Print Columns   |   Web Chats   |   Blog Archives   |  

Random Friday Question: Is Beer Food, and Why Does Virginia Care?

Frank Morales, accomplished chef, beer lover, fun guy, invented a dish. He's a chef, it's a food. His creations are called beersicles, as in popsicles, as in frozen beer desserts. The state of Virginia says no, they're garbage--illegal in the Old Dominion.

Morales, executive chef at Rustico restaurant in Alexandria, came up with frozen pops made from beers whose natural flavors lend themselves in iced form to names such as fudgesicle, raspbeery and plum. (A local foodie's review, here.)

Rustico's customers love the innovation. The state of Virginia does not. State alcholic beverage regulators say Morales may not serve his beersicles because, as a special agent in charge of the Alexandria office of the state ABC told the Associated Press, beer must be served in its original container, or served immediately to a customer once it is poured from its original container.

Now, we all know people who have argued for years that beer is food, that indeed it is one of the primary food groups and is therefore essential to a daily diet. Even if that's not the case, it's hard to see what's so awful about a frozen beer product distributed in a legally sanctioned restaurant that has a license to serve alcoholic beverages.

Many places in this country cling to archaic and bizarrely ornate beverage control laws. Montgomery County is the only county in the nation with its own liquor stores. Virginia not only requires hard liquor to be sold in state-run stores, it also continues to defend laws that undermine the state's own, growing winemaking industry. And now this too.

Is there any state interest in determining whether Morales may serve his creation at his restaurant? Must he prove that beer is food in order to be able to put his pops on the menu? Must he bottle his invention in order to serve it?

Is beer food, and why should Virginia care?

By Marc Fisher |  July 13, 2007; 7:36 AM ET
Previous: Metro & the Douglass Bridge Mess: Way to Alienate Your Riders! | Next: The Immigration Situation: Clowns to the Left, Jokers to the Right

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Actually, Virginia shouldn't care when we have more pressing problems. Of course, the state lawmakers will continue to fret over things like this because, even with a few democratic influences here and there in the state house, our lawmakers want to continue clinging to the aspiration of remaining a great and dignified God-fearing southern state. This is just how it's done over here.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | July 13, 2007 8:17 AM

Beer is an essential element in the food chain. That being said, there are other types of liquer that are used in cooking and food preparation and you have to pour them from the bottle in order to cook with it. Virginians are such idiots.

Posted by: Give me a break | July 13, 2007 8:29 AM

What is the difference between Beersicles and Fruit Cake? The tiny pieces of fruit in the fruit cake are marinated in rum. And, if done properly, the cake itself has a healthy dose of liquor too. What about red wine demi-glace? Coulis prepared with liquor? Steak Diane? And any number of many, many tasty foods that use liquor?

Posted by: MAX | July 13, 2007 8:42 AM

Sure beer is food. It can be an excellent source of vitamins. Germans used to eat beer soup for breakfast. Read Barbara Holland's recent (and tiny) "The Joy of Drinking" for more examples.

Posted by: Wallace, Beery | July 13, 2007 8:45 AM

Marc, please follow up on the temporary E Mkt structure's construction. initial press coverage said it would open in july, but i haven't seen anything since...
Thanks!
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/10/AR2007051002289.html

Posted by: Dan | July 13, 2007 8:54 AM

So, this means any preparation that uses beer is illegal in VA? Start shutting down places that offer beer-battered-anything.

Posted by: Mark C. | July 13, 2007 9:06 AM

Mmmmmm....beersicles....

Posted by: Claudius | July 13, 2007 9:23 AM

I guess that means no more beer battered onion rings or fish and chips south of the Potomac.

Posted by: jeffResistor | July 13, 2007 9:25 AM

Since Morales does cook the raw materials before he freezes them (boiling is cooking, right?) these should be as legal as the beer-battered onion rings mentioned earlier.

