Today I’m happy to welcome Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Company to the family of blog sponsors. Most of you are probably familiar with the brewery and it’s flagship beers, like Wildcat IPA, Haystack Hefeweizen, and Steam Train Porter, but today I want to tell you about a new offering from Snoqualmie Falls Brewery: Zippy Lemon Wheat Ale, a special-release beer that pays tribute to a familiar comic strip character.
For years, Dave Eiffert has been a fan of Zippy (aka Zippy the Pinhead), a comic strip featuring a pinhead clown named Zippy who regularly utters seemingly meaningless non sequiturs that actually do make sense. Early one morning, fueled by an undisclosed amount of coffee, the General Manager and President of Snoqualmie Falls Brewing, decided to write a letter to the comic’s creator and ask for permission to use Zippy’s likeness on a beer label.
Turns out, Bill Griffith, the creator of Zippy the Pinhead, was amiable to Dave’s suggestion, however his consent was not without cost. The artist demanded two six-packs of the beer in exchange for the right to use Zippy’s likeness. Dave Eiffert thought it a reasonable offer and now Snoqualmie Falls Brewing is producing Zippy Lemon Wheat Ale.
About the Beer
Zippy is available in 22-ounce bottles and kegs at the Snoqualmie Falls Brewery Taproom (8032 Falls Ave. SE, Snoqualmie, WA 98065) and at finer beer stores throughout Washington and Idaho.
- 7.2 percent ABV
- 25 IBUs
- Brewed with a wheat ale grist, Czech Saaz hops, and an Abbey yeast, then dosed with lemon juice to add a slightly tart, citrus flavor.
Who is Zippy?
Zippy the Pinhead is probably best recognized by people from the San Francisco Bay area, though I remember it from the Seattle P-I, or maybe the Seattle Times (I don’t recall which, and maybe it was both). For the last few decades Zippy has enjoyed wide syndication in newspapers across the country.
The comic strip originally appeared in underground publications around the San Francisco Bay Area back in the early 1970s, which is where (and when) Dave grew up. “The combination of random craziness, the Bay Area setting, and cast of wonderful characters in the comic really drew me in,” explains Dave Eiffert. “Quite a few of the remarks Zippy made are now in my family’s lexicon of expressions.”
Making it Happen
Getting the artist’s approval turned out to be the easy part. According to Dave, the real challenge was getting the label approved by the federal government’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which must approve all beer labels.
In the original formulation, Snoqualmie Falls Brewing planned to use a lemon product that required a Food Information Data Sheet (FID), and that FID required approval before the recipe could be approved, which in turn had to be approved before the label could be approved. Ugh. Approve the FID so that you can approve the recipe, so that you can approve the label.
“The manufacturer [of the lemon product] hadn’t applied for the FID, and that stalled the entire process for about four months,” Dave says. “We changed the recipe to use lemon juice, which requires no FID, and then, virtually on the eve of when the recipe would have been approved, the TTB made a new ruling that most fruit juices required no recipe approval for use in beer, so the recipe was rejected for that reason. I immediately sought label approval without the recipe, which was quickly approved, and we were ready to go. That was a five-month headache that taught me a few lessons about TTB approval.”
The whole TTB approval process sounds like something from one of the Zippy comic strips. In the end, it all worked out and the beer tastes great.