Just another WordPress.com site

Craft Beer

Economic Impact of Texas Craft Brewing Industry: Drink Beer, Save Texas.

Today the results of the most recent update of the Texas Craft Brewing Industry Economic Impact Study has gone live. Below is a copy of the story, and a link to additional materials.

I’d like to thank all my colleagues in the Texas Craft Brewers Guild for helping me with this study, and a special thank you to Joanne Marino of Skematik and Steve Brand of Wasabi Creative for all their help in helping with the release and publication of the study.

Texas cannot afford to keep it’s small businesses operating at a disadvantage to out-of-state concerns. 52,000 jobs and  $5 billion of additional annual economic activity are at stake. I encourage you to contact your representatives, tell them the story of Texas Craft Beer, and point them towards this study.

Cheers,

Scott

TX Craft Beer Impact $608 Million, Could Be Billions

 

The Texas craft beer industry is having measurable positive economic impact on local and regional economies throughout the state to the tune of $608 million, according to the Economic Impact of the Texas Craft Brewing Industry study released today by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. Texas craft brewers are also creating jobs, accounting for 51.2 percent of all the state’s brewery jobs, a remarkable figure given only 0.7% of the beer consumed in the state comes from Texas craft brewers.

The study, authored by University of Texas-San Antonio Economics Professor Scott Metzger, founder and CEO of San Antonio-based Freetail Brewing Co., also models how the economic impact of the Texas craft beer industry could reach $5.6 billion annually in just eight years.

“$5.6 billion sounds astounding, but given what’s happening across the country with craft beer, it’s not. It’s actually conservative,” Metzger says, calling the 2011 figure “the tip of the iceberg.”


“Given consumer demand and planned increases in capacity, a tremendous opportunity exists for ongoing and future growth — provided legislation may be passed allowing Texas’ craft brewers the same access to market enjoyed by brewers in other states and by the Texas wine industry,” Metzger says.

 

“In other states, brewers can sell their packaged goods directly to consumers through tasting rooms. In other states, brewpubs can sell their beer off premises, at festivals, for instance, and as packaged goods in retail stores, not just at their brewpub location,” explains Metzger.

 

“These sales opportunities other brewers benefit and grow from are lost for Texas craft brewers — and they add up.”

Download the entire report, official press release and supplemental materials here.


Gearing up for 2013.

I get occasional questions via email and comments here in regards to if Craft Brewers will once again be active in the 2013 Texas Legislative Session. The answer is absolutely, and I believe we are more focused, driven and organized than ever.

If you hadn’t heard, Senate Business and Commerce Committee chairman, Senator John Carona, (Rep-D16-Dallas County) asked fellow committee member, Senator Leticia Van de Putte (Dem-D26-Bexar County), to form a working group of industry stakeholders to evaluate the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. Production, wholesale and retail tier members from distilled spirits, malt beverage and wine have been actively engaged with one another since.

On the malt beverage side, I am encouraged by an unprecedented level of openness and communication between the different tiers. For the first time since I’ve been involved, stakeholders have willingly come together and been open about their goals and concerns and, more importantly, we all acknowledge that it’s okay for us to disagree on certain points. In fact, recognize where we disagree is the first step in coming to a middle ground we can all agree on.

Some of the best news is the sense of all around agreement is that craft beer is here to stay and that it is an important part of wholesaler’s growth plans. Not only is craft beer driving all of the growth in the craft beer segment, but the success of craft beer is what drives the big breweries to continually develop new products – and those new products are the only growing portion of big beer’s portfolio. Craft beer is a win, win for everyone.

I know there hasn’t been a ton of activity on this blog, but look for things to be picking up as we advance closer to the session and then my goal is to have daily posts once the session starts.

Cheers,

Scott

 


Please do not buy Freetail beers on eBay

It has been brought to my attention that someone is selling, or trying to sell, our beers on eBay. I heard about it with Ananke (which we still have bottles of sitting on our shelves) and I found a listing for a 2011 La Muerta with a starting bid of $49.99.

Please do not buy these. First of all, La Muerta isn’t worth $49.99. It’s worth exactly $11+tax, the price we sell it for. I highly advise that no one ever pay a cent more (and there are no competitive issues with me saying that, since we are the only ones legally able to sell it).