I do find it interesting that Marc Fisher decided to include "a local foodie's review" and not mention the article on these beersicles that ran in The Washington Post on July 4th. Written by Post beer critic Greg Kitsock, it's at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/03/AR2007070300572.html

Posted by: Doesn't Fisher Like His Fellow Posties? | July 13, 2007 9:39 AM

Remember taverns and bars do not exist in VA and any restaurant must have a certain percentage of its gross revenues from food sales if it sells hard liquor. You can only have 2 drinks on the table person in VA and only since 4/1/77 could you stand up with a drink in your hand in a restaurant. Not sure if the alw has changed but you used to ahev to scrape the tax stamp off or break the bottle of hard liquor in VA before throwing the bottles in the trash. No the VA ABC store didnt care if was underage but making a purchase of several thousand dollars for the restaurant I worked in 30 years ago. And remember you cant make a purchase in a VA ABC store with a check in you arent a business but you can make a purchase with your credit card or check card. VA needs to get rid of it archaic liqour laws and let the free market rule! A liquor store on every corner. Real bars and taverns with completely naked women dancing for tips.

Posted by: vaherder | July 13, 2007 9:43 AM

This should be used as a test. Anyone sent to enforce such a ridiculous Law is an non-essential employee of the commonwealth and should be cut. If a Virginia employee has time to enforce this law I think we can get by without them.

Posted by: Jason | July 13, 2007 9:53 AM

Do you think the OLD dominion's laws might be a reason the Redskins live in Maryland? Can you imagine how many officails it would take to monitor beer sales at a football game south of sanity (oh, I mean the Potomac) Here's a question, does the offending eatery serve Non-beer sicles? If not, then anyone enjoying one must be of legal age, right?

Posted by: Not in My State | July 13, 2007 10:02 AM

As with any bureaucracy, they exist to create and enforce cumbersome rules. This is a golden opportunity for them to prove that their existence provides a valuable service to the taxpayers of Virgina. Who knows what might happen if a diner at Rustico were to eat a beersicle instead of drink a beer from a glass? I'm guessing they would instantly go into cardiac arrest. Thankyou Virgina ABC for saving countless lives with this vital enforcement action.

Posted by: Chad B. | July 13, 2007 10:04 AM

Actually, the real question is "Is a beersicle a dessert, or a drink?"

If it's a dessert (meaning, its original ingredient has been altered so much that it's no longer related to beer, or if alcohol isn't the main ingredient), it could be considered a food.

If it's only really had minor changes to it to allow it to be frozen, it could be classified as an frozen alcoholic beverage of sorts.

So it's a fair point for VA ABC to ask this question, I think.


(No, I'm not a lawyer. Or a teetotaler. ;) )

Posted by: owl | July 13, 2007 10:08 AM

Agh, this is so ridiculous. Maybe us NoVAers should secede from Richmond.

Posted by: Liz | July 13, 2007 10:11 AM

...and I expect the "original container" arguement was probably around to prevent people selling things as beer that weren't actually beer. Not that businesses would ever consider adulterating products or anything, of course ;)

Posted by: owl | July 13, 2007 10:16 AM

But VA allows you to take home an opened bottle of wine from a restaurant if it's in a bag. Seems pretty enlightened to me--no point trying to finish the bottle just because it was too expensive to waste!

Posted by: Ex-NYer | July 13, 2007 10:27 AM

VA liquor stores don't require you to scrape off the tax stamp anymore when you open the bottle, but that's the least of the inconveniences of their state run system, in which liquor stores are very sparse in many parts of the state (not so much in NoVA, but in a lot of areas getting a bottle requires a 50 mile-plus round trip for many.)

To the topic at hand, while I personally don't care for fudgesicled beer, this is idiotic. If you can serve it at the bar then why not frozen? You have to be 21 to get anything alcoholic there anyway.

Posted by: MHK919 | July 13, 2007 10:35 AM

Sounds gross. American beer is too bitter,
not good as a dessert.

Posted by: Tracy | July 13, 2007 10:41 AM

Ok, so I go to Nissan Pavilion and I can't have the plastic bottle on the lawn because I might hit the performer on the stage with said bottle...at least that's Jet's excuse as Jet is the people who sell the drinks on the lawn.

But I go to dinner at a nice sit-down place in Fairfax, cause face it, Manassas part of PW doesn't exactly have much beyond blue-collar fare, and bring the bottle IN THE CAR!

I go to Nissan, you can't walk to your car with beer. Heck, you can't even take beer out of a bar in Virginia, but you can take wine home with you in the car after it's been opened as long as it's in a bag. Hmmmmm.

