The meeting included nearly 100 people, representing over 60 breweries, brewpubs, and Allied Trade businesses. With 108 active TTB licenses, Georgia today ranks 49th (out of 51, counting DC) in licenses per capita, made up of almost 70 active breweries and brewpubs.
For years, Nancy Palmer has expertly led the GCBG as Executive Director, and this year was awarded the Brewers Assocation’s FX Matt Defense of the Craft Brewing Industry Award for her excellence in advocating for craft brewers in Gerogia.
Nancy shared more about the recent meeting: “We started the meeting with an update from the current board of directors, as well as elections for our 2018-2019 board. Bob Sandage from Wrecking Bar will stay on as president, and both Kevin Ryan of Service Brewing and Trey Sinclair of Dry County will continue on as board members. We add new blood with Carey Falcone of New Realm, Brian Borngesser of Gate City, Franklin Dismuke of Eagle Creek, and Nathan Cowan of Eventide. Very exciting!”
Also speaking at the meeting were BA’s Chief Economist, Bart Watson, and BA’s Quality Ambassador, Neil Witte. Nancy reflected, “Our members really benefited from the talks by Neil and Bart. As a guild leader, I’m always working to drive Georgia’s participation in and support of the Brewers Association. Programs like this really demonstrate the value that the BA brings to our industry every day.”
In his presentation, Bart talked about the state of the craft beer industry, both nationally and specifically to Georgia. Regarding his visit, Bart says, “I think the primary challenge for the guild going forward is to figure out how to balance the needs of their current members versus the needs of the membership they know will be coming online in the coming years.” With nearly 40 breweries in planning, taprooms will likely be key to continued growth of local brewery sales outside of the brewery (in retail outlets). Thankfully, due to Nancy and GCBG’s massive advocacy efforts, Georgia’s brewers finally—just last year—secured the right to sell their beer direct to consumers in their taprooms.
Neil’s presentation on beer quality, which he gives at guild meetings all over the country, emphasized ways that every brewery can implement a multi-layered quality program. He explained how even the smallest brewery can implement similar best practices as the big guys, even with a small-business budget.
The presentations at the event benefited more than just the breweries in attendance. “I think the Allied Trade members really enjoyed seeing what goes into making beer and running a brewery, beyond just their little sliver of the brewing world,” Nancy explained. “The bankers, insurance attendees and accountants, for example, got to learn a little about quality assurance. It really opened their eyes to what goes into day-to-day brewery operations.”
Finally, as fundraising is a constant source of struggle for brewers guilds, GCBG talked about numerous programs that they have coming up to drum up income. Kicking off August 18 is the “Georgia Beer Fortnight” in celebration of Georgia beer (because a week isn’t enough). They also continue their concerted efforts to increase merchandise sales, with the goal to outsell the Brewers of Indiana Guild’s successful merchandise program.