Craft Beer on Capitol Hill: What’s New in 2017

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We’re almost a quarter of the way through 2017, and it’s been a whirlwind year so far. With the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C. scheduled to take place in less than a month, here’s a quick overview of some of the things we’ve been working on in our nation’s capital to promote small and independent brewers.

The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2017

The legislation, which would lower the federal excise tax for craft brewers and other alcohol producers, is off to a strong start. We currently have more than 105 cosponsors in the House and 26 cosponsors in the Senate. It’s rare for a piece of legislation to have this type of broad bipartisan support. During CBC, more than 200 of your peers will be lobbying on the Hill on behalf of CBMTRA and other issues. You can help their efforts by sending an email in support of the legislation using the Brewers Association’s easy-to-fill-out “Contact Congress” form. There is strength in numbers: help us show D.C. that brewers mean business.

Educating Staff and Members of Congress

The Brewers Association helps the House and Senate Small Brewers Caucuses plan and secure speakers for their events. This year we have already had two meetings:

Beer Law 101: Marc Sorini, an attorney with McDermott Will & Emery, discussed Prohibition and the historical reasons why alcohol is regulated the way it is. He also talked about the differences between state and federal laws, as well as the three-tier system.

Hops & Beer: Representative Dan Newhouse (WA-4) and Alex Barth of the Barth-Haas Group spoke to staff about craft brewing’s impact on hops as an American agricultural product. They discussed how brewers select hops, giving attendees the chance to smell and taste Citra and Cascade hops. The speakers were joined by hop growers from New York, Oregon, and Idaho.

Promoting the Brewers Association on the Hill

Marketing professionals say that it takes a minimum of seven impressions for people to know your brand. When legislators think of craft brewers, we want them to think of you (as well as the Brewers Association), which is why we have been actively working to reach as many members of Congress as possible on a frequent basis to discuss small and independent brewers and the issues that matter to them.

The Goal of 535: Since Congress came back into session in January, the Brewers Association has been working to personally meet with every Congressional office. To date, we have visited well over 100 and have interacted with staff and members of Congress every day that Congress has been in session.

Events: One of the best ways to get people interested in what we do is to share products made by you, our member breweries. The Brewers Association hosted a Welcome Back reception for representatives, with more than 30 members of Congress attending. The BA also worked with another trade association to host an event for freshman members of the House Financial Services Committee. These types of events are a great way to promote the diversity of the craft brewing community. Agriculture, manufacturing, and retail are all impacted by, and have an impact on, small and independent brewers. The more we can educate Congress, the better.

We will continue to work hard to ensure that craft brewers have a voice in Washington, D.C. For those of you joining us for the Craft Brewers Conference, I hope you will find a city that is excited, passionate, and knowledgeable about you and your beers!

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