After reading through beernews.org’s Craft Beer 2009 Year in Review: The Top 10 Stories, I wanted to put together a list of some of the worst stories that infected the beer market this past year.  Read on, grab a pint, and hope for the continued growth and success of your favorite microbrewery in 2010!

BrewDog Harassed For Brewing High Alcohol Beers
Across the pond, Scotland’s foremost craft brewery BrewDog has seen its share of controversy this year. People with nothing better to do The Portman Group and Alcohol Focus Scotland took to retailers asking them to refuse to stock Tokyo*, an 18.2% abv beer, because it “promoted binge drinking.” In classic BrewDog fashion, they responded by releasing the tongue-in-cheek Nanny State, which at a mere 1.1% abv, isn’t even strong enough to be classified as a beer, and as such isn’t subject to a beer tax.

BrewDog also called into question the motives of the watchdog groups. “Like all of our specialist beers it was only available online at our website and in five specialist beer retailers throughout the UK,” says BrewDog co-founder Martin Dickie. “They should perhaps concentrate their efforts on targeting the brands selling 24 cans of lager for £7 – where literal excess is contributing to Scotland’s problem with alcohol.”

Not afraid to add fuel to the fire, BrewDog just released another new beer called Tactical Nuclear Penguin. Weighing in at an incredible 32% abv, it is the new record holder for world’s strongest beer.

President Obama
This certainly hasn’t been an easy year for the leader of the free world, no doubt made harder by his trouble with beer, starting at his inauguration. Piece Brewery & Pizzeria in Chicago was on board to send a shipment of their honorary InaugurAle for the ceremony following his swearing in, until they received the late news that for security reasons, it had to be sent in bottles rather than kegs. This of course was about the same time that many breweries received friendly notices from the TTB alerting them that they were not allowed to use the President’s likeness on an alcoholic beverage. As such, beers like Obamagang from Brewery Ommegang had to switch up its title, opting for Inauguration Ale 2009 instead.

The Beer Summit
After the whole fiasco between Professor Henry Louis Gates and Sgt. James Crowley earlier in the year, President Obama suggested a bottle of suds at the White House to help settle the brouhaha. Too bad these guys had such crap beer in mind. It was a little unsettling for craft beer fans to hear that the most powerful man in the world decided to crack a wimpy little Bud Light. If you ask me, he should have flexed some real muscle, swigged some Bacardi 151 straight from the bottle and punched everyone out for complicating his schedule. Vice Prez Biden should have gotten an extra beatdown from Obama for sipping Buckler, a non-alcoholic lager. Can somebody get him a straw please?

Celebrity Beers
Is this really happening? Ed Hardy? Kid Rock? Please make it stop. Now.

Triple Hops Brewed
Miller Lite — would you mind explaining to the class what you mean by this? Perhaps you’re referring to the fact that just about every brewer who gives half a damn about the actual flavor of their beer usually adds hops at three different points during the brewing process? Or maybe you’re implying that you use thrice as many hops than some of the other players in the field? That seems even more unlikely. You may have suckered some unsuspecting beer virgin into buying a 30 pack or two, but overall, I think it just left people scratching their heads wondering just what in the hell “Triple Hops Brewed” meant. Anybody have a guess?

FDA Goes After Coffee Beers
Where do I begin to rant about the FDA? I could certainly go on for days about their backwards philosophy regarding raw milk cheeses and things of that nature, but for the purpose of this post, I’ll try to stay on topic. Somebody at the home office decided caffeine probably isn’t a smart thing to mix with alcohol, which probably has some truth to it. Given the slew of vodkas and spirits on the market “infused” with caffeine or guarana, the FDA asked for some sort of proof that mixing the two was safe. Someone must’ve gotten a hair up their ass and said, “Well, what about all those beers being made with coffee beans?” Sure enough, the FDA came knocking on some brewery doors.

Honestly, I’m curious to know just how much caffeine is actually in these beers, especially in comparison to the liquid speedball vodkas that should really be at the focus of this investigation. If I want a Beer Geek Breakfast with my bacon, I don’t want the FDA telling me I can’t. Maybe they should spend more time recalling deadly pharmaceuticals they approved as safe five years prior.

What did I miss?
Leave a comment below! What were the worst things to happen in the beer world in 2009? Besides me starting this blog of course…