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California group in lather over proposed beer taxes.

California group in lather over proposed beer taxes

Beer Drinkers of America is frothing mad about proposed taxes on its members' favorite beverage and has undertaken a campaign to do something about it.

The Costa Mesa, CA-based group has flooded the mails with more than 1 million letters containing the signature of its honorary chairman, baseball Hall of Famer Stan Musial. In the letter, the retired St. Louis Cardinals star encourages fellow beer aficionados to "stop unfair regulations and taxes on beer drinkers."

"Beer has long been a drink of moderation," states Musial, who Beer Drinkers of America acknowledges was paid an undisclosed sum for his endorsement. "It's the beverage of choice for the working men and women of America. Working America has always paid our fair share of taxes. Now we're being singled out for a least a 300 percent beer tax increase."

The letter urges readers to complain to their congressional representatives about a proposed federal beer tax and to elect congressional candidates who oppose such assessments. It also includes a pitch to join the group for $5.

Such letters have helped Beer Drinkers of America amass some 350,000 members during the past three years, including 80,000 in California alone.

The group touts itself as a non-profit organization and attempts to appeal to working-class folks and portray beer as being as American as the Stars and Stripes. In fact, this year's first 50 new members were given American flags that the group says were flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

But detractors complain that the group is bankrolled by large brewers and that it directs much of its campaign at people too young to drink legally.

"They're marketing their organization to underage youth, and we're opposed to that," said Andy Briscoe, national public affairs director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Some parents complain that youngsters have received Beer Drinkers membership cards.

"We've redoubled our efforts to make sure that won't happen any more," said Bill Schreiber, the group's executive director.

Beer Drinkers said it has received money from Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing Co., but won't say how much. Spokesmen for both companies confirmed the firms give "substantial" amounts of money to the organization.
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Title Annotation:Beer Drinkers of America
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Apr 2, 1990
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