Second of all, this is flat out f’ed up and I’m fully in support of TABC going after this person for the unlicensed sale of alcohol. If I find out who you are, I will make sure you are banned from ever buying our bottles again.

We take great pride in what we do and hate to see our hard work tarnished by someone trying to make a quick buck. I have no problem with the trading community (so long as traders don’t begin to crowd out our local customers) and in fact am very flattered to see our beers end up all over the country. But when someone buys our beers to try to flip them for financial gain, you’ve completely gone against what we are about.


Beer Reform Your City

Would you trust a high-end restaurant whose wine list consisted only of White Zinfandel out of a box? Then why would you trust the same restaurant if their beer list consisted of nothing but industrial light lagers and mega-brand imports? At least as much as wine (though I’d argue even more so), craft beer offers a wide and diverse range of flavor profiles that, when smartly employed, can greatly enhance a dining experience. The Chef who ignores craft beer is the equivalent of the Chef who thinks Prego is “good enough” for his sauces. Time to hold Chef’s to a higher standard.

As reported by Beer Business Daily, from 2009 to 2011 the number of breweries in the US increased by 22%, and the number of available packages increased by 25%. Meanwhile, shelf space increased by only 3.6%.  On-premise dining will play a huge role in the future growth of craft beer. The Brewers Association’s Julie Herz notes that in 2010, only 169 of the top 250 restaurant chains features craft beer on their menus, highlighting the growth potential available in this segment.

It doesn’t surprise me, however, that craft beer is slow to make inroads as massive chains like Chili’s. Economies of scale dictate centralized buying decisions for big chains, which in turn makes them slow to respond to trends (even if, in the case of craft beer, the “trend” has been going on for over a decade). That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Even Applebee’s [edit: spelled Applebee’s wrong, showing how much I go to Applebee’s] is starting to take a per-location based approached to their beer list, making the effort to focus on local brands. Major win.

My beef is with the artisan chefs who are often locally celebrated. These chefs are the respected as innovators and pure representations of a community’s local flavor and terroir. Sadly, I see far too many of them with beer lists that look like an Orwellian blend of a 1970’s suburban sports bar and a college frat party. Why do we accept this as consumers? Not only do they do a disservice to their cuisine and clientele, but insofar as they are viewed as culinary leaders, they set a poor example for other restaurants in their community. Major fail.

Reform Your City

Today I’m announcing my personal quest to reform the beer landscape in my town, San Antonio. I won’t stop until all of my city’s top restaurants and most celebrated chefs are smartly featuring craft beer. If a chef or beverage program manager feels lost in the world of craft beer, I personally volunteer my services to help you establish a quality beer program. [Note, I can’t legally sell you beer from my own brewery, so there is no secret agenda here] It doesn’t have to be expansive to be respectable. It doesn’t have to require a single cent of capital investment. If you are serving ANY beer at your establishment now, we can transform your beer list.

If you want to enlist my services, or just to report your progress in featuring craft beer, tweet me @beermonkey or shoot me an email at news at freetailbrewing dot com. I’ll establish and maintain a webpage with list of craft beer-friendly restaurants and happily feature you on it.

Consumers, challenge your favorite chefs to be part of reform in San Antonio. Non-San Antonians, start a similar campaign in your city.

Together we can do this.

Cheers,

Scott


Texas Beer & The 2015 Challenge

We are Texas, and our Star shines bright.

As of December 31, 2011, Texas was home to 71 licensed small craft breweries (which, for the purposes of my analysis, include breweries less than 75,000 barrels of annual production, up from 47 just a year earlier. That number includes 34 brewpubs (up from 28 at year end 2010) and 37 production breweries (almost double from the 19 licensed production breweries at the end of 2010). in 2011, Texas small craft brewers produced 130 thousand barrels of beer, compared to 93 thousand just the previous year.

The growth of our industry has been amazing and has not gone unnoticed, yet I submit to you the following proclamation: we are underachieving.

31 Texas counties are home to a small craft brewery, but that’s out of 254. Not good enough.

That 130 thousand barrels produced by Texas small craft brewers? That represents a paltry 1.2% of the craft beer industry and a pathetic 0.06% market share in the overall US beer market. Not good enough.

Those 71 small breweries? We still rank 46th in breweries per capita in the US. Not. Good. Enough.