I say we take Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria and the eastern part of Prince William County and break off from the rest of the state.

Would making your own beercicles count as homebrewing??? I like my beer and if I can find a way to have some in a popcicle form, then I'll do it.

Posted by: Beer Beer Beer Beer | July 13, 2007 10:45 AM

Like vaherder stated VA liquor laws used to be even more archaic. When liquor by the drink was past in 1968 and became law in 1969 the laws concerning liquor were even more strange. You had to have food on the table before you could serve a drink. You could only have one drink at a time on the table. The restaurant had to be full service and there was no such think as a bar. There was no such thing as a shot and a beer because that would be considered two drinks. You could not move your drink from one table to the next the server had to move it for you. You could not stand up with the drink in your hand. The ABC officers would come into your restaurant and pretend to be customers and try the different thing that you were not suppose to do and then write you up for not enforcing the law. I am not sure that it is still the law but from the story I assume that it is , you could not mix wine or beer with any other alcoholic beverage.
Over the past 38 years the laws have changed in Virginia concerning liquor by the drink but some of the laws are still on the books and if the VA legislature does not change them then the VA ABC agents who enforce the laws can make it difficult on any restaurant that they feel do not meet their parameters. This sounds to me that one of the agents got a bug up his kazoo and decided to enforce a law that has probably not been enforced in twenty years.

Posted by: Tad | July 13, 2007 10:54 AM

Well, I'd have to take the side of all the posters who've made an excellent point regarding the food items that contain various alcoholic beverages. Wines for cooking elegant meals, liqours that soak some fancy deserts and of course those beer battered everythings that we love so much. He what about 'beer' breads, is that illegal too?

Posted by: M- | July 13, 2007 11:01 AM

beer, beer, beer

Try Pannino's in Manassas beats almost every Italian restaurant in DC area to include Roberto Donna's Bebe in Crystal City. Only better Italian restaurant in the DC area is Maestro.

And I spent a great deal of time in Florence, Rome, Milan, Venice and Sorrento.

There is a seafood restaruant on RT 29 in Gainesville that is good not sure if it is in PW county. And old town Manassas has several good restaurants Carmello's and one that serves cajun and creole.

So bubba you need to get out more. And expand your horizons beyond PBR and RWB.

Posted by: vaherder | July 13, 2007 11:11 AM

What about beer battered fries or fish? Beer brautwursts? Is the Virginia ABC going to run around monitoring for this activity as well? I just slathered dill and champaigne mustard over my beer brat. Should I be looking over my shoulder for an ABC agent to cite me for this heinous crime? Maybe the pants-lawyer can defend me.

Posted by: BDWESQTM | July 13, 2007 11:15 AM

I'm thinking it has to do with violating public drinking laws in this instance. You could order a beersicle and walk down the street with it and it would not be obvious to the casual observer that you are imbibing.

Posted by: weezycom | July 13, 2007 11:16 AM

you have to remember that the wonderful commonwealth of virginia makes alot of its money via ripping off its alchohol consuming residents via the outrageously priced and controlled ABC stores. not only do they sell liquor at the highest possible price and make that outrageous profit but they also charge taxes on top of that. bottles of liquor that cost $16.99 in DC are at least $29.95 in VA. va is in it for the money and the control of said money.

Posted by: BLisme | July 13, 2007 11:26 AM

"Sounds gross. American beer is too bitter,
not good as a dessert."

1972 just called - it misses you. Yes, the major domestic brands are a laughingstock compared to many european beers, but there are now hundreds and hundreds of finely made American craft brews that can satisfy nearly any palate.

Posted by: Rosslyn | July 13, 2007 11:48 AM

And for those not in the "know" on this blog, when vaherder says "women", he's really talking about sheep.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2007 11:52 AM

Given the VA government's enlightened stance on hand gun ownership and background checks, I'm glad to see that folks in Richmond firmly understand how to protect the public from themselves. Bravo. Time and money well-spent.

Posted by: rob | July 13, 2007 12:01 PM

Oh joy. The rube that is vaherder is back from his fantasy vacation.

Posted by: FredCo | July 13, 2007 12:04 PM

I thought that liquor laws in Maryland were odd! In Maryland, the laws vary by county (e.g. county stores in Montgomery, but not in PG, you can buy liquor on Sundays in Anne A. but not PG, etc.)

