Prior to SAVOR, 150 craft brewers, owners and guild leaders came to Washington, D.C. to advocate for the craft brewing community. They met with over 150 members of Congress and over 300 members of Congressional staff. That in itself was a major accomplishment, but what was the most amazing was the feedback that I heard from the attendees!
“We walked into the office and they knew who we were and why we were there.”
“I didn’t have a meeting scheduled with a member of Congress, but he heard that we were there and went out of his way to meet with us.”
“Staff and members of Congress were informed about the legislation that we were advocating for.”
This might seem like light pleasantries, but in truth it is a big deal. There are hundreds of Congressional fly-ins and thousands of bills introduced every year. For members of Congress and staff to pay this level of attention to the issues that brewers are working on means that your years of effort are paying off.
This is amazing—congratulations craft brewers!
So now that we are here, how we keep this momentum going?
- Keep on keeping on. It is undeniable that the craft brewing community has a good reputation. As we continue to grow as an industry by number of breweries , in market share and influence we need to make sure that we stay true to our best practices. Quality, safety and sustainability are keys in our community. Keep making the best beer that you can make and holding yourself to the highest standards.
- Brewery visits. Encourage your members of Congress and their staff to visit your brewery to see first-hand how it operates as a manufacturing facility, learn more about the issues facing small and independent brewers and maybe try a sample or two. Visiting craft breweries is becoming a must do on the campaign trail. Members of Congress will appreciate the opportunity!
- Outreach. Your relationships with members of Congress and staff, like any other relationship, need maintanance. Take the time to send your contacts on the hill an email and/or a thank you note, follow up on your meetings and correspondences and touch base about what your brewery is doing in their community.
As I said above, your legislators and their staff are dealing with multiple issues in a limited amount of time. Continued contact with them will show that you are serious about advocating for craft breweries.
- Remember why you brew. As Tom Burns stated in his 1982 article for Zymurgy magazine, brewers are “local businesses, employing local people and keeping dollars in the community.” This still rings true and the efforts of small and independent breweries are transforming communities across the country by creating manufacturing and service industry jobs and supporting neighborhoods through philanthropy. Keep up the great work!
Five, ten or thirty years from now who knows where the craft brewing industry will be? But if we do a combination of the above suggestions I hope that we will be happy with where we find ourselves.