Last week Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) visited Union Craft Brewing in Baltimore, and Representatives Crescent Hardy (R-NV) and Steve Chabot (R-OH) visited Big Dog’s Brewing in Las Vegas. They toured the production facilities, met with employees, talked about state and federal issues and were given the opportunity to sample beer. The visits were simple, but they have a big impact for craft brewing.
These two visits and hundreds of others like them show that the craft brewing community’s political influence is growing. Members of Congress have limited time when they are home for Congressional recess, so the fact that they are choosing to spend that time visiting breweries in their home states means that they (and their staff) are aware of the value that craft breweries bring to their community.
Here are a few reasons why these visits are valuable to both you and your legislator:
- …replace a short meeting in an office with the opportunity to have a relaxed and personal interaction with members of Congress and their staff.
- …use visits as a chance for a dialogue about a broad range of issues that are important to you in an informal setting.
- …can show lawmakers the impact you have on your community through the charitable work you do, tout your tasting room as a local “town hall”, and show the economic development you’ve helped bring to the area.
- …learn that your brewery is a small business, and deals with all the positives and negatives that come with that designation.
- …can focus on the manufacturing aspect of the work you do and learn about the effort and skill it takes to brew beer.
- …meet your employees, who are also their constituents—the people in their districts and states that you hired and who can vote in their elections.
These meetings also help to humanize both parties. Your brewery is more than just beer, it is the people you’ve hired and the community you’ve helped to create. At the same time, the legislator becomes more than just a talking head on C-SPAN, and their staff becomes more than a formulaic e-mail response. The relationships that you start with these visits set the groundwork for the future.
Since this is an election year, members of Congress will have the months of August and October off to campaign and meet with their constituents. Now is the perfect time for you to get in touch with your legislators and encourage them to visit your brewery. You can reach out to staff you already know or get the contact information for your Senator or Representative by clicking the links and typing in your zip code. The Brewers Association is also happy to help you facilitate these visits.
Once you have set up a meeting, let the BA know. We are happy to provide you with information and materials for your visit.
During/After the Meeting
- Take pictures! Tweet them, and send them to the BA. We will help you publicize the visit.
- Send a thank-you note or email to the people you’ve met with.
Having a member of Congress visit your brewery is an easy way to help promote craft brewing in Washington, D.C. Invite your legislator to visit your brewery today!