Small brewers and Brewers Association staff recently joined wholesalers from across the country at the 2012 National Beer Wholesalers Association’s (NBWA) Legislative Conference to discuss issues important to the first and second tiers.
The conference kicked off with the traditional welcome receptions, with the Brewers Association (BA) pouring member beers from 14 breweries. Local BA members Bill Butcher, Port City Brewing Co. (Alexandria, VA), Rick Garvin, Mad Fox Brewing Co. (Falls Church, VA) and Mike Killelea, Legend Brewing Co. (Richmond, VA) joined out-of-towners Mark Stutrud and Tom Thomasser, Summit Brewing Co. (St. Paul, MN) and Joe Menetre, New Belgium Brewing Co. (Ft. Collins, CO) at the reception. More than 100 wholesalers came to sample the diverse variety of craft beers on offer and to socialize with the small brewers and BA staff.
On the first day of the conference, BA President Charlie Papazian, BA Board Chair Sam Calagione and immediate past Chair Nick Matt participated in a panel discussion with NBWA’s President Craig Purser and NBWA Board Chair Steve Lytle. The spirited discussion covered issues of mutual interest to the first and second tiers, from the importance of independent wholesalers to market access issues, including franchise laws. Underlying the discussion was a recognition of the need for small brewers and wholesalers to work together to achieve their shared goals, while always remaining focused on success in the marketplace.
The remaining days of the conference involved visiting Members of Congress and their staff and networking with industry associations and individual wholesalers and brewers. For small brewers, this meant visits to legislators on the excise tax legislation now working its way through Congress and meetings with staff of the Senate Bipartisan Small Brewers Caucus, the Beer Institute and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Finally, two separate evening receptions for Senate and House members and staff were held, with BA member craft beer prominent at both. Always popular with reception attendees, the craft beer stations experienced heavy traffic as the full flavored beers of America’s small brewers beckoned the denizens of Capitol Hill.