Brewers Association Presents 2024 Industry Award Winners

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Tonya Cornett, Laura Lodge, Eric Orlando, and John Pinkerton receive honors

Boulder, Colo. The Brewers Association (BA)—the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American craft brewers—is proud to announce the recipients of this year’s Industry Awards. Since 1987, the association has recognized individuals who have positively contributed to the craft beer community. The 2024 award recipients will be honored for their dedication and service during a special ceremony on April 23, 2024, at the Craft Brewers Conference® (CBC) in Las Vegas.

“Year after year, our Industry Awards shine a spotlight on the trailblazers of the craft beer community,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO, Brewers Association. “This year’s honorees aren’t just making waves; they’re reshaping the landscape of brewing excellence, advocating for crucial legislative changes, and adding texture to the vibrant tapestry of our craft beer family. We look forward to watching these visionary leaders continue to shape and inspire our community for years to come.”

2024 Industry Award Recipients

Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing
Tonya Cornett, 10 Barrel Brewing Co. (Bend, Ore.)

This award is presented in honor of Wynkoop Brewing Company founding partner Russell Schehrer to an individual or company for their innovative contributions to the brewing industry.

Tonya Cornett, this year’s Innovation in Craft Brewing award winner, developed an affinity for beer in the mid-1990s in Colorado, where she worked her first brewery job at H.C. Berger Brewing in Fort Collins. Following a two-year stint at Oaken Barrel Brewing Company in her home state of Indiana, Tonya committed academically to brewing. She attended the World Brewing Academy, a partnership between Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, and Doemens Academy in Munich, Germany. Upon graduating, Tonya assumed the brewmaster position at Bend Brewing Company in Oregon, where she honed her craft and earned eight gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival® and four gold medals at the World Beer Cup®. From there, the accolades kept coming—throughout her career, she is personally responsible for an exceptional 28 medals combined in these competitions.

In 2008, Tonya became the first woman to be awarded the title of the World Beer Cup Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year. During these formative years at the brewpub level, Tonya explored traditional and experimental brewing methods and was one of the first brewers in the country to brew kettle sours, a style now embraced across the globe.

In 2012, she took her skills and passion for recipe design to 10 Barrel Brewing Company in Oregon as the senior innovation brewer. She now leads a team of exceptionally talented brewers. Tonya has been featured in two documentaries, “The Love of Beer,” chronicling her last year at Bend Brewing Co., and “Beers of Joy,” which follows her to Germany, learning about traditional Berliner Weisse beers. Tonya has been credited with helping to bring Oregon beer into the national spotlight.

Brewers Association Recognition Award
John Pinkerton, Moon River Brewing Co. (Savannah, Ga.)

This award is presented each year to an individual or company whose inspiration, enthusiasm, and support have contributed to the craft brewing movement.

Recognition Award winner John Pinkerton is the owner and brewmaster emeritus of Moon River Brewing Company in Savannah, Georgia. He was the Brewers Association Board of Directors’ first member representing the Southeastern states. During his tenure from 2009 through 2014, John chaired the Brewpubs Committee, served on the Government Affairs Committee, and held a position on the Technical Committee. John was the founder and first president of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, where he has led transformational change for the craft brewing community in Georgia, including growing guild membership by over 400%.

John’s relentless advocacy and positive spirit have played a pivotal role in enacting legislation in the Peach State, notably the “Brewpub Bill” (HB472) in 2012. He was also integral in setting the foundation for the critical “Beer Jobs Bill” (SB63) in 2015 and SB85 in 2017, which allowed breweries in Georgia to sell their products for on-premise consumption, marking the completion of a 50-state initiative to recognize this right for every brewer.

Separately from his legislative achievements, John has fostered community in many ways. For the homebrewing community, he has provided a meeting place for the local group, Savannah Brewers League, for more than 22 years. He has sponsored, contributed to, and held countless competitions and small homebrewing festivals in the Savannah area. For his community of staff, Pinkerton went the extra mile during the COVID-19 pandemic when he ensured all furloughed staff members had insurance coverage by covering the total cost of each premium at significant cost to Moon River.

