Nearly two decades ago, long before the harmonious partnership of beer at the dinner table was recognized, Nat Collins and Bill Woodring decided they wanted to host a beer and food festival. Bill recalls, “It all began with five of us sitting in a bar and drinking, like all great ideas.” They joined forces with the Culinary Institute of America and brewers in the state and founded TAP NY, now in its 18th year.
Held at Hunter Mountain ski resort each April, TAP NY features over 100 breweries, making it a prime opportunity for the New York State Brewers Association (NYSBA) to host their annual meeting. Nat and Bill also donate a percent of proceeds to the NYSBA.
Over 200 brewers reside in New York as of January, up from less than 100 in 2012. The NYSBA released a small brewer economic impact study for 2013 with resounding results. In the independently contracted study, the NYSBA boasts the total economic impact of the state’s small brewers at $3.5 billion for 2013. The press release notes this is an increase of almost 60% from 2012. With 67 new breweries opening in 2014, the economic impact is sure to increase. The study estimates over $450 million spent on beer tourism in 2013 with 3.66 mil brewery visits. New York breweries paid $748 million in state and local taxes, and another $204 mil in federal taxes. Brewers also paid $554 million in wages for 11,366 full-time equivalent jobs.
The association’s mission—to protect, promote, represent and educate its members and customers— is successfully executed under the expert helm of NYSBA Executive Director Paul Leone. Keeping a watchful eye over 200 brewers is not without its challenges, but Paul commends New York’s craft beer community, “The growth of the New York State brewing industry has been tremendous these past few years, and the level of support we’re receiving from local brewers is inspiring, to say the least. New York is a large state with many different regions and attitudes. That kind of diversity and the continued support from the Governor’s office is the reason we’re seeing so much success and brewery openings right now.”
Paul opened the NYSBA meeting with ideas for small brewery businesses to find funding through grants and small business loans. This is one of the most frequent requests for guidance that Paul receives as the NYSBA director.
The NYSBA coordinates marketing outreach through online videos, festivals, social networks, state campaigns, golf tournaments and other various fundraisers. The association hosts about four festivals of their own each year, and sanctions other festivals that give a portion of proceeds back to the association. Brewer members can confidently and proudly support the various for-profit events the NYSBA sanctions throughout the state, knowing their association is a beneficiary.
New York is also home to dozens of designated farm breweries. The Farm Brewing Law was passed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2012 and put in to effect January 1, 2013. It was designed to increase demand for locally grown products to further increase economic impact and create new businesses surrounding the brewing industry. Under the new law, in order to receive a Farm Brewery license in New York, the beer must be made primarily from locally grown farm products, with specific percentages of ingredients mandated within the bill. Its proven difficult for local farms to actually produce ingredients with the quality brewers desire, and meeting those percentages has brought some difficulties. The concept is widely embraced, however, and the beautiful New York farm breweries are destinations making quality beer.
Guild meeting presenters also included yours truly, as well as Steve Miller with a state hops and malt report, Mark James with the farm bureau, Ray Salaberrios of Empire State Development on brewery business fundraising opportunities, Brendan Palfreyman with an overview of effectively navigating trademark laws and a hearty round of applause for TAP NY founders, Bill and Nat.
The NYSBA is truly a high impact nonprofit association, with strong champions at the capitol, and small brewer growth surpassing almost every other state in the country.
To learn more about the NYSBA, please visit thinknydrinkny.com.