Ryan Scrambles To Get GOP Health Care Act Passed, Craft Beer Saturation Point, More School Vouchers Causing Tension

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Since Wisconsin expanded its school voucher program, private schools receiving tuition subsidy money are on the rise. However, so are tensions in communities where it feels like the program is chipping away at public school districts. We discuss the effects of school vouchers and how they’re changing the state’s education. Wisconsin has a long history of brewing beer, and the recent craft beer boom has brought many newcomers to the business. With production continuing to grow, will supply soon outpace demand? Our guest shares thoughts on the future of the beer industry. We also look into what’s at stake for House Speaker Paul Ryan as he scrambles to gather the votes needed to pass the GOP’s replacement health care plan.

Featured in this Show

  • GOP Health Care Act: What’s At Stake For Paul Ryan

    House Speaker Paul Ryan faces an uphill battle in Congress today as he scrambles for enough votes to pass the GOP replacement health care plan. A lot is riding on this moment for Ryan who has to prove that the new administration can deliver on its promises; moreover, that it can actually govern.

  • Craft Brewing Still Going Strong In Wisconsin

    Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe ranks 12th in the top 50 craft brewing companies in the United States, according to the Brewers Association annual ranking released this month.

    It’s the highest showing for Wisconsin in the 2016 craft brewing category that’s based on beer sales volume, published by the trade group representing small, independent brewers.

    Beer making has enjoyed a long history in Wisconsin, and the boom of craft breweries over the past few decades doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Regional beer writer Robin Shepard tracks craft brewing trends and says two new breweries open every day in the U.S.

    “Anyone who’s walked into a grocery store or a beer store lately certainly sees the impact and the interest in craft beer. It’s amazing what our choices are in front of us,” Shepard said.

    Shepard doesn’t see a saturation point yet with about 5,000 breweries nationwide.

    “When we crossed the threshold of 2,500 breweries several years ago in the U.S., everybody started talking about is there a bubble out there? When is this going to crash?” Shepard said, who’s written a series of guides to the beer industry, including “Wisconsin’s Best Breweries and Brewpubs: Searching for the Perfect Pint” published in 2001.

    Of the top 50 brewing companies in the Brewers Association’s ranking, 40 are craft brewing operations. The Brewers Association chief economist Bart Watson credits independent brewers for helping build the craft brewing industry to what it is today.

    “Embracing their experience and ability to thrive and overcome challenges, the top producing craft brewers will continue to inspire, innovate and influence the future of beer,” Watson said in a release.

    Shepard notes the double-digit growth rates in brewery barrelage in recent years. He finds production rates today are slightly down for some craft breweries, but not firmly across the board.

    New Glarus Brewing jumped up four spots to No. 16 in the craft brewing category after producing more than 219,000 barrels of beer last year, a 12 percent increase over 2015.

    The most popular craft beer right now is “anything hoppy,” said Shepard. Shepard said it’s the millennial demographic that is overwhelmingly reaching for craft brews, making up 57 percent of the market of consumers, according to a 2016 industry survey.

    “When you go out to have a beer with friends, if you go out to a tap house, you’re beginning to see that young crowd who is excited about local and finding beers. That’s driving it a lot. Beer tourism is exploding right now,” Shepard said.

    A State of the Industry report will be delivered during the annual craft brewers conference in April in Washington. The Association’s full 2016 industry analysis will be published in May.

  • Have We Reached Peak Craft Beer?

    Beer making has enjoyed a long history in Wisconsin, and the boom of craft breweries over the past few decades doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. But with so many craft breweries popping up in Wisconsin, will we see craft beer production outpace the demand?

    We talk to a beer writer about the craft beer boom in Wisconsin, and if we’re reaching a possible saturation point.

  • Friction Grows Between Public Schools Districts And Voucher Schools

    As the number of private schools participating in Wisconsin’s voucher programs continues to rise, our guest reports on growing community tensions between public school districts and voucher schools.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Marika Suval Producer
  • Karl Christenson Producer
  • Veronica Rueckert Producer
  • Craig Gilbert Guest
  • Robin Shepard Guest
  • Erin Richards Guest
  • Veronica Rueckert Interviewer