The craft brewery movement has long been absent a crucial peg necessary for sustained growth: that is, dedicated attention to the ways of government and regulation - and action about them. As of 1 January, seeds towards this end may have been sown.
The merger of the Association of Brewers (Charlie Papazian, et al) with the Brewers' Association of America portends practical efforts towards protecting the interests of craft brewers' as a group of businesses with like concerns.
Here are excerpts from a press release. More at:
Formed January 1, 2005, through a merger of the Association of Brewers and the Brewers’ Association of America, the reorganized Brewers Association is a not-for-profit trade association representing the interests of craft brewers.
With a combined history of almost 90 years, the BA aims to promote and defend the interest of craft brewers and provide education and marketing support. The organization includes activities and services representing various facets of the brewing business including a professional craft brewers, homebrewers (American Homebrewers Association®), Brewers Publications, and events such as the Great American Beer Festival®, the World Beer Cup®, Craft Brewers Conference, BrewExpo America®, National Homebrewers Conference and the National Homebrew Competition.
“We believe that a combined organization will result in a stronger voice for small brewers in the media, in the nation’s capital and in state legislatures,” said Gary Fish, Chairman of the BAA and President of Deschutes Brewery in Bend, OR. “We are part of a government-regulated industry, and we need to marshal all the support we can to represent the interests of small brewers. The goals of both organizations are to promote and protect the industry. Together, we will do a much better job.”
“There now are more than 1500 breweries in the United States, more than any other country in the world, and a united voice will enable us to tell our story to the world more effectively,” said Charlie Papazian, founder and president of the Association of Brewers, formed in 1979 to promote the then fledgling small brewing industry.
In 1975, there were fewer than 40 brewing companies in the United States, down from more than 2500 before Prohibition devastated the industry in the 1920s. The giant brewing companies that resulted from consolidation of the industry were all brewing light lager beers.
The Boulder-based Association of Brewers was formed to showcase the brewing renaissance than blossomed in America beginning in the late 70’s. Yearning for more flavor than was available from the mass market beers, thousands of Americans began homebrewing after President Carter legalized the practice in 1978.
The BAA [Brewers Association of America], the nation’s oldest association of brewers, [was] formed during World War II to insure that small brewers got their share of war-rationed materials like tin and barley.
In the past decade the BAA, which represented America’s dwindling regional brewing industry, enlisted many of the new brewing companies that sprang up across the country in the last two and a half decades. The new breweries brought new life to the BAA. As the new industry developed, the two organizations began searching for ways to better represent the interests of small brewers.
“This merger represents the best of the new and the best of the heritage of small brewing in America,” said Papazian. “A merger will greatly strengthen our marketing and our political initiatives.”
BAA President Daniel Bradford has been offered the position of Legislative Director.
I'll be surprised if Bradford accepts. He once worked once for Papazian. When he left that position, the two (to be polite) agreed to disagree. [UPDATE: he didn't.] In his position with the BAA, Bradford did much to promote the business side of craft brewing. With his wife, he published All About Beer; he is the organizer of the Durham, North Carolina World Beer Festival.