Last year, Ohio’s 110 craft brewers produced 1.2+ million barrels of beer. This makes them the forth largest state for overall production, and at 4.7 gallons per adult, tenth for per capita consumption. According to the Brewers Association, the Ohio craft brewing industry supported more than 11,000 jobs in 2014 and contributed $1.2 billion to the local economy.
The Ohio Craft Brewers Association (OCBA), has been protecting and promoting Ohio’s small independent brewers since 2007. The organization is led by Executive Director Mary MacDonald, with the support of 11 board members. Since I started attending their meetings in 2011, I have witnessed the progress and maturation of the association and the state’s industry thanks to the strategic focus of Mary, OCBA President Eric Bean of Columbus Brewing Co. and the board of directors.
This fall, for the 5th year, I joined the association in Cleveland for a full day of dialogue on the state’s industry, starting with a legislative committee meeting, followed by a board meeting, two educational seminars and an all-member meeting.
The event began at Brew Kettle in Strongsville, where the legislative committee met with the association’s lobbyist to learn the landscape of the upcoming legislative session and exchange ideas on how to best represent members’ interests.
The Ohio Craft Brewers Association is active in organizing and participating in fundraisers for policy makers, facilitating tours and town hall meetings at breweries state-wide. Accordingly, the OCBA has been paramount in developing industry supporters out of the state’s representatives, both locally and federally.
The OCBA will be hosting four major fundraising events throughout the year. Coming up next is the 10th Anniversary OCBA Winter Warmer Fest, March 5, 2016 in Cleveland. Prior to the festival, the OCBA will be hosting their second annual technical conference, with a focus on quality and safety. To be held in Dayton February 3-4, 2016, Boston Beer founder Jim Koch will be keynoting, and Brewers Association Safety Ambassador Matt Stinchfield will be presenting two seminars, BA Safety Resources and Basic Safety Equipment for Startups. Mary is developing trade show and sponsorship participation to connect suppliers of goods and services to the brewers that need them.
The board is working to execute a new campaign to promote Ohio brewers and develop awareness for the association’s brand. As with many other brewers guilds across the country, the OCBA is weighing the options of developing a passport program and/or a mobile app.
At the member meeting, I provided updates from our association on regulatory matters, new BA staff, upcoming national events and commended the association for their vast organizational progress. The OCBA stands as a powerhouse association, with multiple champions in Columbus and D.C. who are dedicated to improving the business environment for the brewing industry.