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Updates From Your Guild

December 7 marked the final Garden State Craft Brewers Guild meeting of the year, held at Forgotten Boardwalk Brewery in Cherry Hill. A record 65 people attended… although only two of them sported holiday-themed outfits.

“I’m very disappointed in the showing of holiday cheer here,” said Forgotten Boardwalk’s Jamie Queli, dressed in a ‘Happy Llamaka’ sweater picturing a Llama in Hasidic dress.Garden State Brewers Guild Logo

Regardless, the meeting — and the bottle-share shindig that followed — were a success. Here’s what went down:

  1. Our guy Ryan was reelected as president! This time around, he will serve a two year – instead of one-year – term, per a new policy.

“I’m stoked!” he said. “Among my goals for 2016 is developing subcommittees: marketing, government affairs and events. There are some very talented people in our guild who want to be involved. I want to give them an outlet.”

Also on Ryan’s agenda: working to reintroduce legislation that’s important for job creation, modernizing and cleaning up the by-laws, increasing allied trade memberhip, hosting a safety conference with fellow guilds and the safety ambassador from the Brewers Association, and getting the ball rolling on two new beer festivals.

  1. Ryan, far right, meets vendors at Monday's meeting.
    Ryan, far right, meets vendors at Monday’s meeting.

    Ryan gave the group a rundown of the year in review. Here are the highlights:

Last June, Guild representatives lobbied 10 Congressional Offices at a Brewers Association Hill Climb. They met face-to-face with Senator David Norcross and Congressman Bill Pascrell.

A new website was launched, and digital outreach increased via a more streamlined newsletter.

A Best Practices Document was unveiled, to guide new breweries as they navigate the confusing legalese surrounding Jersey tasting rooms.

Renowned beer writer Don Russell became first Executive Director.

The Guild hosted two successful beer festivals: Battleship and Brews by the Bay.

An economic impact report was developed, covering everything from the jobs provided by craft beer in New Jersey (9,500) to the number of Springsteen songs that mention beer (five).

The Guild collaborated with the Pennsylvania Brewers Guild for the first annual Mid-Atlantic Brewers Symposium.

Job creation legislation was lobbied for at the state level (more on that below).

  1. Don gave his director’s report, which included a positive review of last week’s state lobby session. For the event — which was modeled after a Brewers Association Hill Climb – Don, Ryan,
    Our guy Chris with Gene Muller of Flying Fish.
    Our guy Chris with Gene Muller of Flying Fish.

    Gene Muller of Flying Fish, Mike Kane of Kane Brewing, and Guild lobbyist Eric Orlando headed to the State House in Trenton for four hours in order to discuss with policymakers Jersey’s emerging craft beer industry, as well as its challenges.

  1. Eric gave the legislative report which included an update on the pending, small-brewery legislation that was discussed at the aforementioned lobby day. (Think: a bill that would allow for the sale of beer at local farmers markets, a bill that would allow for the consumption of food at certain brewery tasting rooms, and a bill that would allow brewpubs to self-distribute a small amount of beer.)

“The Assembly was in session on this day,” Eric explained. “We set up in the hall that connects to the caucus rooms, so we were able to interact with all 80 members. The reception was really positive – the legislatures were surprised to learn how many breweries are present within their respective districts, or interested to know how they can get a brewery into their district. I think there is support for this package of bills. Whether or not they go to a vote depends on many factors, including whether there is support for them from legislative leadership.”

  1. Guild leadership reminded everyone to sign up for the upcoming Craft Brewers Conference, put on by the Brewers Association this spring in Philadelphia (watch this space for updates), and click here for a refresher on last year’s event.
  1. Guild leadership informed the group of FIVE recent brewery openings (Man Skirt in Hackettstown, Berlin Brewing in Berlin, Double Nickel in Pennsauken, Tomfoolery in Hammonton, and Belford Brewing in Belford.)
  1. Then, everyone ate pizza, drank Jersey fresh beer, participated in a raffle drawing, and perused the offerings of nine different vendors, selling everything from legal services to insurance to brewers grain.

Considering there will be 60 breweries and counting in New Jersey come 2016, there was a lot to celebrate.