October 19-20, over two beautiful fall days in Wichita, I visited half a dozen breweries and attended a meeting of the Kansas Craft Brewers Guild (KCBG).
Kansas Craft Brewers Guild Meeting
Adjacent to the KCBG fundraiser, Prairieland Beer & Music Festival, about fifteen KCBG member breweries came together to listen and learn about issues and programs of impact to the Kansas beer industry. Speakers included KCBG board chair and founder of Wichita Brewing, Jeremy Horn; guild director and long-time counsel, Phil Bradley; and me, Acacia Coast, Brewers Association (BA) guilds manager.
Kansas is now home to more than 36 breweries, who produced 46,725 barrels of craft beer in 2017. In my humble opinion, it may be one of the most underrated great beer states in the country – with 41 Great American Beer Festival® medals and 11 World Beer Cup® awards, the state’s ability to make great beer is not to be understated. And my visit yielded exactly that: countless great beers.
At the meeting, Phil kicked off the content by graciously offering me the stage to provide a BA update on federal affairs, national events, and brewery business resources. Phil then covered advocacy issues the guild is watching or working on, including catering license issues, taxes, and 3.2 ABV beer (which is increasing to 6.0 ABV in 2019). He plans to survey guild members on what’s keeping them up at night to discern where the KCBG can provide the most benefit to the membership as a whole.
For promoting local-made beer, the guild also produced beer hang tags for retail off-premise sale. The hang tags are branded with “Made In Kansas” language to encourage consumers to support their community. For the next rendition of tags, the guild plans to include the BA’s independent craft brewer seal.
Kansas Craft Brewers Guild Events
This year’s Prairieland fest included nearly 40 breweries from across the state of Kansas, with a few select others from around the region. It was the first guild fundraiser in Wichita, and with the help of a glorious, sunshiney day and numerous great bands, was a huge success for the guild.
In addition to that event, the guild hosts the Kansas Craft Brewers Exposition in Lawrence in March, held in cooperation with the Downtown Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau.
To add to the success and talents of the state’s professional brewers, Wichita resident Michael Rogers was named the 2018 Homebrewer of the Year at the American Homebrewers Association’s Homebrew Con hosted in Portland this summer — beating out 3,517 other homebrewers from across the world.