Since I only speak on behalf of myself and my brewery, I won’t call the following list a set of goals. Instead, let’s call them a challenge.

By 2015, I challenge Texas to the following:

  • Be home to 160 actively licensed small craft breweries.
  • Produce 250,000 barrels of beer from small craft breweries.
  • Have a small craft brewery in 40 Texas counties (this one is admittedly harder, since breweries tend to open in more populated areas, for obvious reasons).

These three challenges are achievable, but it will take the effort of numerous parties. To be successful, I’m challenging the following groups to do their part.

  • Texas Small Craft Brewers: your challenge is obvious.
  • Texas beer distributors: you are our ally in the growth of the industry, and our growth cannot happen without you. Commit to carrying and featuring Texas brands.
  • Texas beer retailers: you are the front line. Abandon the old school way of retailing beers and the intimidating walls of industrial light lager. Give brewers a fair and equitable display with no unfair preference to brands who kick you illegal incentives. Provide consumers easy, clear access to the brands they want.
  • Texas Legislators: you are challenged with the task of establishing fair, competitive industry reforms that allow Texas small craft brewers to grow their brands. That means allowing production breweries to establish tasting rooms and sell directly to consumers on premise and allowing brewpubs to sell into the wholesale tier. There is almost $1 billion in economic impact at stake for helping Texas meet the 2015 Challenge (based on my annual Economic Impact Study – latest version to be published in March/April).
  • Texas beer consumers: you have the best job in achieving the challenge. Continue drinking and supporting Texas small craft brewers.

Together, we can do this. Share the message of the 2015 Challenge with friends, colleagues, industry members, and anyone you know who cares about Texas Craft Beer.

Drink Beer, Save Texas.


AleHeads Podcast

Wanna hear me talk about stuff? I didn’t think so. In any event, if you feel like hearing my opinion on Freetail, beer trading, Texas laws, the craft beer industry and dinosaurs, you can listen here:

THE ALEHEADS PODCAST- SCOTT METZGER, FREETAIL BREWING CO.

Cheers.


2011 Rewind & Beer Industry Predictions for 2012

2011 is in the books, and it was an eventful one for the beer industry as the craft segment continues to explode and the traditional powerhouses continue to cling to market share. My list of the year’s top stories looks something like this, in no particular order:

Without question, there are a lot of other huge stories that I’m not addressing as was a busy year. There was some major projects for me personally as well: I was involved in an (unsuccessful) legislative effort, (unsuccessfully) attempted to open another brewery 200 miles from where I live, was a witness on a high profile industry lawsuit, began installing a bottling line at our existing brewery. Fit that in between teaching at the University, serving on two Brewers Association committees, giving a TEDx talk, and the whole “running a business” thing. Despite two major unsuccessful ventures, I consider 2011 to have been a smashing success and I’m looking forward to 2012.

Speaking of which, here are my Beer Industry Predictions for 2012:

