Could a Colorado craft brewery's patriotic beer help us land the GOP National Convention?
The Republican National Committee announced last week that two of the six cities -- Las Vegas and Cincinnati -- that were vying to host the Republican National Convention in 2016 have dropped out. That means the 24 members of the site-selection committee will now pay visits only to Dallas, Cleveland, Kansas City and, yes, Denver (June 9-11).
Who will win? Well, it could come down to the municipality that doles out the most alluring swag -- something the cities all tried last March, during their original pitches. Dallas, for instance, provided GOP leaders with hats, shirts and Neiman Marcus lotion. Cincinnati scooped out ice cream, while Phoenix offered up salsa and baseball caps.
Denver, which hosted the Democratic National Convention in 2008, provided beer, which wasn't a surprise, considering that the Coors family is a major GOP supporter. But this was even before Pete Coors, who once ran for the Senate, became head of the state's RNC lobbying committee, replacing Bob Beauprez, who is running for governor.
But Coors will have to up the ante now that the competition is heating up, and his own company's products may not fill the bill. No, to bait a red-blooded conservative, you have to do a little flag-waving, and there's only one Colorado beer maker that can truly do that: Dry Dock Brewing, a craft brewery in Aurora.
Dry Dock believes it is the first brewery in the nation to be granted an exemption by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates and approves beer, wine and liquor labels. The exemption allowed the brewery to print the U.S. flag on the side of its Colorado Freedom Memorial Blonde Ale, which was released for Memorial Day.
According to the brewery, $1 from the sale of every bottle will be donated to the group that keeps up the Colorado Freedom Memorial in Aurora's Springhill Community Park; the twelve-foot-tall, 95-foot-wide glass monument is dedicated to the 6,000 Coloradans killed in action since 1876. The bottle features a soldier blowing a bugle in a field of grain, with both the U.S. and Colorado flags blowing in the background.
The TTB typically forbids the use of the flag on alcohol labels, and several breweries have had their label requests rejected over the years, including Rogue Ales in Oregon and Manchester Brewing in New Hampshire. Here is what the TTB's code says:
"Labels shall not contain, in the brand name or otherwise, any statement, design, device, or pictorial representation which the appropriate TTB officer finds relates to, or is capable of being construed as relating to, the armed forces of the United States, or the American flag, or any emblem, seal, insignia, or decoration associated with such flag or armed forces; nor shall any label contain any statement, design, device, or pictorial representation of or concerning any flag, seal, coat of arms, crest or other insignia, likely to mislead the consumer to believe that the product has been endorsed, made, or used by, or produced for, or under the supervision of, or in accordance with the specifications of the government, organization, family, or individual with whom such flag, seal, coat of arms, crest, or insignia is associated."
Which makes us wonder about Anheuser-Busch, which releases patriotically themed Budweiser packages every year around Memorial Day. The limited-edition red, white and blue cans and bottles don't actually show the flag, but rather free-floating stars and stripes. Still, the design would seem to violate the spirit of the rules written above, even if Bud donates money to the Folds of Honor Foundation, a military nonprofit.
The TTB spokesman didn't return a call seeking comment on the issue, and neither did various Budweiser representatives.
But Dry Dock spokeswoman Emily Hutto says that Bud did provide her with the following statement: "Our Budweiser red, white and blue packaging, which does not use the flag, is in accordance with the law, and the label was approved by the TTB. This patriotic packaging is part of an initiative to raise money for the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides post-secondary educational scholarships for families of the U.S. military personnel killed or disabled while serving."
So, do we have to take off our caps and put our hands over our hearts when someone downs a twelve-pack? Probably not. And it's probably safe to say that Pete Coors won't be including cans or bottles from his primary competitor in any new swag bags that the state fills for the GOP -- no matter how patriotic they look.
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