We haven’t given you an update on the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act — affectionately called “com-BOO-tra” — in a while, and for good reason. It was rolled into the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, so, for the past year-and-a-half, it’s been the law of the land, cutting our excise taxes in half and allowing us to reinvest that money into making better beer for you.
However, that law — also known as President Trump’s controversial “tax cuts” — is set to expire at the end of 2019. So, we’re gearing up for another fight on CBMTRA, and, thankfully, New Jersey’s entire delegation to Congress has our back.
Sometimes, there’s actually some good political news: no indictments, no early-morning tweets crescendoing into CAPS LOCK, no mention of Russia or Manafort or healthcare or DACA or any of the other issues that seem to be distracting the nation from the real news: CBMTRA.
We’ve told you about CBMTRA before: the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act would reduce the excise tax for brewers producing under 60,000 barrels a year — that’s 98% of the industry — from $7/barrel to $3.50/barrel, cutting our tax liability in half. The BA expects that doing so would create an additional $320M that we could put back into the economy in terms of new jobs, new equipment, and better beer.
The Brew Crew really took DC by storm last week, spending Monday knocking on the doors of New Jersey’s elected officials during the BA’s annual Hill Climb.
Each year, the politically-minded brewers across the country get together and fight City Hall — or the Capitol, as the case may be. It’s all organized by the Brewers Association, and we had a few members of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild in attendance.
Our intrepid champions sat down with staffers for all of New Jersey’s congressional delegation in an attempt to sway them to support CBMTRA, the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act.
“It was very positive,” Ryan tells us. “It was a beautiful day, and it was great to see other leaders in the brewing industry out there pounding the pavement like we were.”
A quick refresher: CBMTRA (affectionately pronounced “com-BOO-tra”) would reduce the excise tax for brewers producing under 60,000 barrels a year — that’s 98% of the industry — from $7/barrel to $3.50/barrel, cutting our tax liability in half. The BA expects that doing so would create an additional $320M that us little guys could spend on hiring additional workers. With each job created in the brewing industry, we generate a whopping 45 jobs in related industries, from agriculture to retail. If each of New Jersey’s 84 breweries and brewpubs could hire just one more worker, that’s 3,780 new jobs created in this state alone. For such a small tax cut, the ripple effects are enormous.
During the last session of Congress, all of New Jersey’s Representatives and Senators had signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. Unfortunately, there was more support than time, and it ended up dying when Congress’s session ended in 2016.
This time around, just about everyone has signed on. We’re still waiting for Congressman Payne of the 10th District and Congressman Gottheimer of the 5th District, but Ryan thinks that it’s a only matter of time. “It’s only because these guys are really busy and there’s a lot of bills out there,” Ryan explains. Rep. Gottheimer was elected in the most recent election and hasn’t yet had the chance to take a position.
“New Jersey is very supportive overall,” says CMBC Marketing Director Alicia Grasso, who accompanied Ryan last week. “Staffers and representatives both showed support and enthusiasm for our state’s growing beer scene.”
Since most of our Representatives are already supporting the bill, Ryan and the crew focused most of their energies on getting them to join their respective house’s Small Brewers Caucus.
The Small Brewers Caucuses in the House and Senate give us an extremely important forum in our nation’s capital. While brewers share many of the concerns of other small businesses, we’re in the only industry that has two constitutional amendments — and a crippling number of federal, state, and local laws — regulating it. These caucuses provide our elected officials an opportunity to learn about what it takes to run a brewery and a mechanism to share information about the science and art of brewing, as well as the lowdown on business, regulatory, and social issues.
“The caucuses are a good opportunity for our elected officials to see what’s going on in the craft beer industry,” Ryan says. “It’s a low-impact caucus — I think they only meet four times a year — and they have beer available for staffers who attend their meetings, so there’s an added incentive for them to join.”
Basically a big bottle-share on Capitol Hill? Sounds like a good time to us.
