Brewers Association (BA) staff traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to engage lawmakers, Congressional staff and regulators on a variety of issues and in a number of venues. Anchored on the annual Taste of the Holidays Congressional reception, BA staff also participated in a joint meeting of the House Small Brewers Caucus and the Bipartisan Senate Small Brewers Caucus, met with individual legislators to discuss the small brewer excise tax recalibration legislation and discussed small brewer issues with Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) officials.
The joint Caucus meeting came at an opportune time. With the comment period on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) revised proposed rule on regulating spent grain closing in just a few days, the Caucuses convened the meeting around that issue, inviting Michael Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, Paul Gatza, BA director and Bill Butcher, owner of Alexandria, Va.’s Port City Brewing Co. to participate in a panel discussion. The discussion gave Mr. Gatza the chance to reiterate points made in the BA’s formal comments, including that the general exemption for alcohol beverage facilities in the Food Safety Modernization Act should apply to spent grain.
BA staff also met with TTB Beer Program staff to discuss issues ranging from efforts to streamline and modernize requirements for small brewers and the consideration of further ingredient formula exemptions to TTB funding in the current fiscal year.
Closing out a busy couple of days, the BA’s Taste of the Holidays reception offers craft beer from BA members from across the nation to Members of Congress and staff. One of the most anticipated events on Capitol Hill, the reception boasts an attendance of about 800 and provides an unparalleled opportunity to educate elected officials and staff on small brewer issues. With beer from 25 small brewers being poured, the flavor and diversity of American small brewing was front and center for those attending the event.