The Missouri Craft Brewers Guild held its first annual member meeting and conference November 7-8 in Columbia, with speakers covering a wide array of topics spanning brewery operations, state regulatory topics and environmental stewardship issues. An afternoon tour of four local breweries was also enjoyed by attendees, followed by a social hour and dinner at Logboat Brewing Co.
A key session at the conference consisted of a presentation by the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC), followed by a Q&A. The presence of the ATC at the conference underscored the fact that both the agency and the guild recognize the importance of direct communication and dialogue to the proper and efficient functioning of the alcohol regulatory system. In fact, the guild has already participated in ATC stakeholder meetings to discuss issues involving suppliers, distributors, and retailers. Having a seat at that table ensures that the interests of small brewers will be heard at the state’s highest regulatory level.
Along with the educational and social components of the meeting, guild members also discussed priorities for 2020. On the legislative front, the guild appointed members to the newly-formed legislative committee, which will spearhead an effort to work with distributors on a number of trade practice issues expected to be the subject of legislation next year. The guild also intends to hold a Craft Beer Day at the capitol in Jefferson City to educate legislators on the issues of importance to Missouri’s small brewers.
Other guild priorities discussed involve increasing core brewery membership, instituting regular quarterly member meetings rotating through the state’s regions, further developing allied trade membership, instituting an enthusiast member category, investigating beer tourism opportunities like a beer trail map or app, and last but certainly not least, organizing a guild fundraising beer festival and Show-Me Craft Beer Month events.
Recognizing that the guild is closing out the first year in which a full-time executive director has been at the helm, the Missouri Craft Brewers Guild has made tremendous progress in that time and is clearly building the programs, resources, and relationships which will carry it into the future.