Apparently, own Representative, Congressman Frank LoBiondo, is one of our biggest champions.
“LoBiondo knows how active we are, and it’s great that he’s our Congressman,” Ryan says. “He and his staffers are always very enthusiastic to see us. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s a big fan of Cape May Brew Co.”
We’re lucky to have such a supportive delegation in DC, and it really speaks to how hard Ryan, Gene Muller of Flying Fish, and the rest of the active Guild members have been working on behalf of the brewing industry in New Jersey.
But there’s still a ways to go. CBMTRA isn’t yet law, so there’s still time to voice your support. Contact your representative and let them know that you support this legislation and the issues affecting the craft beer industry.
If it combines beer and politics, you can be sure that Ryan Tiberius Krill will be in attendance. (No, that’s not actually his middle name.)
He was in DC this past week for the Guild’s annual Chamber Walk, an informal meeting with NJ’s federal and state legislators.
“It’s definitely more about beer than politics,” Ryan tells us. “It’s a way for the Guild to thank our legislators for the hard work they put in all year, for us and for the people of New Jersey.”
Held at the Marriott Wardman Park, it was the fourth year Ryan’s headed down there for the Chamber Walk, and “this year was the best,” according to Ryan.
Senator Booker and Senator Menendez were both in attendance, as well as six Congressmen and Phil Murphy — the current frontrunner to become New Jersey’s next governor.
Senator Booker loves Cape May, but, since he’s the model of health and fitness in the Senate, he doesn’t drink. Ryan’s working on that — at least enough to get him down to the brewery.
However, even though the night was meant to be more social than political, Ryan never wastes a chance to talk up New Jersey’s breweries to our elected officials — and the only thing he wanted to talk about was the CBMTRA — the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act.
During the last session of Congress, all of New Jersey’s Congressmen and Senators signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, but with the new session that began in 2017, all of that work begins anew.
“My goal is to have everyone signed on,” Ryan says, “and we’re on target to have everybody back.”
Sweet! New Jersey’s elected officials have been looking out for us little guys, and we couldn’t be more proud that these fourteen people are tirelessly working on our behalf.
Well… not all that “tirelessly.” They did take some time out of their busy schedules to have some of the best beer New Jersey has to offer. Thankfully, there are some perks to the otherwise thankless job of being in Congress.
Ryan was back in DC this week to speak at USBevX and will be back down for the BA’s Hill Climb in April.
In the meantime, check out some of his pictures below!
Last week was a busy week at CMBC — at least off-site. Between Philly Beer Week, SAVOR DC, and the Guild’s Hill Climb, we were really all over the place. We’ve got the top five goings-on in DC for you below.
1. SAVOR DC
Man, was this a blast! SAVOR DC was all about food and beer — and, let’s face it, those two things pretty much make the world go ’round. Brewers Association Executive Chef Adam Dulye paired each of the 75 participating breweries’ brews with a special concoction — pairing Shrimp and Grits with Coastal Evacuation and a Nordic dish of sardines, buttered radishes, rye, hardboiled egg, and chives with Devil’s Reach. “There were so many small bites and they were all so decadent,” says Ryan. “It’s hard to say one was the best.”
2. RYAN BENDS THE EAR OF SOME HEAVY-HITTERS
While in DC for the Hill Climb, Ryan got to talk to some of the heavy-hitters in the brewing industry, including Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head, Rob Todd of Alagash, and Jim Koch of Sam Adams. “It was great!”
3. HILL CLIMB
Wearing his “Guild Hat” as the president of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, Ryan had the chance to trot up Capitol Hill to talk to some of our legislators about the Craft Brewer’s Modernization Act. “It was a great chance to tell our success story.”
4. MEETINGS, MEETINGS EVERYWHERE
The bill has 11 co-sponsors in New Jersey and 222 co-sponsors nationwide, but Ryan took the chance to change a few more minds. Ryan had eight meetings with Congressmen and Senators and dropped in on six more. “I was exhausted but I wanted to make sure I got to EVERY office.”
