Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Virginia: Frozen Beer Pops Break the Law
It gets hot in Alexandria, Va., this time of year. Restaurateur Frank Morales came up with a great idea for a new menu offering at his Rustico Restaurant: frozen beer pops.
There's just one problem: The Virginia Alcohol Bureau of Control says that beer pops are illegal.
Rustico has a menu shaped around fresh American ingredients and cooking styles that lean toward Italy. They also have 30 taps and an extensive bottle selection. Morales came up with the idea to make beer pops using raspberry and plum flavored Belgian lambics, plus a fudge-flavored offering with a stout base. Rustico sells a small for $4 and a large for $6. The new offering was unique enough that an Associated Press decided to do a story on Rustico's beer pops.
This is where the old saying that all publicity is good publicity goes wrong. The AP reporter called the Virginia ABC enforcement folks to see what regulations governed frozen beer. That set off government regulations just waiting to stifle fun and creativity.
Virginia ABC rules state that beer must be served in its original container or served to customers immediately after it is poured from its original container. This is likely a good rule to stop bars from passing off cheaper beer to customers. Obviously, this is not the intent at Rustico, but the Virginia ABC is dispatching an investigator to the restaurant.
Currently, Rustico's beer pops are 100 percent beer. Morales and his culinary team are looking at ways to add other ingredients to see if that can skirt the Virginia ABC's regulations. They point out that beer is used in several recipes at the restaurant and has never been challenged.
Let's hope cooler heads prevail at the Virginia ABC and culinary creativity can live on at Rustico.