Brewers Association

State Guilds Network and Build Support for Local Breweries at the GABF

State Guilds Network and Build Support for Local Breweries at the GABF

The Guild Pavilion

In what numerous press articles touted as a treasure within the festival, a record 16 state and regional craft brewers guilds participated in the Support Your Local Brewery (SYLB) Pavilion this year at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). Guild officers, board members, and directors were pouring over 215 different beers from their craft brewers association members, many of whom didn’t have a booth elsewhere on the floor. Every single beer served in the Pavilion was unique to the festival floor, and many of those beers were extremely special release batches that will never be poured again. A few were medal winners from this year and many won medals in past GABF competitions.

Although it is an immense undertaking for guilds, the Guild Pavilion is an extraordinary opportunity to market and promote their members to 49,000+ craft beer enthusiasts. Each guild participating in the Pavilion spends many hours of time and effort in gathering member beers, as well as a significant investment of resources. Brian Butenschoen, with the Oregon Brewers Guild, has been in every SYLB Guild Pavilion since its inception:  “For the Oregon Brewers Guild it’s a huge marketing opportunity for us – it's a chance for our brewers to talk about what brewers are doing in Oregon. We have a takeaway map/brochure that people can leave with that has two pages of events that can help people decide when they want to visit Oregon.”

Brian continues, “Having a booth at the GABF is also a benefit of guild membership for brewery members –for participating breweries, it's another beer they can pour that's not at their booth, another chance to talk to consumers…it's another way to give back to the breweries that support the Guild.”

The Support Your Local Brewery booth, located as the end cap of the 16 guilds in the Guild Pavilion, served to recruit craft beer enthusiasts to the SYLB network. By signing up with their email and zip code to be craft beer advocates, these supporters receive an Action Alert email request from their state’s guild to contact their elected officials when national or state legislative or regulatory issues  impact small, independent craft breweries. If you’re not already a SYLB activist, please consider signing up here!

National Guild Gathering

Over coffee and bagels, national guild leaders and the Brewers Association Government Affairs team came together on the Friday of this year’s GABF to discuss state and federal matters concerning their craft brewery members. The BA offers these national gatherings as a unique opportunity for guild leadership to learn from and network with other association leaders. Despite some good-natured chiding for not pouring beer at the morning meeting, over 20 different states represented and more than 40 guild leaders attended this 2012 GABF National Guilds Gathering.

BA staff covered myriad topics for the first hour and a panel of three guild leaders from three of the nation’s more developed associations guided discussions for the 2nd hour. The BA updates included guild progress across the nation, BA supported resources available for guilds, upcoming BA event dates, government affairs updates, and 2012 legislative successes driven by state guilds. The panel members gave an overview of their state guild membership and goals, then answered questions about how their guild successfully handled common struggles other guild leaders were facing.

Standing currently at 43 US guilds, Kentucky, Connecticut, Missouri, and Idaho were welcomed as new state craft brewers associations this year. The Brewers Association staff traveled to 25 guild meetings in 2012, with an estimated 30+ by the end of the year. Though we currently have 7 states left without a guild (OK, RI, MS, ND, SD, WV, WY), at least three (OK, RI, MS) are progressing in their formational discussions. The goal is to have 50 active state guilds as soon as possible, promoting and protecting their craft brewery members at the local level.

An emphasis was placed on the resources provided to guilds by the Brewers Association. Both existing guilds and those in the conceptual or formative stages can access nine dedicated pages on BrewersAssociation.org.  In addition, guilds have reciprocal membership with the BA, and thus have access to all Members Only content, including Power Hours, powerful craft beer stats, the New Brewer online, the BA Forum, and BA media lists.

The government affairs updates centered on the federal topics that are impacting craft brewery members, such as increasingly frequent FDA inspections, franchise laws, excise tax legislation, and the crucially important initiative of inviting elected officials to visit their local breweries.  Maintaining uniform messaging when referring to craft brewing, emphasizing small  and independent and remaining consistent in this messaging with external outreach was another important topic of discussion. Finally, guild leaders from New York and New Jersey both reported on pro-craft legislation that passed this year, sharing their process and outlining their new laws.

These meetings are held at each of the three BA events each year, and present excellent opportunities for guild leadership to collaborate on topics affecting their members. There seems to never be enough time, we always have lively discussions that could easily continue long past our end time. In 2013, we’ll offer guild leaders the opportunity to come together at the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) to be held March 27-30 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC. Stay tuned for further details on the upcoming CBC and be sure to support your state craft brewers association!

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