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Distributor attempts to market "treaty beer" in Washington state.

Distributor attempts to market "treaty beer" in Washington state

Treaty Beer, a beverage that critics called "hate and prejudice in a can," will be re-introduced as a vehicle to raise funds for a campaign against Indian treaty claims to natural resources, a treaty critic said.

Dean Crist, a Minocqua, WA pizza-parlor operator, originally tried to market Treaty Beer 18 months ago as a fund-raiser.

It failed because distributors were reluctant to handle it in the face of arguments the product had racist overtones.

Washington state customers will buy the brew because they are upset over court rulings and other decisions favoring tribal claims, Crist said.

Crist said Friday he and his brother formed a new company that will begin distributing the beer in Washington next week.

Crist is a leader of Stop Treaty Abuse, an organization opposed to the off-reservation fishing and hunting granted to Chippewa Indians under 19th century treaties in northern Wisconsin.

Critics who called for a national boycott included the governor of Washington.

Crist said he expects renewed criticism of the label. But his company, Sportsman Distributing Inc., already has 2,354 cases of beer on a shipping dock in Portland, Ore., en route from a Louisiana brewery to Washington, he said.

"It is a lot easier for me to take the heat than to ask another distributor to take the heat," he said in an interview.

Washington distribution, he said, was arranged by his brother Neil Crist, an attorney in Fife, Wash.

Crist said Washington Gov. Booth Gardner intimidated distributors in the first attempt to sell the beer.

"There is no doubt we will have cooperation from other distributors," Crist said. "They are good people but they are not crusaders."

Profits from the beer, which will sell for $11 a case wholesale, will be used by Stop Treaty Abuse to lobby legislatures and Congress to rewrite treaties, he said.

If the company can sell a million cases a year, STA would earn $1 million for its causes, Crist said.

The beer can label again features a speared fish, a reference to the walleyed pike that Chippewa catch each spring off their Wisconsin reservations. The spearing technique is usually forbidden by state conservation rules.

Rod-and-reel fishermen, resort owners and other spearfishing opponents have gathered by the hundreds at boat landings for five years during spearing season to protest the treaty rights. Crist, whose community of Minocqua has been a focal point of spearfishing protests, said his latest promotion includes a slogan that reads: "The beer that made Minocqua famous." A Cincinnati company brewed Crist's beer 1 1/2 years ago. He said the Louisiana-brewed beer has a different, smoother taste. Asked about selling it other than in Washington, he said: "If the demand is in Wisconsin, we will be in Wisconsin."
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Article Type:Biography
Date:Feb 5, 1990
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