As 2011 wrapped up, the national guilds roster had grown by five, with Louisiana, Tennessee, Delaware, Utah, and Kansas establishing state small brewers associations. More than three-quarters of the 50 U.S. states now have some form of a small craft brewers guild. They are growing more unified in their collective voice, communicating more effectively, and raising funds more successfully, not to mention brewing amazing craft beer.
All of our nation’s guilds participate in various levels of networking, supporting the interests of craft brewers in the state or region, promoting local beer, and fighting for favorable laws and lower excise tax rates. For me, the opportunity to travel to guild meetings and festivals in 2011 was immensely rewarding. It has been greatly valuable to up-and-coming guilds for Pete Johnson, Paul Gatza, Charlie Papazian, and I to bring the national perspective from the Brewers Association, in order to further support the guilds’ initiatives and share the successes of the more seasoned associations.
Last fall, I landed in Ohio, California, Colorado and New Mexico for their state guild meetings. In Ohio, from a beautiful meeting space high above the Great Lakes Brewing Co., I assisted with their elections and also supported the group in fleshing out voting, membership and bylaws. In New Mexico, we successfully reestablished the guild from a sleepy status, and got an executive director elected. With its booming craft scene and dedicated staff hours, New Mexico will undoubtedly be among our greatest national guilds before long. California and Colorado allowed me to join in their meetings to see firsthand how some of our nation’s most successful guilds do it right.
I traveled to Phoenix in December to discuss upcoming legislative initiatives and a new guild research project. January will take Pete Johnson north to the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Conference, while I’ll be headed even farther north to Anchorage for the annual meeting of the Brewers Guild of Alaska. Spring will likely take us to Florida, Hawaii, Missouri, New York, and of course San Diego for the World Beer Cup and Craft Brewers Conference.
We still have plenty of room on the schedule! Please send me your meeting dates so we can do our best to put your guild meetings onto our 2012 calendar.
Contact information for the state guilds is available on the Find a Guild page on BrewersAssociation.org. For those states without a formal organization, the Start a Guild page will walk you through some of the steps toward starting a state guild/association. Then, give me a call—I’ll come out and help get your guild established!
Guilds across the U.S. are hosting outstanding events to raise funds and support their cause. Oregon hosted its annual meeting alongside the Holiday Ale Fest in November, while in February, the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild has its 10th annual Winterfest, and the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild hosts its Strong Beer Festival.
We had an overwhelming response to the 2011 Great American Beer Festival Support Your Local Brewery Pavilion, with record attendance and more than 137 different guild-member beers not offered anywhere else on the festival floor. As part of the Brewers Association’s commitment to support U.S. guilds, we make this opportunity available because organized, active guilds are one of the most important means of protecting and promoting a state or region’s breweries.
The guilds presented a multi-faceted educational experience to the tens of thousands of beer enthusiasts attending each of the four sessions, and breweries that wouldn’t otherwise make it to GABF had the opportunity to showcase their special brews. We already have a handful of newly participating guilds for 2012 and I look forward to many more signing up when the invitation goes out this summer. Be sure to save the date for your guild to join us at the 2012 GABF Support Your Local Brewery Pavilion, October 11-13.
Guilds National Meetings
In addition to the 24 guild meetings that members of the Brewers Association staff attended in 2011, we also hosted two national meetings in conjunction with the Craft Brewers Conference and GABF. For 2012, we’re adding a national guild meeting at SAVOR as well. These are excellent opportunities for guild leaders to come together and discuss all the matters affecting their guilds across the nation. So many states are dealing with the same issues that set precedence as they sweep across the nation; together the guilds can make the craft community resilient and prosperous.
Finally, I’d like to send out a barrel full of gratitude to those states that have invited my colleagues and me to join your meetings and festivals. We truly enjoy meeting all of our members and supporting the grassroots exponential growth of a craft that we are so passionate about. May our paths meet often over a delicious local brew!
On the Radar
Here is a list of the U.S. states that do not currently have a state brewers guild.
Acacia Coast is the state brewers associations coordinator for the Brewers Association from her home base in Chatsworth, Calif. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.