Thursday, May 10, 2007

Support your local brewery

Support Your Local Brewery is a campaign recently organized by the Brewers Association to enlist beer enthusiasts, brewers, and associated groups to act in concert as lobbyists - see, that can be a good thing when it's you!

As the website puts it:

a national, grassroots partnership of beer enthusiasts, professional trade associations, and brewers dedicated to supporting and protecting the legislative and regulatory interests of small, traditional and independent craft breweries.
After signing up you will receive alerts as to state legislative issues (and assuming national as well) which affect the craft beer industry and consumers. And you'll be asked to write, or email, or contact, or organize about these issues.

For instance, I like this stance on wholesalers and small breweries:

The American consumer should have access to the widest range of domestically produced beers made available by licensed breweries. The success or failure of a beer should depend on consumer demand, rather than artificial barriers to distribution. The absence of a willing and/or viable wholesaler should not prevent a small brewer's products from reaching a retailer who is willing to sell them.
We support state laws that respect and enhance consumer choice in the marketplace. We believe that to provide the greatest ongoing choice for consumers, small brewers need the right to act as their own wholesaler and be allowed to distribute to retailers. Such brewers should be subject to all laws and taxes applicable to both brewers and wholesalers.
We believe that small brewers and wholesalers should be free to establish enforceable contracts between the parties that both parties agree are fair and equitable. Franchise laws were enacted to protect wholesalers from the undue bargaining power of their largest suppliers. Applying those laws to relations between small brewers and wholesalers is unfair and against free market principles.
Where franchise laws exist, we believe that any brewer contributing less than 20% of a wholesaler's volume should be exempted from those laws and free to establish a mutually beneficial contract with that wholesaler. Without the leverage inherent in being a large part of a wholesaler's business, a small brewer and wholesaler can negotiate a fair contract at arm's length.
We support the independence of wholesalers and believe independent wholesalers are wholesalers who are contractually and economically free to allocate their efforts among the brands they sell without the undue influence of their largest suppliers. Each brand gets the attention it deserves on its own merits in the marketplace.
In the past, the Brewers Association has done such things as organizing international trade fairs.

And it throws an annual Craft Beer Reception at the US Capitol. This year's reception is in recognition of American Craft Beer Week and will be held on Tuesday, May 15th in the Agriculture Committee Hearing Room (Room 1300) in the Longworth House Office Building. For more information on that, contact Pete Johnson at the Brewers Association.

And, of course, there are the Great American Beer Festival and the Craft Brewers Conference. But in many ways, all these things are preaching to the converted.

Thus this new campaign is critical: transforming the craft beer movement - after 26 or so years - into a consumer/brewer cooperative interest movement. It's a long overdue but potentially powerful action. The Brewers Association should be commended ... and you should sign up!

Local advocacy groups include:
Why wineries? As Anchor Brewing's Fritz Maytag put it in the The Beer Hunter: "We are all friends in fermentation."

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