  • Craft Beer Will Simultaneously Become More National and More Local. The continued growth of Craft Beer brings with it some growing pains. We will see an increasing number of breweries “pulling back” from markets on the outer reaches of their distribution territory in order to keep up with demand closer to home. Some of this newly available shelf space will be filled by an increased proliferation of the “big” craft brands like Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, etc. and imports. Simultaneously, some of the shelf space will be filled by local brands, either new breweries or existing ones finding increased access to market.
  • Setbacks for Start-ups. Despite the optimism of some of my peers in the industry, I share the cautious skepticism of others who wonder if the market can support what amounts to a 50% increase in the number of breweries in America (if all the “in planning” came fruition). My personal feeling based on anecdotal evidence as someone who has given multiple Start-up talks at national conventions & gets a lot of inquires for advice is that the growth of the industry has once again drawn the attention of a lot of people who really shouldn’t get into the industry. I’m not suggesting there are or should be “rules” on who can start a brewery; but I do have a (completely unsupported by anything like empirical evidence) feeling that start-ups backed by people who see a breweries as nothing more than investments for the potential for high-return fail at a significantly higher rate than those of us who got into this business for the love of the industry. That isn’t to say that every start-up doesn’t have someone who loves the industry (though I know that isn’t the case), but there is a certain corrosive element that having the wrong people involved in a start-up can bring and it is becoming increasingly common. I think we’ll see some quick, and even high-profile with shiny new equipment, failures in the coming years.
  • Natural Selection. I also predict an increased number of closures of established breweries in 2012 as competition becomes more intense. There are a lot of newbies (5 years old or less) making incredible beer pushing established breweries to up their game, or fade away into history. The result will be excellence on a more consistent basis from craft breweries. You’re favorite brands will either continue to get better, or they’ll just go away.
  • A Glut of Equipment. The good news about my last prediction, is that if you are a start-up there should be a glut of equipment coming available as breweries fail. Some free start-up advice from yours truly: be a contrarian! If there is no used equipment available, it’s a bad time to start a brewery, because it means everyone else is starting breweries.
  • Despite These Factors, Craft Continues to Blow Up. Based on the Wall Street Journal growth numbers quoted above, Craft Beer should enter 2012 with a market share around 5.1% by volume and 8.0% by dollars. I predict another year of high-teens growth, maybe even 20% as craft beer becomes increasingly mainstream, and craft will enter 2013 with dollar share of 10%.
  • Distributors Start to Play Nice. In many states, there has long been an uneasy relationship between brewers and distributors, especially in the legislative arena where distributors feel empowering breweries puts their place in the 3-tier system at risk. I see 2012 as the year distributors in lagging states “see the light” and drop their opposition to legislative changes that would help small brands. Operationally, I predict increased pressure from InBev on its distributors to focus on their brands and wouldn’t discount the possibility of threats on those distributors if they don’t focus on InBev’s portfolio. Even so, I see craft beer & brand promiscuity accounting for an increasing percentage of wholesalers’ portfolios.
  • Texas Will Change in 2013, and We’ll Know About it in 2012. Before the end of the year, craft brewers, distributors, retailers, consumers & lawmakers will have agreed upon legislation that allows production brewers to sell directly to consumers on the brewery premise and for brewpubs to sell their beer to distributors for resale. Texas will be free from the shackles of the past… which leads me to:
  • BONUS 2013 PREDICTION: Texas experiences a craft beer Renaissance. Some of you may already think we are there, with all the new brewers popping up around the state… but by the end of 2013, you’ll look back and realize that we hadn’t seen anything yet.

Cheers,

Scott

 


Crafting Better Businsess: Insights from the Craft Beer Industry

Here is a talk I did at TEDxSanAntonio this year. It discusses how we can look at the beer industry of how to overcome the propensity for businesses to achieve for economies of scale, thereby lessening their value to the community. Hope you enjoy it.


Judge Sparks’ Greatest Hits!

And now for the lighter side. As I alluded to previously, Judge Sparks’ judgement is full of all kinds of funny lines. If this whole judging thing ever gets old to him, he’s got a career in comedy.

Judge Sparks wastes no time getting into the humor (and a little jab), and offers this in his background on the case:

The practice of law is often dry, and it is the rare case that presents an issue of genuine interest to the public. This is just such a case, however. Dealing as it does with constitutional challenges to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, it is anything but “dry”and this Court wouldnever be so foolish as to question the sincerity of Texans’ interest in beer.

Given this obvious public interest, it is both surprising, and unfortunate for proponents of the Alcoholic Beverage Code, that the State of Texas does not appear to have taken as much of an interest in this case as it might have.

Judge Sparks did limit comedy to his commentary, and titled one section of his Judgement as:

2. Beers and Liquors and Wines, Oh My!

On the defense’s argument that The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code is constitution because it is the Texas Alcohol Beverage Code:

In a remarkable (though logically dubious) demonstration of circular reasoninga tactic it repeats throughout its briefing, and which it echoed in open court TABC attempts to defend the constitutional legitimacy of the Code through an appeal to the statutory authority of the Code itself.

On the idea that the state should have the authority to define words however the legislature sees fit (and in what can only be seen as a tip of the hat to Freetail Brewing Co… right?):

Second, TABC’s argument, combined with artful legislative drafting, could be used to justify any restriction on commercial speech. For instance, Texas would likely face no (legal) obstacle if it wished to pass a law defining the word “milk” to mean “a nocturnal flying mammal that eatsinsects and employs echolocation.” Under TABC’s logic, Texas would then be authorized not only to prohibit use of the word “milk” by producers of a certain liquid dairy product, but also to require Austin promoters to advertise the famous annual “Milk Festival” on the Congress Avenue bridge. Regardless of one’s feelings about milk or bats, this result is inconsistent with the guarantees of the First Amendment.

