Brewers Guild Update: Florida

Support and development of State Brewers Guilds remains a major focus of the Brewers Association in 2012. The addition of Acacia Coast, the trade group’s State Brewers Association Coordinator has helped the BA become more of a resource for existing and fledgling guilds. Acacia has been busy crisscrossing the country attending state brewers association meetings with many of them centered on initial guild formation.

Recently, Acacia provided an update on the Florida Brewers Guild.

On March 4th, 2012, I had the great pleasure of attending the Florida Brewers Guild annual meeting, held adjacent to their sold out guild festival in Centro Ybor, Tampa. This festival has been running successfully for years, and this year it kicked off a hugely successful 1st annual Tampa Bay Beer Week held March 3-10.  At the meeting, there were approximately 24 breweries represented, with over 50 people in attendance.  Guild discussions included their past year’s successes, upcoming events, legislation, membership, voting on new board members, and their scholarship program.

In 2011 the guild hired an attorney, Josh Aubuchon, to help keep an eye on the industry for the craft brewers.  At this meeting, Josh shared his experiences with shaping laws for other associations. He encouraged the brewers and owners to visit their representatives, explaining how important it is to educate their law makers. Often, Josh said, they don’t even know there’s a brewery in their district. He encouraged everyone to know and keep in touch with the lawmakers in their districts as many staffers are craft beer drinkers.  

He also educated the group on the concept of forming a guild Political Action Committee (PAC). Josh encouraged the guild to expand membership in order to fundraise and bring together more of the community. Associate members can include beer bars, homebrew clubs, craft beer liquor stores, retailers, suppliers, and wholesalers. There are many challenges in the state of Florida in finding common ground with the wholesalers, but Josh continues to guide the craft beer community in the right direction.

The results of an informal survey, sent to guilds, showed Florida as one of only a couple states with restrictive growler laws. This is one of the issue the guild is working on currently; we hope to have an update soon. Read more about the Florida growler laws in this Tampa Bay Times article.

Due to the guild’s success in fundraising efforts, they have decided to give back to the community through scholarships. The Florida Brewers Guild has teamed up with the Siebel Institute of Technology to provide two different scholarships – one full tuition scholarship for the World Brewing Academy Concise Course in Brewing Technology held each fall in Chicago and one for the online concise course in brewing at Siebel. Congratulations to the recipients of the 2012 scholarships: Keegan Malone from Brewer’s Pizza was awarded the scholarship to Chicago, and Rogers Conolly from Pensacola Bay Brewing was awarded the web based scholarship.

In 2012, the guild will be working on crafting positive pro-craft legislation, boosting membership, and collecting valuable economic impact data. In order to provide more opportunity for marketing and education, they hope to update the website and Florida brewer’s trail map pamphlet .

Planning has already begun for the 2013 guild festival and other fundraising events.  Florida is a blossoming market for craft beer. With their highly awarded breweries, successful fundraising events, and a proactive guild, they will make great strides towards growing and shaping the state’s craft beer industry.