Quarterly Guild Report: Summer 2018

We are proud to share an impressive crop of guild updates this summer. We appreciate the amazing work that every elected board, executive director, and guild member does on behalf of their state and the industry as a whole. We should never forget that most of the people striving to build a better community do so freely, volunteering both their time and sweat. Thanks again to each and every one
of you!

ACSA State Guild Committee

American Craft Spirits Association

It has been a few action-packed months since our last update. We had a great turn out in Pittsburgh at the State Guild Round Table during the ACSA Conference. Out of that conversation, we came up with a wish list for the coming Guilds FAQ page when the new ACSA website launches. These include:

  • Standards and Practices
  • Safety & Consumption
  • Distillery Trails
  • Lobbying
  • Guild Structure
  • Membership Structures and Dues
  • Spirits Judging Competitions
  • Membership drives

We will be working on these over the next few months and would appreciate any help you could offer.

In May a handful of distillers and industry supporters were in Washington DC for a joint fly-in with the ACSA and Distilled Spirits Council in support of extending the FET reduction. I would say that the #1 takeaway is that getting the FET reduction extended is far from guaranteed. We have 18 months left to secure an extension and that should be each Guild and each distiller’s #1 priority over that time. To date, a handful of extremely dedicated distillers have been carrying the load on this, and they need you to get off the sidelines and get in the game. The cost of inaction is $10.80 per proof gallon, can you afford that?

The things you should be doing at this moment to continue to save $10.80 per PG: join the ACSA and your Guild, tell your reinvestment story to your Senators and Representatives, and find out how to become involved in the ACSA PAC by sending a request to: acsapac@americancraftspirits.org.

P.T. Wood
ACSA BOD, Chair State Guild Committee,
Wood’s High Mountain Distillery in Salida, CO

 

Delaware

Delaware Wineries Association

Painted Stave Distilling Co-Owners Ron Gomes and Mike Rasmussen (current President of The Delaware Wineries Association), together with the State of Delaware Alcohol and Beverage Control Commissioner, crafted a bill to enable craft beverage producers licensed in the State of Delaware to serve, for onsite consumption only, products created by other craft beverage producers licensed in the State of Delaware. With bipartisan support, HB 373 passed the House, Senate, and is awaiting the signature of Governor John Carney.

Other proposed acts to amend Title 4 of the Delaware Code Relating to Alcohol: HB 165 would permit wine producers holding a valid license within this State or another state to obtain a license and ship wine directly to Delaware consumers so long as it is done through a common carrier with a carrier permit.

HB 198 would permit holders of a “Farmers’ Market Permit or Agricultural Themed Event Permit” to conduct tastings and sell craft beer, mead, cider, distilled spirits, and wine in sealed containers for off-premise consumption at retail prices at off-site farmers’ markets or agricultural-themed events during the months of April through November.

HB 405 would permit licensed craft beverage producers in the State of Delaware to ship product manufactured on their premises to entities under common ownership and control.

Ronald R Gomes, Jr., Ph.D.
“Modern Alchemist”,
Founding Partner Painted Stave Distilling
Smyrna, Delaware

 

Maine

Maine Distiller’s Guild

The Maine Distiller’s Guild, MeDG, met for their third annual guild meeting. With the growing list of members and associate members the MeDG made a number of changes to the guild bylaws which will enable the guild to operate more smoothly and swiftly. The major goals set for 2018 include the building of a new website, the hiring of a law firm for in-state lobbying, and the launch of our advertising campaign “Make Mine from Maine.”

The MeDG continues its partnership with Maine Spirits www.mainespirits.com, the exclusive wholesale distributor for spirits in the state of Maine. They are assisting MeDG with the roll out of the “Make Mine from Maine” campaign to consumers, bars, and restaurants, encouraging them to choose locally made spirits. Plans are underway for a June launch of the campaign at an all member Maine cocktail event featuring a special pamphlet showcasing all MeDG members’ products. Once again, MeDG will be hosting an event for the Harvest on the Harbor celebration www.harvestontheharbor.com in Portland in October. The guild and members will end 2018 with a tast-ing event at the Maine Harvest Festival www.maineharvestfestival.com in Bangor which celebrates the bounty of farms and manufacturers from across the state. The guild continues efforts towards expanding events throughout the year.

The first grand prize winner was chosen from all the completed entries sent in for the Maine Distillery Trail. Prizes included a gift certificate to use at any member distillery and the best member swag from across the state. You can plan your Maine distillery tour at our website www.mainedistillersguild.org.

The guild is looking toward a vibrant summer as the interest in locally produced spirits continues to grow. The MeDG would like to thank all those that lobbied and pushed for the reduction in FET which helps us all take a giant leap forward.

Keith and Constance Bodine
Sweetgrass Farm Winery & Distillery

 

Maryland

Maryland Distillers Guild

The Maryland Distillers Guild held its second board election, re-electing president Jaime Windon, Lyon Distilling Company, vice-president Brad Blackwell, Lost Ark Distilling Company, treasurer Max Lents, Baltimore Spirits Company, and newly electing secretary Monica Pearce, Tenth Ward Distilling Company.

