The Massachusetts Brewers Guild (MBG) marked its 10th anniversary at their 2017 annual meeting, hosting a record-breaking number of attendees with more than 160 brewers and allied trade participating in the half day event. Held at Lord Hobo Brewing Co. in Woburn, many of the founders of the craft brewing industry in Massachusetts joined brewers and owners of the many recently opened breweries from all across the Commonwealth for an educational afternoon.
The keynote speaker was State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, who oversees the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC). He addressed guild members on the task force being assembled to undertake a comprehensive review of the state’s “convoluted, prohibition-era” alcohol laws. Although no industry members are on the task force itself, working groups with industry representation will be formed to provide input on issues of importance to all segments of the industry. Treasurer Goldberg stressed that this will be an involved process and legislation will be necessary to make some of the anticipated changes and also shared that the task force will seek input on the operations of the ABCC itself.
Government affairs has long been a strength of the MBG and 2017 will be no exception. The guild is in the process of refiling bills introduced last legislative session related to franchise modernization, farmer market sales and growler sales. License reform is another issue of interest falling under the jurisdiction of the state task force and will require legislation.
Some recent legislative accomplishments include the strengthening of tenant brewer beer transfer abilities and codifying the ability to donate beer for charitable events. Although not a guild initiative, a bill has been filed which would essentially require the relationship between a brewer and a distributor to be governed by contract alone rather than through the provisions currently embodied in the franchise law.
After ten years, the guild is hitting the refresh button on several of its properties. A reworking of its website with a view to provide more value to both consumers and the individual brewery members of the guild is underway and a new logo was recently debuted. The MBG will also look to further develop its festivals with a western Massachusetts venue added for 2017. Finally, a new membership development program will institute regional ambassador positions, current members who will work in their specific geographic areas to recruit new members.
The afternoon closed with an educational panel of brewers discussing the challenges and rewards of developing sour beer programs. Although the meeting was over, the work of the guild never stops. In fact, the very next day MBG members were scheduled to address freshman state legislators in an educational forum on industry issues. And so, while celebrating the past, Massachusetts brewers have their eyes fixed firmly on the future.