The second week of January saw the Michigan Brewers Guild jump start 2012 with their annual winter conference held along the shores of Grand Traverse Bay near Bellaire, MI. Set in the beautiful woodlands of northern Michigan, the conference offered attendees not only the opportunity to learn about guild activity planned for 2012 and a variety of issues important to small brewers in the state, but also a chance to relax in each other’s company and spend an evening skiing, snowboarding and catching up with colleagues.
Similar in structure to the Brewers Association’s Craft Brewers Conference, the Michigan Guild winter conference program consisted of educational seminars that ran the gamut from technical brewing issues like assuring quality in packaged beer and a draft beer flavor evaluation to sessions on how to make your brewery media friendly and financing your brewery expansion. Consumer-oriented issues weren’t left out either, with a session on making the most of social media.
The BA’s Pete Johnson attended the conference, updating guild members on the national legislative and regulatory landscape as part of the government affairs roundtable discussion. That session also highlighted guild accomplishments of 2011 and the ongoing work of the guild in the political and legislative arena. A major ongoing initiative for the guild is participation in the Governor’s Liquor Control Advisory Rules Committee which has undertaken a broad review of the rules governing manufacturing, distribution and sale of alcohol and the related licensing provisions. The culmination of the committee’s work will be specific recommendations made to the Governor for rules changes to create a more efficient and effective regulatory system in the state. The guild and small brewers are represented on the committee by Matt Greff (Arbor Brewing Co.).
The guild also held an election of Board members at the meeting, with the following results:
• Eric Briggeman, Brewmaster at Rochester Mills Beer Co. in Rochester, is continuing his fourth term on the board and will serve his fifth year as Guild President.
• Steve Berthel, Brewmaster and Partner at The Livery in Benton Harbor, was elected to his third term on the board of directors.
• Scott Newman-Bale, Vice President of Short’s Brewing Company in Bellaire, was elected to his second term on the board and will continue to serve as treasurer.
• Isaac Hartman, “Ambassador of Great Beer” from New Holland Brewing Company, is continuing his second term on the board of directors.
• Greg Burke, Brewmaster at Woodward Avenue Brewers, is continuing his second term on the board and will continue to serve as secretary.
2012 holds great promise for Michigan’s small brewers with a variety of State House activities and legislative proposals already on the docket and with the guild leading the charge, success is sure to follow.