The Hightower Lowdown on Red Beer

Yesterday, I caught up with Jim Hightower in the beer garden at the DC Green Festival, where we sampled some organic ales from Wolaver’s. He was doing a talk in about half an hour so it appears he was prepping by drinking beer. There’s a reason I like this guy.

In fact I’m grateful to Jim because he was kind enough to review a manuscript of Fermenting Revolution and provide some words of advance praise that appeared in the book.

Jim has lots of good things to say about the craft brewing movement. He even headlined the Craft Brewers Conference last year in Austin.

Jim Hightower

That’s my brother Tim on the left, Jim in the middle and me on the right, and behind Jim’s cowboy hat I think that’s Ken from Wolaver’s, who properly chastised me for wearing a Dogfish Head t-shirt to the Wolaver’s booth!

The current issue of Jim’s newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, charts the largest corporate political donations by party from brand-name companies in 2006. Some relevant findings:

RED Donors

  • Molson Coors gave $168,597 – 83% of it went to the Grand Old Party.
    If you want to kick Republican beer in the can, here are the brands to avoid:
    Coors, Molson, Carling, Killians Irish Red, Blue Moon, Keyston, Zima, Winterfest.
  • UST Inc. gave $531,500 – 86% went to the GOP. Wine brands:
    Chateau St Michelle, Columbia Crest, Col Solare, Conn Creek, Distant Bay, Domaine St Michelle, 14 Hands, Northstar, Red Diamond, Saint M, Snoqualmie, Stimson Estate Cellars, Villa Mt Eden, Boonaroo, Spring Valley Vineyard, Antinori.
  • National Beer Wholesalers Assn. $3,064,250 – 69% to GOP.
  • Wine and Spirit Wholesalers $665,858 – 69% went to the GOP.
  • Cargill, a major supplier of brewers malt, gave $270,799 – 80% to the GOP.
  • Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world, and a major beer seller, donated $1,427,026 – 71% went to GOP.
  • Marriott International $230,950 – 82% to GOP.
  • Darden Restaurants $265,629 – 75% to GOP. Restaurants:
    Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Smokey Bones, Bahama Breeze
  • Outback Steakhouse $595,864 – 95% to GOP.
  • Pizza Hut $106,500 – 93% to GOP.

BLUE Donors

  • E & O Gallo Winery gave $175,120 – 94% went to Dems. Their brands:
    Gallo Wines, Bridlewood Estate, Frei Brothers, Indigao Hills, Louis M. Martini, MacMurray Ranch, Turning Leaf, Bella Sera, Black Swan, DaVinci, Ecco Domani, Red Bicyclette, Whitehaven, Carlo Rossi, Livingston Cellars, Peter Vella, Wild Vines, Burlwood, Copperidge, Liberty Creek, William Wycliff Vineyards.
  • Southern Wines and Spirits gave $176,250 – 77% to Dems.
  • Astrale e Terra Winery gave $100,400 – it all went to Dems.
  • Costco, major alcohol wholesaler, $148, 396 – 85% to Dems
  • Riese Organization $90,300 – 100% to Dems. Restaurants:
    Times Square Grill, Lindy’s, Martini’s, Knot Just Pretzels, Roy Rogers, Nathan’s Famous, T.G.I. Friday’s, Charley O’s.

I did a more complete review of all the top breweries in Fermenting Revolution. In addition to Molson Coors noted above, Anheuser-Busch, Heineken, and SABMiller all came up Red, while Boston Beer Co. (Sam Adams), and New Belgium came up solidly Blue.


8 Responses to The Hightower Lowdown on Red Beer

  1. Stonch says:


    What surprises me is that los of organisations give to both parties (albeit not equal amounts, as shown by your percentage figures). It seems strange.

    Essentially it politicises every purchase one chooses to make from donor companies.

  2. timjo62 says:

    You’re lucky to have such a handsome brother.

  3. beeractivist says:

    Tim: Yeah, I guess it runs in the family.

  4. beeractivist says:

    Keith: Thanks! I posted about this right away thanks to your tip.


  5. Coors Light used to be my ballpark beer of choice until I learned of their politics. Then I switched to Miller Lite, which according to is the most climate-friendly of the major breweries. I wonder how the merger will affect the rankings?

  6. beeractivist says:


    I blogged here about Wal-Mart’s use of the Carbon Disclosure Project to evaluate their suppliers:

    and here about Climate Counts:

    What I’d really like to see though, is a comparison of the beer industry as a whole relative to other industries. My sense is that it would show that the beer industry is doing fairly well but it would be helpful to know so we can place our emphasis on those industries that need the most work.


  7. Refrigerator says:

    Reading this i finally took a break from my work. I run a hardware store, and i get kinda stress throughout the day =) this post just gave me a few minutes of relax =] I managed to find a rss feed on your site so that i could subscribe for some more. Ill be sure to come here more often from now on ^__^

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