The ABCC’s Hard to Explain Week – I’ll have a Nashua Pale Ale

Imagine yourself, a small wanna be beer maker located in Northern Massachusetts. You have a dream to create the next great Pale Ale. You live in Mass and your first instinct is to set up shop close to home, employ a few folks, and start creating your dream, the greatest Pale Ale in New England. Then you pick up the Boston Globe and find out that a hack infested organization that barely understands what you do, yet governs what you do, is about to impose nonsensical constraints on the manner in which you build your business.

Today’s Globe has an interesting Op Ed on the matter. In part, the Op Ed states the following:

The ABCC push to force small brewers to buy half their barley and hops from Massachusetts farmers flamed out as soon as it became public. State Treasurer Steve Grossman yanked hard on the agency’s leash when he learned that the ABCC’s ingredient-sourcing regulation would force some small brewers out of business and prevent others from opening their doors.

But the strangest part of the saga wasn’t even the ABCC’s strident defense of a farming industry that doesn’t actually exist. This was the really bizarre part: The whole flare-up had nothing to do with political games. Which means that, in addition to being steeped in regressive Prohibition-era legacies and stacked heavily in the favor of monied interests, the Massachusetts beer industry is also overseen by regulators who don’t actually know the basic workings of the industry they’re supposed to govern.

Hiring friends and family (yes, the patronage thing again) to oversee any industry is problematic particularly when those friends and family “don’t actually know the basic workings of the industry they’re supposed to govern.” If Grossman is serious about bringing credibility to his operation, he’ll find out how and why this nonsense ever became policy. In this business climate jobs are suppossed to be priority number 1. The jobs of those responsible for creating policy that never made a bit of sense should be eliminated. Who needs “public sector” employees harassing small busiesses that seem to be thriving and employing.…

Grossman certainly deserves credit for stepping in and bring some common sense to what was quickly becoming a train wreck. But why did it ever get to the point where a small, vibrant, and growing industry even have to worry about the destructive and profoundly anti business hacks at the ABCC stepping in and creating a problem where none existed?

Frankly if it were my new business, I would consider this fair warning that my beer brewing business was not welcome in Mass. I’d be brewing Nashua Pale Ale and forgoe the dream of brewing New England’s best pale ale anywhere south of the NH border.

Sometimes you don’t get a second chance.

Oh yea, why does Grossman have anything to do with the ABCC anyway?

About David Whelan