5. ECONOMIC IMPACT REPORT
We put together an Economic Impact Report for Ryan to share with the New Jersey delegation. Each factsheet had general information on the front with specialized information for each district on the back. “It was a smash hit and really popular at the national guilds gathering meeting afterwards.”
BONUS: RYAN’S FAVORITE PART
“There’s a mini train that goes between the Capitol building and the Senate and Congressional offices. SO COOL!” He’s trying to hitch a ride, but it may just have to wait until he’s elected to Congress.
CMBC is all up in DC’s business this week. Two great events on tap: SAVOR DC and the annual Brewers Association Hill Climb.
Beer and food. That’s what SAVOR DC is all about. As craft beer continues to grow in popularity, we’ve steadily been making headway in the culinary world as legitimate fine dining fare. On June 3rd and 4th, SAVOR DC brings together 76 small and independent craft breweries from 28 states and Washington DC, pairing their most delectable brews with enticing dishes curated by Chef Adam Dulye, Brewers Association executive chef.
CMBC is bringing along Coastal Evacuation and Devil’s Reach. Chef Dulye has paired Shrimp and Grits with Coastal Evacuation. “A little bit of heat added to the grits allows the hops to shine, while the crisp outer shell of the bite pulls the malt forward to balance the hops,” he says.
Devil’s Reach is being paired with sardines, buttered radishes, rye, hard boiled egg, and chives. “Classic Nordic flavors of umami, salt and grain work together to showcase what a Belgian yeast strain can do on the palate.”
SAVOR also provides attendees with opportunities to broaden their knowledge in tasting Salons — eighteen educational experiences throughout the weekend. With such titles as “Advanced Beer and Cheese Pairings” and “Beer as Dessert” (there needs to be a class on that?!?), each Salon is lead by two collaborating breweries sharing their brews, so not only will you get some valuable information for your next pairing party, but you’ll be able to meet some of the rock stars of the brewing world in the process.
Tickets are on sale now. Get down to DC this weekend and get some good eats and better brews.
The day before SAVOR DC is the Brewers Association annual Hill Climb. Which hill are they climbing, you ask? Well, there’s only one hill in DC that matters: Capitol Hill. It’s a pretty easy climb, but getting to the top can take some hard work.
“The annual Hill Climb is our chance to sit down with elected officials to discuss what’s going on in the industry,” Ryan says. “And what’s on everyone’s mind right now is the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. This important legislation will effectively halve most breweries’ excise liability.”
Ryan will get a chance to meet with some of his counterparts from across the country and devise a game plan. The trick, he says, will be convincing House and Senate members who aren’t already co-sponsors of the bill or members of their respective Small Brewers Caucuses to add their support to the act.
“The prospects look good,” Ryan says. “I’m looking forward to working with Congress to see this measure passed.”
We’re pulling for you, Ryan! Check back next week to see how the day went.
Well, maybe not rock so much as just never cease to amaze us. While we can totally imagine both Senator Menendez and Senator Booker flying on a bald eagle, trailed by rainbows and freedom, impossibly always in front of a billowing American flag, all while ripping a guitar solo like there’s no tomorrow, perhaps “rock” isn’t how we should phrase it.
“Tirelessly fighting for the little guy.” Yeah. That’s what we should say.
The entire New Jersey Senatorial delegation has signed on to co-sponsor S. 1562, the Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act.
We’ve written about this bill before: it began its life as the Small BREW Act and has since been rechristened with this slightly-less inspiring moniker. We could explain it again, but, luckily, the good people over at the Brewers Association came up with the handy-dandy infographic below to help us out.
“The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2015 would lower the federal excise tax on beer produced by craft breweries across the country,” says Senator Menendez. “With over 40 craft breweries and a growing industry in New Jersey, this much-needed tax break would help these local, small businesses purchase more equipment, expand their operations, and create more good-paying jobs for New Jerseyans.”
