Brewers Association Board Updates: Craft Brewer Definition, Taproom Class, Political Action Committee

The Brewers Association board of directors completed the next step in the evolution of the craft brewer definition at its fourth quarter meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz. The process to review and update the definition started in summer 2018 with a survey to determine what products members are brewing or may brew in the future, followed by a request for input on a proposed change.

The updated craft brewer definition incorporated member input and is approved as follows:

Craft Brewer Definition

An American craft brewer is a small and independent brewer.

Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to a brewer according to rules of alternating proprietorships.

Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.

Brewer: Has a TTB Brewer’s Notice and makes beer.

As with previous updates of the craft brewer definition, this fourth evolution is more inclusive and adds more breweries to the craft data set.

The original craft brewer definition was created in 2006, after the creation of the Brewers Association. Since 2006, the craft brewing industry has more than tripled in size and market share. As the industry evolves, so should the definition. The definition has now been amended four times (2007, 2010, 2014, and 2018) to keep up with innovation and brewing trends.

The “traditional” pillar became outdated because craft brewers, seeking new sources of revenue to keep their breweries at capacity and address market conditions, have created new products that do not fit the traditional definition of beer.

The craft beer data set will continue to include products that meet the trade understanding of beer—all- malt and adjunct beers as well as gluten-free beers. Read this Insights and Analysis post for more details on how this change impacts the craft brewing data set and view answers to frequently asked questions.

In other news, the board of directors amended the association bylaws to add a new Taproom Brewery voting member class, which will go into effect in 2019. The creation of this class means that we need to recruit talented, engaged members who can be leaders for this class at the board level. We will achieve this by:

  1. Developing a taproom subcommittee that is part of the governance committee. We will be relying strongly on state guild executive directors to help us identify a diverse set of potential committee members.
  2. Transitioning one of the board seats from the packaging brewery class to the new taproom class with the 2019 election.
  3. Transitioning one of the board seats from the pub brewery class with the 2020 election. After that, the board will look at composition and leadership development and make appropriate decisions for governance.

Also approved was an annual plan that includes the development of a political action committee (PAC) in 2019.

Paul Gatza is the director of the Brewers Association (BA), a not-for-profit trade association whose purpose is to promote and protect American craft brewers and American craft beer and the community of brewing enthusiasts. Paul is a member of the association’s Brewpubs, Technical, Communications, Market Development, PR & Marketing and Government Affairs Committees. Paul’s origin in the beer community started when he took up homebrewing in 1990. He worked on the bottling line at Boulder Beer and would sneak over to the brewhouse when opportunity allowed. He owned a pair of homebrew supply shops in Boulder and Longmont, Colorado from 1994 to 1998. He served as director of the American Homebrewers Association for 7 years and is in his 20th year as Brewers Association director. Paul is ranked as a National Beer Judge by the Beer Judge Certification Program. Paul is also a former judge director of both the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup, before moving to the judge panels for these elite competitions.

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