Writer's note: Today I take a step back from my musings on what notes of hazelnut I'm detecting in Olympia Beer these days to gander at what aspects of beer Olympia is monkeying with so far this session.
Some time back, Hillary Hunt walked into Olympia's Fish Tail Pub asked for a growler full of hard cider, made on site by Fish Brewing.
She was refused, however, and told that cider was off limits to growlers, since the Washington State Liquor Control Board considers it fortified wine.
Lucky for anyone who likes their cider by the half gallon, Hunt has some connections among the folks that write laws about what booze can be poured into what containers, namely her father, Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia.
"She and her friends complained to their legislator and said there ought to be a law," Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, says in an email. Now, Hunt, Appleton and few others are sponsoring a bill to allow cider in growlers, and it seems to be poised to sail through the legislature, with no one opposing it in its first hearing this month.
I must confess that I've always been of the same mind as the liquor control board and thought of cider as a wine alternative - another way to turn Columbian grown fruits into boozy beverages. But I'm not reporting anything new when I write that brewers are becoming more acquainted with the stuff; even ImBev has produced a Michelob Ultra Light Cider.
Cider is also offered in a number of tap rooms around the state, though it doesn't seem like the growler issue has been one to come up often.
I put an email into Airways Brewing in Kent, which was pouring cider last time a paid a visit in December, to see if they were following the bill's progress.
Founder and head brewer Alex Dittmar said Airways has never offered growlers of cider.
"But I'm surprised to know it possibly wouldn't be legal," he writes. "I bet there are many places that do cider growlers and don't know the laws surrounding it."
In other legislative beer news:
- As was the talk of the political world a few weeks back, Gov. Jay Inslee voiced his opinion renewing taxes that are set to expire wouldn't break his no tax hike pledge. That includes a 50-cent-per-gallon beer tax set to expire later this year. He's playing with a surly constituency on that one.
- House Bill 1001 is up for its first vote tomorrow. The bill would create a special beer and wine license for movie theaters. As is, cinemas can serve beer and wine under strict conditions: they must either have a nonprofit liquor license - which allows for the selling of spirits for good causes - or a beer and wine restaurant license, under which the theaters must have minimum food service, must restrict alcohol to well-lit areas and bar minors from entering any room where alcohol is served. HB1001 would scrap all that and allow theaters to serve beer and wine, hold the meal, to be enjoyed in a dark theater with the kids. Each theater obtaining the $400 license would need to submit a plan to the state on how it would prevent minors from getting their grubby hands on the hooch during screenings of "Jackass 6" and the like.