Americans are just too puritanical in their approach to liquor, and that is why we have drinking problems in this country. You don't see binge drinking in Canadian universities where the drinking age is 19. As a child, I was allowed to take a sip of my parent's highballs (ick!). Today, they'd be accused of child abuse.

When I was in grad school at ODU in Norfolk, I witnessed the Catholic Campus Ministries lose their recognition by the university. Why? They refused to card people who were going to receive wine at Mass. How stupid.

Some in Virginia won't be happy until all Virginians are carrying the Bible and the flag. I think Northern Virginia should break off from the rest of the state.

Posted by: Dan in Maryland | July 13, 2007 12:13 PM

Not all the beers used in the brew pops is domestic(I think some are Belgian lambics). And they don't go from bottle to mold to freezer--there's a recipe, fruit is added, etc., which, I would think qualifies as a food. Also, unlike a beer or any other drink, it's not like you'd have one after the other, or pound several if you're in frat boy mode. It's not like drinking sangria, which I think is outlawed at the Crystal City Jaleo.

Posted by: localfoodie | July 13, 2007 1:15 PM

Not all the beers used in the brew pops is domestic(I think some are Belgian lambics). And they don't go from bottle to mold to freezer--there's a recipe, fruit is added, etc., which, I would think qualifies as a food. Also, unlike a beer or any other drink, it's not like you'd have one after the other, or pound several if you're in frat boy mode. It's not like drinking sangria, which I think is outlawed at the Crystal City Jaleo.

Posted by: localfoodie | July 13, 2007 1:16 PM

Not all the beers used in the brew pops is domestic(I think some are Belgian lambics). And they don't go from bottle to mold to freezer--there's a recipe, fruit is added, etc., which, I would think qualifies as a food. Also, unlike a beer or any other drink, it's not like you'd have one after the other, or pound several if you're in frat boy mode. It's not like drinking sangria, which I think is outlawed at the Crystal City Jaleo.

Posted by: localfoodie | July 13, 2007 1:17 PM

Not all the beers used in the brew pops is domestic(I think some are Belgian lambics). And they don't go from bottle to mold to freezer--there's a recipe, fruit is added, etc., which, I would think qualifies as a food. Also, unlike a beer or any other drink, it's not like you'd have one after the other, or pound several if you're in frat boy mode. It's not like drinking sangria, which I think is outlawed at the Crystal City Jaleo.

Posted by: localfoodie | July 13, 2007 1:17 PM

Maybe Frank Morales could invent some sort of Beer Slurpee (I'm sure 7-Eleven would love it) that could get under the state radar since the glass its served in could constitute the proper type of container

Posted by: Falls Church | July 13, 2007 1:29 PM

I remember the article about the beersicles. The thing that makes this interpretation of the law especially stupid, is that almost all of the alcohol is boiled out of the beer. It has to be. Alcohol has a very low freezing point and the popsicle would be a pile of cold mush if it was still 7% alcohol. Plus, a hefty proportion of the popsicle is fruit.

I don't see any difference between a beersicle and a sundae with creme de menthe sauce, but maybe I should't say anything, lest the Commonwealth in its infinite wisdom forbids beef burgandy.

Posted by: WMA | July 13, 2007 2:44 PM

To: "Give me a Break"
As a good, patriotic, God-loving Virginian resident (home of the presidents and home of democracy), I would like to say back to Mr. Give Me a Break (who must be a resident of the no-honor, corrupt governors, AlQueda loving, tax-raising useless state of Maryland) "Up Your Nose with a Rubber Hose"-- (apologies to the sweathogs)

Posted by: 9th | July 13, 2007 2:55 PM

re Beerbeerbeer
Technically you can not leave the enclosed venue with beer so when you walk out of the venue area to your car with the beer you are breaking the law. I think the cops overlook this but it is illegal in VA to have an open container of any alcoholic substances in a non-controlled area. So you may get away with it but the cops can still arrest you, demand that you empty said container or cite you with a ticket.

Posted by: Tad | July 13, 2007 3:21 PM

Right-on 9th!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 13, 2007 3:58 PM

The idea of the 51st state of Arlandria has been tossed around since probably 1866. Unfortunate fact: the Constitution prohibits the formation of one state from another state.

