Make Beer the Official Beverage of Washington State

Look, I know that down in Olympia the Washington State Legislature has more important things to do than pass a law making beer the official state beverage. Why then would they take the time to make coffee our official state beverage? That’s exactly what Barbara Bailey, a Republican House member from Oak Harbor, seeks to do. At the behest of a group of local high school students, Bailey and others have submitted a bill to make coffee Washington’s official state beverage: House Bill 1715. (Read the bill in PDF format.)

Beer would be a much more appropriate state beverage. I know that it sounds like a joke, but this is actually a rather serious matter. I have valid reasons why Washington should be the first state in the country (as far as I can tell) to have beer as its official beverage.

  • Hops are a huge component of our state’s agricultural profile. Washington is the top hop-producing state in the country. Not by a little, but by a huge margin. In fact, all of the ingredients required to produce beer are grown in Washington.
  • We currently have 137 breweries in Washington. The number of breweries increases regularly. I haven’t checked in a few weeks, so we may well have 140 by now. It is indisputably one of the only industries currently experiencing growth.
  • Craft beer is growing in popularity and breweries are now popping up in the most unlikely places across the entire country. For us, this is nothing new. Thirty years ago, when there was no such thing as a craft beer industry, Washington was at the forefront of what would become the craft beer revolution. We were a hot bed of craft beer before most of the country had ever heard of craft beer.
  • Washington is the only state in the country that has an official Beer Commission. Established by the Washington State Legislature in 2006, the Washington Beer Commission is the only commodity commission of its kind in the entire country. Obviously, the Washington State Legislature recognizes what a valuable commodity beer is to our state’s economy.

While some people may question the morality of having beer be the official state beverage, I would suggest that coffee offers no moral high ground. At least Washington has laws intended to keep beer out of the hands of teens and children. The fact that a group of high school students want coffee to be our state beverage should tell us something. I’m not sure exactly what, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t good.

Go to this website to locate your representatives. Send them a message requesting that they consider this decision carefully. For the reasons stated above, I intend to request that House Bill 1715 only be passed if it is modified to make beer the official state beverage.

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  1. Never happen. Washington produces the second most wine in the country. Unless it somehow makes beer, wine and coffee the Official State Beverages.

  2. I don’t see any wine geeks trying. I would be foolish if I failed to admit that Washington is a prolific producer of wine. I would argue that there is nothing special about our place in the world of wine other than volume.

    Don’t get me wrong: I admit that the wine folks might have an argument against beer, but wine does not go nearly as well with fish and chips.

  3. Oh I’m not saying we should recognize wine over beer. Certainly we make some of the best beer in the country, we grow the most hops, and we have some of the oldest of the ‘new’ generation of micros. That’s worth honoring. But this is just the sort of thing that gets industry groups all huffed up. I can see the WA Wine Commission and Starbucks getting involved. Wine and Coffee will raise a fuss and I see annoyed, busy legislators just throwing their hands up rather than offend competing donors.

    Also, just for kicks I did a quick check to see if anyone else had beer as their state’s beverage. No, but a trend seems to emerge. Only Alabama has an alcoholic state beverage, and it looks like half the states have milk as their beverage. You’d think Kentucky would have bourbon, Tennessee would have whiskey, and so on, but they don’t. So if this moves forward my guess is you’ll probably get resistance to the idea of “officially recognizing a state alcohol” from the usual camps; religious groups, MADD, etc..

  4. Russell, good points. With the exception of MADD, I would expect (hope) that those groups would also offer the same resistance to any efforts threatening to make coffee our state beverage. As I said, at least we have laws regulating who can drink beer.

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