Hoping to inspire unity and collaboration, I joined the Granite State Brewers Association (GSBA) for a voting-member meeting in April. The GSBA formed relatively recently, in late 2013, and is still in the challenging initial formation stage of building a nonprofit brewers guild. As with many fledgling guilds across the country, the GSBA has found attracting and maintaining a volunteer board is certainly difficult with business owners occupied conducting the business necessary to keep their brewery doors open. The GSBA board and members recognize the necessity for a unified voice and continue the association’s current momentum.
Hosted in the beautiful new LEED certified Smuttynose Towle Farm brewery, two dozen breweries and over 50 brewery representatives made the journey to Hampton, N.H., just south of Portsmouth, for the gathering. Alongside the GSBA updates and dialogue, we were treated to great New Hampshire beers and a delicious dinner in the brewery, catered by the Towle Farm restaurant Hayseed.
The GSBA currently has two committees—government affairs and marketing—and is hoping to add festival and technical committees soon. Since sharing a border with beer mecca Vermont makes it a bit challenging for New Hampshire to capture beer tourism dollars, the marketing committee has developed the New Hampshire brewery trail passport. The map features approximately 28 breweries and offers various prizes for retrieval of brewery stamps.
In the past, the GSBA has partnered with a local charity to put on their fundraising summer festival. In 2014, they hosted 1,000 attendees and 30 breweries. This year’s festival is July 25 and the GSBA is looking forward to showcasing their member beers once again in in Arms Park in Manchester, N.H.
Dave Currier, chair of the government affairs committee, presented the legislative report. Multiple bills have been drafted that impact craft brewers, and the committee keeps a close eye on these for the GSBA members.
Recent N.H. Legislation
- Signed by the Governor, House Bill 177 authorizes sales of samples of alcoholic beverages by manufacturers. Samples sold by beverage manufacturers would be for on-premises consumption.
- Signed into law, H.B. 429 calls for reviving the commission to review and consider alcoholic beverage manufacturing processes and retail sales at manufacturing facilities.
- Dying in Senate committee, House Bill 554 sought to authorize the sale of beer in refillable containers.
- Passing the Senate and under consideration in the House, Senate Bill 99 establishes a committee to study allowing the sampling of beer or wine at farmer’s markets.
I presented a few Brewers Association updates, sharing best practices from guilds nationwide, as well as updates in the regulatory and federal environment.
Following my visit in April, Hillary Clinton was on an East Coast tour and stopped in to Smuttynose Brewing Co. in Hampton, N.H. After a tour of the brewery, Clinton held a roundtable discussion to discuss various issues including obstacles small businesses face.
The Granite State Brewers Association’s mission is to “protect, promote, represent, educate and advocate on behalf of and to its members, customers and allied parties of the brewing industry and carry out all activities related thereto.” With a successful fundraising event, and a host of individuals willing to put in the time needed to get to the next level of association development, the GSBA stands primed for achieving their mission to be a high-impact organization.