F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award
Eric Orlando, The Zita Group, and the Brewers Guild of New Jersey

This award, named for the late F.X. Matt of F.X. Matt Brewing Co., is presented to an individual or company for their contributions and efforts in championing the small brewing industry.

F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award winner Eric Orlando is a tireless industry advocate with more than two decades of experience providing legislative and public affairs counsel as it relates to policy development, grassroots outreach, coalition development, direct advocacy, press relations, and research. He is the executive vice president of The Zita Group, a lobbying firm in New Jersey. In addition, Eric serves as the government affairs director for the Brewers Guild of New Jersey and sits as a board member of the New Jersey Tourism Industry Association and Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Eric’s advocacy efforts have resulted in significant legislative wins for the craft beer community. In 2012, he advocated for the passage of Public Law 2012, Chapter 47, which, for the first time in the state’s history, gave breweries the ability to sell pints of their beer for consumption on-premise and brewpubs the ability to open up to ten locations in New Jersey. Then, in 2022, Eric gained state financial support for the industry through the passage of Public Law 2021, Chapter 438, which established the ‘New Jersey Brewery, Cidery, Meadery, and Distillery Industry Advisory Council and Promotion Account’ that utilized craft beverage alcohol excise tax revenue to promote the state’s craft beverage industry and fund research activities. Most recently, in 2023, Eric led New Jersey’s government affairs and strategic communications efforts to end state-imposed license restrictions through the signing of Public Law 2023, Chapter 290.

Eric was named on the annual ROI-NJ Influencers Power List in 2023 and his dedication to promoting and protecting small and independent craft brewers makes him a respected leader in the Garden State and beyond.

Brewers Association Mentor of the Year Award
Laura Lodge, owner of Customized Craft Beer Programs, LLC

Through its mentorship program, the Brewers Association connects dozens of mentors with individuals seeking to develop their knowledge and skills and those seeking to break into the craft brewing industry for the first time. The Mentor of the Year Award recognizes a volunteer mentor for their outstanding mentorship to program participants and for demonstrating an extraordinary commitment to championing those who experience barriers to access and advancement in their professional journeys.

This year’s Mentor of the Year, Laura Lodge, began her craft beer journey in the late 1990s, working with a small, independent distribution company in Colorado. Today, Laura owns Customized Craft Beer Programs, a consulting business offering insight for and assistance with all things craft beer. Lodge has experience in all three distribution tiers including consulting for breweries and distributors, creating retail programs for destination resorts, and participating in the creation and production of educational and experiential craft beer events throughout the country, such as the well-known Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival, for which she is the executive director.

During the pandemic, Laura co-founded Start A Brewery, LLC, a business designed to help dreamers, breweries-in-planning, and growing breweries by offering access to a community of savvy industry professionals and free resources broken down by business phase and category. This venture has proven beneficial both for the general public and Laura’s participation in the Brewers Association Mentorship Program.

“Laura was by far my best mentor. She went above and beyond the scope of our planned subject and gave me amazing guidance,” said one mentee. “With her help, I went from feeling lost and disheartened to feeling like I had actionable goals and a real possibility of a legitimate business plan. I left the program feeling like I had a career-long friend I could rely on, and I look forward to continuing a relationship with her outside the program.”

Award recipients were nominated by their peers and determined by votes from committees comprised of members of the Brewers Association board of directors, the craft brewing community, and past award winners.

Please visit here for more information on past winners and nominations for the 2025 awards.

In addition to the individual industry awards, the Brewers Association conducts two prestigious national and international professional brewing competitions: the Great American Beer Festival Competition and the World Beer Cup®.

Media contact: Meg Papanastassiou (on behalf of the Brewers Association) 970-963-4873 x1212

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About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers, and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The BA represents 5,600-plus U.S. breweries. The BA’s independent craft brewer seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers. The Brewers Association organizes events, including the World Beer Cup®Great American Beer Festival®Craft Brewers Conference® & BrewExpo America®National Homebrew Competition, and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer® and Zymurgy® magazines, and Brewers Publications® is the leading publisher of brewing literature in the U.S. Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at® and about homebrewing via the American Homebrewers Association®. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

The Brewers Association is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital/familial status. The BA complies with provisions of Executive Order 13672 and the rules, regulations, and relevant orders of the Secretary of Labor.

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