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Beer will save America!

Craft brews "will help create jobs," says Sen. Kerry; but we've heard that line in bars before

In a bipartisan moment, US Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are backing tax breaks for small beer makers. The bill "will help create jobs," Kerry's office says here.

"So-called craft brewers are one of the few industries to thrive through the recession. The segment grew from 7.2% by volume last year and 5.9% in 2008," insists the Wall St. Journal's blog here. "The segment has even become a haven for budding entrepreneurs that have been let go from corporate jobs. 'There's not that many success stories in American manufacturing today and craft beer is one of them," says Jim Koch, whose Boston Beer Co. makes Sam Adams beers. He's been lobbying for the tax break, no surprise. Brewers Association, the craft brewers' lobby, is pleased.

We've been this way before. Remember Philadelphia's Red Bell Brewing Co.? Read about the sell-off of its equipment by Industrial Auctioneers here. How about Independence Brewing? Both were among the many beermakers backed by the taxpayer-subsidized U.S. Small Business Administration in the late 1990s; both also sold shares to the general public; both are among the many investor- and taxpayer-subsidized brands that flopped.

What's the big deal with small-batch beers? Yes, they probably taste better. Yes, they're definitely winning market share from Bud and Miller and Coors over the years. So much that the giants have been closing and consolidating plants and selling out to foreign owners. But does that really add up to more and better jobs that merit public subsidies?