Ryan agrees. “This bill would cut our excise liability in half. With that money, we’d be able to buy better lab equipment and ultimately brew better beer.”
It would be a great thing for craft breweries across the country, creating more jobs in a time when they’re desperately needed. As the infographic below says, one job created in brewing generates a whopping 45 jobs in related industries. And for every dollar saved by small, independent brewers, an additional $8 is added to the economy.
“The legislation has far-reaching implications,” Ryan says. “It doesn’t just help us, it helps numerous links in the supply and distribution chains.”
“Craft breweries are a growing segment of our small business community and are creating new jobs across New Jersey. Not only are these companies generating economic growth, their profits are largely staying in and benefiting the communities in which these small breweries are located. I co-sponsored the Craft Beverage Modernization Act because it represents a reasonable compromise between large and small brewers that will help federal policy keep up with the changing face of brewing in the United States,” Sen. Booker said.
For when you get sick of rehashing the most recent GOP debate with your friends, here’s another bit of political fodder, and it’s a lot less divisive than Trump (or even Trump’s hair): last week, Ryan headed to Capitol Hill with Gene Muller of Flying Fish.
First, they attended the annual holiday party put on by the Brewers Association. Here, brewers mingled with Congressmen and staffers at Rayburn, one of three office buildings for members of the House. While the goal was to eat, drink craft beer, and be merry, this was also a good opportunity to discuss with lawmakers all the good that would come from passing the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which we wrote about here. Reminder: it would have lowered the amount of federal excise tax applied to barrels of beer, thereby allowing for greater job creation within the industry.
We say “would have” because it has since been determined that the bill will not be put to a vote prior to the end of the year. It’s not that there isn’t support for it — Ryan reports a very warm, bipartisan reception. It’s that there are almost 8,000 bills currently before Congress, including a massive spending bill lawmakers are determined to push through before 2016. Sometimes, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles (the beer spills?).
But we can take heart for three reasons:
The bill got *very* close to a vote, which is in itself a victory.
Even though it’s now *technically* dead, the bill will likely be reintroduced next year.
Ryan’s visit to DC was not in vain.
In addition to the holiday party, our fearless leader attended an event of the New Jersey State Society put on at Union Station, which allowed for greater networking with the likes of Senator Cory Booker, Congressman Donald Norcross, and Congressman Tom MacArthur. And then there were the congressional office visits, during which time Ryan and Gene cold-called eight lawmakers to discuss with them the importance of joining the House Small Brewers Caucus (aka — the squad responsible for educating fellow elected officials on the value of craft beer… and bills like the Modernization Act). Since there are now breweries in nearly every legislative district, politicians have a vested interest in hitching their wagons here.
The good news: after these meetings, five more Congressional leaders signed on to support the Modernization Act (remember, greater support will increase its chances of being reintroduced next session), and four joined the caucus.
The bottom line: we’ve built momentum, and that means there’s good things to come for craft beer in the new year.
We’ve been writing quite a bit about the Small BREW Actcurrently before Congress, and why it would go such a long way toward helping small brewers create jobs. (Cough, reduction of the federal excise tax applied to barrels of beer, cough.) We’ve also been writing about potential roadblocks, including lobbying by multinational breweries for their own, competing bill.
Well, good news!
A third horse has entered this race in the form of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. It’s a compromise bill in that it should appease the big guns, but it contains all of the elements of the Small BREW Act… in fact, it takes that bill one step further.
In a statement issued this week, Brewers Association President Bob Pease says: “Not only would this legislation recalibrate excise taxes—an issue for which we have long advocated—it would ease a number of burdens for brewers, including simplifying label approvals and repealing unnecessary inventory restrictions.”
Thanks to the man behind the plan, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), for fighting the good fight, and to our own President Ryan Krill, leader of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, for advocating on the Hill.
We’re one step closer to greater job creation.
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