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Rocky Mountain Brews : Sweet Politics
By Marty Jones

Mark Beran is proof that one man can make a difference in his state’s politics — and his industry. Beran, the owner and operator of his one-man Medovina meadery in Niwot, Colo., has been on a mission to change the way Colorado law treats mead makers.

For the past year, Beran has been lobbying the state’s liquor enforcement people and the state legislature to change the details of the state’s limited winery license, under which he works. Years ago, the laws pertaining to the license were rewritten, and the new laws defined wine as alcoholic beverages made of “grape and fruit.” Those three words meant wineries like Beran’s, which make their art from honey, faced extra obstacles, including everything from more expensive licensing fees to such peculiar requirements as having to serve meads in roped-off, mead-only areas at wine festivals.

Beran has spent an estimated 1,000 hours of time trying to get Colorado’s definition of wine expanded to include “agricultural products,” so that his company and others like it can enjoy the same privileges as winemakers. His efforts gained momentum a few months ago when State Senator Ron Tupa heard Beran’s concerns and decided to step up to the fermenter and help him.

Colorado’s best summer beer festival, the Rendezvous, will feature choice beers from the state’s best breweries.

Beran has now successfully pushed a Tupa-sponsored bill through the state legislature. At press time, the bill was awaiting the signature of Governor Bill Owens before it becomes law. Once it does, life will become better for Beran and Colorado’s mead lovers. Beran will reap the promotional bennies of the state-supported wine industry and be able to promote his products side-by-side with the state’s vintners at Colorado wine festivals. Mead lovers in Colorado will have the right to buy bottles of mead on Sundays at places like Medovina, Redstone Meadery and other meaderies.

Meanwhile, Beran’s faith in politics has improved like an aged dessert mead. “I took this on because it was the right thing to do,” Beran said, “and I feel really good about what has happened. Nobody in the wine industry stood up for me, but Ron Tupa was a real champion for me.”

In Other News
The brewers at Glendale, Colo.’s Bull & Bush continue to champion big, bold beers. On July 1, the brewpub launches “Christmas in July,” a celebration of high-strength beers normally savored around the winter holidays. The star of this unseasonal affair will be Legend of the Liquid Brain, a two-year-old imperial stout aged in a whisky barrel. Other heavy hitters for the month will include the Bush’s barley wine, a ’98 keg of imported Stille Nacht and a few others. Merry July!

On July 2, the Colorado Brewers Rendezvous will present the ninth edition of its annual small-town beer bash in Salida, Colo. The state’s best summer beer festival, the Rendezvous will feature choice beers from about three dozen of the state’s best breweries. There will also be beers from a few out-of-state breweries, live music and the charming gifts of Salida. Get details at coloradobeer.org.

John Hanley of the Rock Bottom location near Park Meadows Mall, south of Denver, reports that he and his peers will mark American Beer Month by brewing various versions of India pale ale at their locations. Each version will feature a similar grain and hop bill, but the recipes will be tweaked by their respective brewers. The IPAs start flowing on July 1.

In June, Flying Dog Brewery will release a tribute beer in honor of the late gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson. The beer, Gonzo Imperial Porter, is brewed with an array of malts and Millennium and Cascade hops. It sports 9.5% abv and a label illustration by longtime Thompson (and Flying Dog beer label) illustrator Ralph Steadman. The beer will be released in four-packs. Flying Dog will also release a limited number of bottles of the beer with labels signed by Steadman. A portion of proceeds from the sales of the beer will fund the building of the “Gonzo Memorial Fist” on Thompson’s Owl Farm Estate in Woody Creek, Colo. The stone structure is intended to reach 150 feet and be topped with a giant red fist. No word on whether the beer self destructs at the end of its shelf life.

Marty Jones is a Denver freelance writer and leader of Marty Jones & the Pork Boilin’ Poor Boys, Colorado’s kings of bash-grass and drunky-tonk. Got beer news from the Rocky Mountain region? Contact him at martysjones@worldnet.att.net.


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