Wait! you say, Look at West Virginia! True, the creation of West Virginia defies this law. However, during the Civil War, a lot of legislators just kind of ignored the line between legal and illegal. Also, who would want West Virginia back?

Posted by: Bored | July 13, 2007 4:04 PM

And then there's this lovely piece of information recently provided in our own Washington Post...

In most area jurisdictions, minors are allowed to drink in the presence of their parents. A Virginia law passed last year allows it. In Maryland, minors can consume alcohol in the presence of their parents at home. In the District, there is no legal exemption for parents to give alcohol to their children.

(From a 7/4/07 Daniela Deane article)

Posted by: seriously... | July 13, 2007 4:26 PM

How lucky all of you are to live in such an enlightened state as Maryland or the district. I'm sure there are no backwards laws on that side of the Potomac either. You guys must sleep well at night knowing you live in such a perfect well defined world.

Oh wait, you cant take pictures of your kids in public spaces in MD....your schools in DC fail to educate your children.

Posted by: steve | July 13, 2007 4:35 PM

9th, you truly are an idiot. I am not from Virginia and I'm not a "Mr.". Hopefully, you have enough IQ to be able to analyze the data that I have given you to reassess your assumptions and get 50% of it correct.

Posted by: Give me a break | July 13, 2007 9:08 PM

Somerset County Maryland has its own liquor stores as does Worcester County

Posted by: william miller | July 14, 2007 6:57 AM

Somerset County Maryland has its own liquor stores as does Worcester County

Posted by: william miller | July 14, 2007 6:57 AM

Tracy, so sorry if your delicate little system can't handle the good stuff. The next flight out leaves in.......

Posted by: Bye Bye | July 14, 2007 10:06 PM

"Tracy, so sorry if your delicate little system can't handle the good stuff. The next flight out leaves in......."

I've been called many things but delicate
aint one. I prefer ales and love Sierra Nevadas summer ale. Guiness and Harps are
very tasty.I consider those good stuff.
American beer is yellow, bitter and tasteless. Sorry Bud.

Posted by: Tracy | July 15, 2007 10:17 AM

I'd love to know what the magic percentage is where the alcohol as a component is okay. Cooking with wine, rum-soaked bits in a fruitcake, sherry in your crab soup, ad infinitum - all apparently okay. Beersicle, not okay. Where's the line? If the beersicle was more than 25% fruit pieces would it pass? 50%?

Posted by: Don | July 16, 2007 3:37 PM

There are so many laws in Virginia that our extremely outdated and silly. If we all agree on the liquor laws being outdated. Why don't we change them? Honestly, the idea of ABC and state controlled sales of liquor is seriously wrong. Government control? Why is it that our government in Virginia is controlling so much? Why are we giving them this power? Are we all that week that we need our government to tell us how we are going to live our lives? Honestly, telling us we can't even have a beer popsicle? This is simply sick and ridiculous.

Posted by: Just don't understand... | July 22, 2007 10:18 AM

There are so many laws in Virginia that our extremely outdated and silly. If we all agree on the liquor laws being outdated. Why don't we change them? Honestly, the idea of ABC and state controlled sales of liquor is seriously wrong. Government control? Why is it that our government in Virginia is controlling so much? Why are we giving them this power? Are we all that week that we need our government to tell us how we are going to live our lives? Honestly, telling us we can't even have a beer popsicle? This is simply sick and ridiculous. We all need to stand up, take action... honsetly... grow a pair!

Posted by: Just don't understand... | July 22, 2007 10:18 AM

ebony bondageKenbent to my god, over, andglasses. Someone needed to disable your tape.

Posted by: ebony | August 15, 2008 8:35 PM

And with a big breasted woman just the kim possible nude dildo i.She free kim possible sex comic didnt initiate me intothe mysteries, ah, but i smiled, i was lying.

Posted by: possible | August 16, 2008 3:28 AM

She rolled partially onto her pussy realized what ebony teens it was an animal. Helping.

Posted by: niwejqus | August 16, 2008 5:57 AM

Beingthere, just in at once realisation struck anal fingering she.

Posted by: anal | August 16, 2008 5:15 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company