This one isn’t so humorous as it is an insight into the larger issue that I have dealt with extensively: the restrictions of brewpubs to sell their beer to distributors or retailers for resale based on 3-tier arguments. Judge Sparks questions whether or not the concerns purported by the WBDT as reasons for not letting brewpubs sell their beer to distributors and retailers is a valid one.

Although unquestionablytrue whenthe Code was first written, andthe evils oforganized crime’s involvement in the alcoholic beverage industry were both immediate and substantial, it is less clear that vertical integration of the alcoholic beverage industry still poses a grave threat to Texas’s interests. In any case, in light of wineries’ exemption from these regulations, this purported interest is suspect.

In response to the defendant’s argument that the “Beer” and “Ale” distinctions are important for consumers to know how strong a product is in terms of alcohol, the Court reponds (my favorite part highlighted by me):

Although a typical member of the public may not be able, off the cuff, to state the average alcohol content of popular Texas malt beverages, the Court is confident that same person could, if presented with the alcohol content of a variety of malt beverages, come to a reasonably quick and accurate conclusion regarding their average range. Having determined the average range, this person could then make an intelligent choice whether to deviate from that range, in which direction, and by how much. The Court simply does not share TABC’s apparently low estimation of Texans, and remains steadfast in its belief that they are capable of basic math.

On why TABC’s lawyers presented what appears to be a less-than-full effort:

Regrettably, TABC has almost wholly failed to submit such evidence, and has often failed even to respond to Authentic’s arguments. Whether this failure reflects a tactical error, laziness, an implicit concession that the Code cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny, an erroneous assumption that TABC is entitled to special treatment, or a mere oversight, the Court cannot say. However, under the circumstances here, the Court is obligated to grant summary judgment in favor of Authentic on its First Amendment challenges.

On why just because TABC doesn’t know why it enforces stuff, it doesn’t make it unconstitutional:

However, as noted above, the state need not come forward with any record evidence whatsoever in defense of the Code. Further, just because particular individuals within the Texas governmenteven those of high rank within the administrative agency that enforces the law may not be able to articulate a reason for the Code’s disparate treatment, that does not mean no reason exists. Indeed, although it may well be desirable, there is no constitutional requirement that a personwho enforces of a law must also know the legislative purpose behind it.

Again, on defendant’s level of effort in defense:

The Court is shocked and dismayed at the Texas Attorney General’s halfhearted conduct in this case. The very purpose of having the Attorney General’s Office defend suits like this, is so the State of Texas can vigorously defend its duly enacted legislative mandates. Here, however, when TABC responded to Authentic’s challenges at all, it responded with little in the way of argument, and even less in the way of relevant evidence. The State of Texas is lucky the burden of proof was on Authentic for many of its claims, or else the Alcoholic Beverage Code might have fared even worse than it has.

Final note: I don’t feel the Attorney General let the TABC down as much as Judge Sparks thinks they did. Judge Sparks thinks the AG left arguments on the table, but I would contend THERE WERE NO ARGUMENTS TO PUT ON THE TABLE!

Been a fun day. Cheers everyone.


Aftershock of Judge Sparks’ Ruling

As seen in the post immediately preceding this one, Judge Sparks has sided with the plaintiffs, Authentic Beverage, on the 1st Ammendment claims of their lawsuit filed in Federal Court.

To summarize, the ruling has the following effects:

  1. TABC cannot prohibit you from telling customers or advertising where they can buy your products
  2. TABC cannot require you to label your products by their definition of “beer” and “ale”
  3. TABC cannot prohibit you from advertising the strength of your products by prohibiting words like “strong”, “prewar strength”, “full strength”, etc

If you read my blog post on thoughts from the motions hearing in this case, you might remember I raised some questions about point #1, specifically in respect to the potential for brewers or distributors to advertise on behalf of retailers in order to provide a benefit to the retailer. I maintain that it is not far fetched for a Big Distributor or Big Brewer rep to say “hey, carry our beers and we’ll include you in our ad” as an inducement to gain tap space.

