The battle for the bottle: Denver's chapter of the Beer Drinkers of America met with state representatives Mike Salaz and Alice Nichol at a recent rally to protest ongoing attempts to raise beer taxes.

"We're hearing a lot of indecision from Colorado lawmakers on this issue," says John Fajardo, BDA's government affairs director for the western United States. "There are no threats on the state level as of yet, but things are coming up short cost-wise on these national health-care proposals, so they're going to have to come up with the money somehow. And they always start looking at beer."

In a crisis, who doesn't? The BDA was founded in 1987 to battle a proposed beer tax in New Mexico--a fight the group won. Since then, the organization has grown to 750,000 members nationally, with 20,000 in Colorado. Although only about a hundred people showed up for the rally at the Radisson, Fajardo says the group's real strength lies in bombarding legislators--just prior to elections--with petitions and letters opposing beer-tax increases.

"In Colorado you pay about $2 per case in taxes on your beer," Fajardo says. That puts us a bit lower than most states, which average out at $2.79 per case, but it seems high to me. (Personally, I'd like to see higher taxes on cigarettes; I've never seen any medical studies on the dangers of secondhand beer fumes.) If you're interested in joining this worthy fight, call (800)441-2337; $10 gets you a one-year BDA membership and a subscription to the group's cool quarterly magazine.

Hot stuff: Tabasco turns 125 this year; to celebrate, McIlhenny Company, maker of the hot one, will barrage us with television ads featuring famous people revealing what they like to do with their hot sauce. Dan Aykroyd says he puts his on "everything humans can consume." George Bush and Kenny Rogers put Tabasco on pork rinds; Ted Nugent, one of the NRA's more colorful supporters, soaks his fresh kill in it. Dan Marino really goes out on a limb: He puts Tabasco on chicken wings. And Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon claims he gargles with it prior to going on stage, which I think is pretty obvious. Not that anyone has asked me, but I like to add a little egg to my Tabasco.

Another hot topic: Last week's Mouthing Off apparently reheated the battle between Keating brothers Scott and Brian, who together started the now-defunct Hotluck parties ten years ago. Brian, who now lives in Seattle, says he never told Scott he couldn't use the Hotluck name; in fact, at the moment no one has an official claim to the moniker. Although Brian applied for a trademark when he started testing the market by advertising "Hotluck Party Kits" in the Colorado Spice Company catalogue, he has yet to receive it. For that matter, he has yet to produce a Hotluck kit.

"I told Scott in January that I consider the name `Hotluck' to be half his," Brian says. "I trademarked the name to protect it. I never asked Scott not to use the name. It's a shame it has to come down to this. You'd think blood would be thicker than salsa.


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