It's pretty cool when you get to write something nice about a politician and politics, as well as a cool place like Frecon Farms in Boyertown. U. S. Representative Ryan Costello has proposed a bill, since folded into another bill, that would change the legal definitions of some ciders, based on ABV and carbonation level, so that they aren't taxed like wine and champagne.
Legal definitions? Oh yes, they exist and they are important. Under Prohibition, cider was permitted, beer below a certain ABV was permitted, and there were exemptions for wine when used in Roman Catholic and Jewish religious services. Alcohol was considered to be a medication for the treatment of certain illnesses.
Today, there is a legal definition of bourbon - and no, it doesn't have to be made in Bourbon County, Kentucky, or even in Kentucky at all. One of my favorites is Hudson Baby Bourbon, made by Tuthilltown Spirits in Gardiner, New York. To be bourbon, a spirit has to be at least 51% corn, aged in new American oak barrels. It has to be distilled to no more than 160 proof, barreled at no more than 125 proof, and bottled at 80 proof or more. Do that, and you have bourbon, no matter where you made it. If you want to make rye whiskey, like the good folks at Dad's Hat in Bristol, do the same thing with the same proportions but using rye instead of corn.
Different drinks are taxed at different rates and taxation - as a remedy to the Great Depression - killed Prohibition.
So Pennsylvania Congressman Costello has proposed a change in the legal definitions to make it easier for small cideries, breweries, and wineries to bring their products to market. The big guys, like Samuel Adams, making cider under the label Angry Orchard at the second-largest brewery in the Commonwealth, Breinigsville, will always be able to get to the store, shipping their products over larger carbon-emitting distances.
The story is below. Mr. Costello is my representative so please read the story, follow the link to find your representative (no matter what state), and ask for support on this bill.