The Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild (MCBG) held its general meeting last week in St. Paul, electing a slate of Board members who will carry the guild through the next several years. The meeting was led by Omar Ansari of Surly Brewing Co., current President of the guild, and was attended by a significant majority of the member breweries. Bob DuVernois of Great Waters Brewing Co. generously hosted the meeting.
In addition to the election, the membership was asked to provide input on a revised and updated set of bylaws, learned of a new program to provide scholarships for MCBG members to attend technical and educational conferences and listened to a presentation about creating a robust and far-reaching marketing and media program for the guild and its members. A general meeting wouldn't be complete without a Treasurer's Report and the focus here was on the recent Autumn Brew Review Beer Festival which broke all previous attendance records. The growth and success of the festival is certainly good news for the guild, as it is a significant fundraiser for guild operations.
Also attending the meeting was Pete Johnson, one of the Brewers Association (BA) government affairs team, who updated the guild on several federal initiatives the BA is currently working on, including the Association's continuing work with the House Small Brewers Caucus (which recently hit the 100 member mark) and the newly formed Senate Small Brewers Caucus, as well as a cooperative effort with the Tax and Trade Bureau to improve how the agency and small brewers interact on a variety of issues.
Pete also spoke about the small brewer excise tax recalibration legislation (H.R. 1236 and S. 534) and the progress made to build support and add co-sponsors. MCBG members Omar Ansari, Dan Justesen (Vine Park Brewing Co.), Mark Stutrud and Kelly Larson (both of Summit Brewing Co.) have traveled to Washington to personally visit their elected officials and discuss the importance of these bills to the state's small brewery businesses. Their efforts, along with the calls and emails of other Minnesota small brewers, has led to four Minnesota Representatives and one Senator signing on in support, the most recent officially coming on the day after the guild's meeting!
Without question, the small brewers of Minnesota have created a strong, proactive and effective organization to promote their interests. Minnesota craft beer is clearly in good hands and will undoubtedly continue to flourish as the new MCBG board takes the reins and builds on an already impressive list of accomplishments.