Beneficent to Brewers
Plato once said, “He was a wise man who invented beer,” but that wisdom has phenomenally flowed throughout the market. Today, craft beer is undergoing such a renaissance in America that there are now more breweries inventing flavors of beer than any other time since the 1870s ( or a total of 2,528 as of June, 2013). One not-for-profit trade association serves to promote and protect small and independent craft brewers throughout America.
As an industry trade group, the main goal of the Brewers Association is to promote and protect its more than 1,900 brewery members. It does this via a number of avenues, including annual craft beer events, government affairs work, and craft beer export development. The BA was not always organized as it is today. In 1978, Charlie Papazian (recognized as the father of modern home-brewing) formed the American Homebrewers Association along with Charlie Matzen. Five years later, in 1983, this group was organized as part of the Association of Brewers with the goal of assisting the fledgling U.S. craft brewing community. In 2005, the Association of Brewers merged with the Brewers’ Association of America to form what is now known as the Brewers Association, a trade group that remarkably represents 99 percent of the beer that is brewed in America.
Four primary events are held and highlighted annually by the BA. The Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America® is an industry-only event and the largest annual gathering of brewing industry professionals, featuring educational tracks, seminars and, bi-annually, the prestigious World Beer Cup®. The BA also organizes SAVORSM: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, the nation’s benchmark craft beer and food pairing event, as well as the its largest event; and the Great American Beer Festival®, a fall celebration that compels 50,000 beer lovers from around the world to travel to Denver and savor the flavors from more than 600 American brewers. The American Homebrewers Association, a division of the BA, also annually hosts the National Homebrewers Conference, an event that serves to both enhance the brewing skills of homebrewers and increase camaraderie among the homebrewing community.
The BA fulfills a large role in promoting the interests of small brewers at the federal level and helps those in the industry better navigate through issues in national legislative scene. Craft brewers are valuable small businesses that are creating jobs and reinvigorating communities across the country. The BA continues to back legislation that stands to strengthen the craft brewing community and allow for further job growth.
One legislative item of particular importance to craft brewers is the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act (Small BREW Act), which was re-introduced in both the Senate (S. 917) and House of Representatives (H.R. 494) earlier in 2013. The Small BREW Act aims to recalibrate the federal excise tax that small brewers pay on each barrel of beer that they produce. A recalibration of the federal excise tax, which hasn’t happened since 1976, would let brewers to reinvest more money in their businesses, thereby allowing for expanded production and distribution. More production and distribution would also present an opportunity for additional job creation. On a national level, the BA also deals with issues such as brewer-distributor relationships, the independence of wholesalers, alcohol content of beer, and franchise laws.
For state-specific issues, the BA stays in constant contact with state brewing guilds, which deal with legislation on a more local level.
The BA also works to promote American craft beers overseas, as the popularity of craft around the globe continues to rise. The Brewers Association Export Development Program (EDP) was created in 2004 and generates exposure for American craft beer through trade shows, festivals, seminars, media outreach and competitions, among other activities.
In 2012, craft beer export volume increased by a staggering 72 percent compared to 2011, with a value estimated at $49.1 million. Markets such as Canada, Brazil and Southeast Asia are prime areas for American craft beer exports.
Communicating to Consumers
Aside from its popular annual events, the BA reaches beer lovers daily through its consumer-facing website, CraftBeer.com. The site was created to communicate the passion, authenticity, excitement and creativity of the craft beer community, while also educating beer lovers of every level.
In addition to blog posts and the latest craft beer news, CraftBeer.com features educational tools such as style finders, tasting tips, beer and food pairing guides, and tools for supporting your local brewery. The site has become a must-visit web destination for those seeking to learn more about the world of craft beer.
Greener Shades of Greatness
Sustainability is a major issue of focus for the BA and its members. Earlier in 2013, the BA unveiled three new sustainability manuals for craft brewers, covering water and wastewater, energy and greenhouse gases, and solid waste. These manuals provide time-saving, specific resources for breweries to operate in a more eco-friendly manner.
The BA also takes steps to ensure that its events are as environmentally-friendly as possible. For example, the BA partners with two green organizations, ZeroHero and Ecosyste.ms, to promote and showcase sustainable efforts at the Great American Beer Festival®. The Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America® also regularly features a number of seminars and moderated discussions on sustainability practices.
Partnering in Progress
One thing unites all employees of the BA: an abiding love of craft beer, the beverage that is continuing to revolutionize American food and drink. BA staff members are dedicated first and foremost to protecting and promoting the beverage they cherish, working hard to put on world-class events and make sure members are up to date on the latest happenings in the world of craft beer.
The future of craft beer is growing brighter by the day. The craft brewing community has seen tremendous growth over the past decade, to the point that beer made by craft brewers now accounts for 6.5 percent of all beer brewed in the U.S., and 10.2 percent of all American beer sales. There are currently over 2,500 breweries operating in America, with more than 1,600 in planning, and American craft brewers now support over 108,000 jobs. Over the next five years, the BA expects even more segment growth, as Americans continue to demand high-quality, craft brewed beer at an increasing rate. But as craft beer growth continues, quality must remain a top priority. American craft brewers create full-flavored, diverse and unique offerings, and the industry will continue to thrive so long as quality is still the number one driver for brewers.
For more information, please visit their website at: Brewers Association