The beginning of December brought about the 2nd annual North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild (NCCBG) Technical Conference & Meeting, held in Winston-Salem. Over 400 brewing industry members, including 90 breweries, and an additional 70 breweries in planning, were in attendance for this 2-day conference. A large exposition of industry allies and multiple hospitalities were complimentary to the attendees. president of the NCCBG, Erik Meyers, and Executive Director Margo Metzger, executed this professional conference, along with the 8 members of the NCCBG board and event staff.
The first day included educational seminars by Erik on distributor relationships, Brewers Association (BA) Safety Ambassador Matt Stinchfield on brewery safety and BA Quality Ambassador Dick Cantwell on the importance of beer quality.
A festival compliance seminar followed, presented by agents from North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission (ABC) and Alcohol Law Enforcement. There has been enforcement overreach at festivals in the state, leading to some events being shut down. The ABC agent commented, “We’re not trying to come down on you, you’ve just gotten so big, you caught our attention.”
The NCCBG contunies to work to educate and find common ground with the regulatory agencies in order to bring about a better environment for all. In 2016, the NCCBG will be working with the ABC to rewrite and modernize all North Carolina ABC Rules (not statutes).
JB Shireman kicked of the second day with an overview of the current craft brewing landscape, followed by Kim Jordan, who gave a powerful keynote address. Other seminars throughout the conference included, “Importance of On-Premise Draft Quality,” “Kettle Souring,” “Hiring Quality People on Your Team,” and the BA’s Dr. Bart Watson with an update on the “The State of the Industry in North Carolina.”
At the conference opening reception, held at the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts, the NCCBG awarded Asheville Assembly Member McGrady (above) with a legislative advocacy award for securing the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Co. facilities. The next day, at the guild’s celebratory member dinner, awards from the recent professional brewing competition were disseminated.
At the member meeting and state of the guild address, numerous new projects and fundraisers for the guild were revealed. Legislative goals for 2016 will be shepherded by Alex Miller, the full-time lobbyist for the guild. Despite North Carolina having the most pro-brewery business friendly laws in the south, the state still has an uphill battle towards making the laws more beneficial for consumers, suppliers, distributors, law makers and law enforcers.
One simple but effective way NCCBG is working to build trust and relationships with their policy makers is by hosting tours at local breweries for the legislators and their staff. Trophy Brewing recently hosted 8 staffers from leaders of senate and house offices. These staffers partipated in the the brewing of Trophy’s first batch at their new production facility. No surprise–they loved the experience.
The North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild invites all guild leaders from around the south and the country to join their conference each year. Contact me for more information.
NCCBA is strategically guiding the whole state’s industry with remarkable professionalism and strength. I look forward to seeing what 2016 has in store for North Carolina brewers.