The Wisconsin Brewers Guild recently held their final quarterly member meeting of 2016 in Milwaukee, recapping what was a solid year for the guild and outlining a robust agenda for 2017.
The first order of business was to ratify five new brewery members and nine new affiliate members, significantly strengthening their membership ranks to a total of 110, and closing 2016 on a strong note. After months of work, the guild plans to launch a mobile app in early 2017 which will be a key element in breathing new life into WI Beer Lovers (WIBL), the enthusiast member program. In the past, WIBL has provided a healthy revenue stream and members have been an important grassroots voice in the promotion of Wisconsin beer and breweries. The guild also plans to upgrade its website and web-based capabilities, with a specific focus on member-to member communication.
On the government affairs front, a priority for next year is to continue educating legislators on the issues and the guild plans to hold a legislative day at the capital. Another goal will be to reinstate regular meetings with regulators. Guild President Marc Buterra of O’so Brewing Company updated the group on continuing efforts to build stronger relationships with the Wisconsin Beer Distributors Association and the Tavern League, with a goal of finding common ground that could become part of a 2017 legislative effort. Finally, Past President Jeff Hamilton of Sprecher Brewing Company, and a member of the Brewers Association Government Affairs Committee, provided a summary of current national issues affecting small brewers including menu labeling, the ABI-SAB merger and the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act.
A lively discussion ensued concerning the crowded festival landscape and how the guild could better benefit from its members’ participation at events across the state. A project with direct financial benefit to the guild in 2016, which will be replicated in 2017, is the brewing of a collaboration beer, Common Thread. Available for sale at guild member breweries, the guild is also considering a wider distribution of the beer, both to increase revenue and as a way for the guild, as opposed to individual breweries, to work with distributors.
The meeting closed following unanimous agreement that the guild pursue the development of a strategic plan, spearheaded by President Marc Buterra, to guide its committees and overall operations more effectively. With 2017 just over the horizon, it’s full speed ahead for the Wisconsin Brewers Guild!