a better slogan - though I'm still skeptical that good beers can consistently be brewed using all-powdered mixes.
I was offered a small glass of Indian Pale Ale by one of the gentlemen promoting the product. It was very light and no notable head to speak of. Still, on the whole, it was tastier than most of the bland international lagers produced by the region's larger brewers.
One problem that the retailer has not thought of, however, is that Singapore's tropical temperature may prevent consistent results. Unless a person is willing to dedicate an active air-conditioning unit to his beer unit, there is the possibility that the island's 30+ Celsius temperatures will kill the yeast before it converts all of the sugars.
I-brew, by comparison, advertises two reasonably-priced cooling modules. Also of note was the 10-pint BrewZer advertised in local tabloid Today. The novelty item, which also uses powdered mixes, can be ordered from a local supplier for S$99.
The 10-pint BrewZer
Naturally, a license to brew must still be acquired...
Picked this up for 3.79 USD for 650 ml over the other side. A big beige merengue head, leaving rings of foam rather than lace. A heavy layer of lime rind hops cuts though rich cream raisin crystal malt with a sugar cookie biscuity thing. A hint of smoke maybe? A nice red amber. A really good beer. Why would Rouge not be your everyday beer if you lived in the USA? This one got me through West Wing and right into Queer Eye.
Alan kindly invited me to join the league of good-beer bloggers. I quickly accepted. Regrettably, Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia are not the best places to find good local brews. Most regional beers are uninspiring international lagers or worse - such as the syrupy-sweet and metallic Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, its many lower-quality imitators, and the octane-enhanced but taste-deprived 'super' lagers.
Still, there is hope for this country. And that has been largely due to the efforts of Saskatchewan brewmaster Scott Robertson and the fine beers of Brewerkz. The brewpub and eatery usually carries a selection of eight draught beers, some - such as the popular India Pale Ale and pilsner lager - are constant menu items and most of the others are cycled throughout the year. It also makes several tasty bottled brews.
My favorite is the hand pumped cask-conditioned Hopback Ale – which aficionados may note is probably the only real ale brewed in Southeast Asia. It starts with hoppy and floral notes a has the smooth low-carbonation mouthfeel typical of a cask-conditioned brew. The color is a light orange, which is not typical of the darker tones of most hopbacks - however, this lends to a lightness that is ideally suited for the island's tropical climate. The alcohol content is a mild 4.5%.
The brew costs slightly more than the rest of the draught offerings, at S$5/pint during weekday lunch compared to the S$3/pint for its on-tap counterparts, but it is well worth the extra cash.
Almost all of Brewerkz's' beers are of top quality, and I will be looking at a few more during my remaining weeks in Singapore. Still, the restaurant does not deserve unrestrained praise. Their thin Strawberry beer, which tastes like a club soda mixed with a touch of strawberry essence, should be avoided at all cost. Especially as it is one of the pricier brews on the menu. More on that later.
So long as Alan hasn't found a recruit from Australasia or Japan, the two best regional sources for finer beers, I may endeavor to review some of the better imports. In the interim before I leave, I commit to spending several of my unemployed afternoons at Brewerkz testing the remainder of the menu. (No dear, I'm not slacking off... it's research).