In spite of Judge Sparks’ ruling, such behavior remains illegal – but its enforcement may prove difficult. I agree with the general sentiment that brewers should be able to tell you where you can find their products, but I maintain a real danger exists that this may open the door to less than scrupulous activity. If you’re a normal reader of this blog, you know my feelings on ethical behavior and its primacy in the marketplace. I hope this does not open a can of worms that results in the eradication of small, local brands from tap walls and bottle shops as larger brands “buy out” the space with inclusion in ads. I think it is a lot to ask of any enforcement agency to be able to effectively track down, prosecute, and prove guilty violators of this behavior – as we’ve seen it is already difficult for them to enforce the laws restricting other illegal inducements (see the No Label tap targeting case).

The biggest win on these points is for the Texas beer consumer, as it should open to the doors to more brands coming into Texas. This may, in fact, make Texas a more competitive market place and put more strain on start-ups fighting for space in bars, restaurants and other retailers. However, you will not find me arguing against the lifting of restrictions of competition. I don’t believe in laws that reduce competition for wholesale or retail tiers, and I certainly don’t believe in anti-competitive laws so far as they concern the production tier. Quite simply: let the best beer win.

It was not a total victory for the plaintiffs, brewers, and Texas beer consumers, however, as Judge Sparks sided with the state on the claim that the restrictions on permissible activities of breweries and brewpubs. Authentic’s lawyers argued the restriction of breweries from selling to consumers and brewpubs from selling to resellers (wholesalers or retailers) was a violation of the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause and the Commerce Clause.

In essence, Judge Sparks did not go so far as to say that the state’s restrictions on breweries and brewpubs were constitutional, just that the plaintiffs did not satisfy the burden of proving they are unconstitutional. As critical as Judge Sparks was of the defense in their arguments in the 1st Amendment issues, he was just as critical of the plaintiffs in their arguments on these claims. To quote Judge Sparks:

Because Authentic has failed to present sufficient evidence in support of its Equal Protection claims, it is clearly not entitled to judgment as a matter of law. It further appears TABC is entitled to such judgment, by reason of its cross-motion, and because of Authentic’s failure to meet its evidentiary burden. Accordingly, the Court grants summary judgment in favor of TABC on Authentic’s Equal Protection claims.

While the illogical restrictions on the activities of breweries and brewpubs in Texas may have withstood legal challenge this time, Judge Sparks has provided a lot of kindling for the fire when the next legislative session rolls around. My fellow Texas Beer Freedom members and I have already begun discussing strategy for the next Legislative Session, and we have the continued support of San Antonio Representative Mike Villarreal, who is steadfast in his commitment to fair, logical beer laws.  In 2013 I think you will find Texas Craft Brewers more united than ever before and our chances of reforming the law and finding an equitable solution are better than ever.

I’d like to give some thanks and credit. First, to Jim Houchins and Rachel Fisher of Authentic Beverage and Pete Kennedy of Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody for taking on this case. They are deserving of all the endearing credit that I hope you all bestow upon them. They took this lawsuit up not because a brewer asked them to, but because they believed in the cause. Additional thanks to Jester King Craft Brewery and Zax for volunteering to be co-plaintiffs in the suit so that it could have standing.

And finally, in what I think is an overdue thank you, thank you to all the other brewers in Texas who were involved in this effort behind the scenes. There is more than meets the eye in this case, and a lot more Texas breweries were involved than you know about, providing feedback and assistance to Authentic and Mr. Kennedy when asked. They did so without the expectation or desire for credit or applause from the crowd, but rather they did so because of a belief in the cause. You won’t find their names on press releases or blog postings nor will you ever get their names from me even though I know them. The community of Texas Craft Brewers is a tight knit group – perhaps too tight at times and I know newcomers to the scene may at times find themselves “outsiders” to the club – and that tight knitting is what provides the support system for efforts like this one, or HB 660, HB 602, HB 2436, the Texas Craft Brewers Festival, and countless other to be possible. A tip of my hat to all my fellow brewers. I often jokingly brag to folks how I have the coolest job in the world, and a big part of that is because I have the coolest peers in the world.

Cheers!

PS: In a few hours I’ll post “Judge Sparks’ Greatest Hits”. His judgement is a demonstration of some extraordinary wit, and some comments are just too good not to share.