The guild has also assigned a formal Education Committee (in addition to active Marketing, Government Affairs & Ethics Committees), dedicated to expanding the educational resources available to all distillers in the state and surrounding areas. The committee hopes to provide regular and recurring access to high level, production-focused materials and resources. The Baltimore Spirits Company (formerly Baltimore Whiskey Company) hosted the inaugural peer-led seminar, with head distiller Eli Breitburg-Smith sharing lessons learned as he transitioned from brewing beer to distilling spirits. Along with a continued seminar series hosted by various MD distillers, the committee is in the initial stages of planning a Mid-Atlantic educational-focused conference, aimed at bringing together distillers to foster collaboration as well as share talent & resources.

MDG is proud to report a number of notable developments by our members:

  • McClintock Distilling Company (Frederick, MD) became Maryland’s first ever USDA certified Distillery at the beginning of this year, and is also powered by 100% renewable electricity.
  • The Baltimore Spirits Company (Baltimore, MD) is expanding and moving their distillery into a brand new, visitor-focused, collective space (also home to a brewery and other manufacturers) and installing a unique, state-of-the-art geothermal cooling system to reduce waste and save energy.
  • Tobacco Barn Distillery (Hollywood, MD) is on the Maryland Green Registry and offsets over 32% of total distillery energy consumption by combining a solar PV array, custom designed geothermal fields and intensive water recycling. They are in the process of building a 100% solar powered tasting room, and are launching an Indiegogo campaign for “solar panel” sponsorships.
  • Dark Cloud Malthouse (Cooksville, MD) has reignited a key industry — since launching two years ago, they are already expanding and providing locally grown & malted grains to over 40 craft distillers and brewers across the state.

The guild continues to build a robust & successful event series. Spirits of Maryland, now in its second year, hosts tasting events all across the state where distillers can sample, sell spirits, and educate consumers through distiller-led talks. MDG members are also actively participating in cross-industry events & festivals with the Brewers Association of MD and the Maryland Wineries Association

Jaime Windon
Owner/Co-Founder | Lyon Distilling Co.

 

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Distillers Alliance

The Massachusetts Distillers Alliance continues to work toward promoting distillers throughout Massachusetts.

Focus in 2018 continues to be the extension of FET reduction as well as parity at the state level with winery and breweries.

In May, MDA Board member Andrew Cabot joined the ACSA in lobbying members of Congress and their staff to push for a permanent extension of the FET reduction. After successful days in DC, focus now turns to rallying individual MDA members and continue to lobby their members of Congress directly.

As Massachusetts continues to review current laws and regulatory guidelines, the MDA will be lobbying on the state level for parity with wineries and breweries.

Also, this spring the MDA participated in workshops supporting the craft beverage industry in Massachusetts. Presented by the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism and Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, workshops were developed for producers of beer, wine, cider, and spirits, and consisted of presentations and panel discussions from industry experts with a focus on marketing practices and brand strategy to attract culinary travelers.

For more information, find us at www.massdistill.com.

Massachusetts Distillers Alliance Board
Andrew Cabot — Privateer Rum
Alison DeWolfe — Damnation Alley Distillery
Matt Nuernberger — GrandTen Distilling

 

New Mexico

New Mexico Distillers Guild

Hoping to capitalize on the momentum from the Federal Excise Tax reduction signed into law in late 2017, the New Mexico Distillers Guild approached the state legislature with a similar excise tax reduction proposal based on the federal model. The proposed law would have brought distillers into parity with state excise tax reductions currently enjoyed by the state’s brewers and wine makers; however, despite being flush with unanticipated cash flow from the state’s revitalized oil & gas industry, the legislators were not inclined to offer any further tax reductions for our nascent industry. With added membership and interest we hope to push our legislative efforts to this end in next year’s legislative session.

Speaking of new members, we’re happy to welcome Dry Point Distillers in Las Cruces and Blackstar and Tractor in Albuquerque, which brings our membership to 11 and adds new experience and talent to our organization. Updates to our website and social media as well as a more targeted legislative campaign are in the works as a result.

On the FET front we want to acknowledge our guild president and ASCA board member, Colin Keegan of Santa Fe Spirits, for his tireless (ha!) efforts on all of our behalves towards making the FET reduction permanent. He was at the recent legislative lobbying fly-in in Washington, DC and met with four of our state’s delegation who all expressed their support. Thanks, Colin, for all you do for your state, ASCA and our industry!

Dr. Greg McAllister
Algodones Distillery

 

New York

New York State Distillers Guild

This year the New York State Distiller’s Guild held our inaugural NY Distilled Spirits Competition. The competition was open to all New York State distillers as guild members.

Our guild competition was conducted in tandem with the Great American International Spirits Competition. Partnering with an existing and larger competition allowed our judging to have a reduced cost associated with the staffing, proctoring, accommodations, and logistical operations needed. Since both competitions were judged simultaneously, entries were afforded the opportunity to enter both without paying additional fees or proving further product. Once judging was completed, New York spirits were separated out in a data cut from the overall numbers to be used for our Guild’s competition.

The entire competition was judged by a healthy cross section of beverage industry leaders and peers including Artisan Spirit’s very own editor and publisher, Brian Christensen. Judging commenced in late April and saw 107 spirit entries in 23 categories from over 36 of New York’s distillers.

The results of the NY Distilled Spirits Competition will be announced in late June and celebrated at a public facing promotional event on July 17th at Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, NY. The event will include tastings form New York State distillers that participated in the competition. The event will be open to the media an hour prior to public to allow us to champion all medaling spirits and their distilleries for this inaugural occasion.

The spirit winning Best of Show designation will be awarded the “Governor’s Cup” trophy. This trophy will be passed from champion to champion with the winning spirit’s details added to the cup’s engraving each year.

As we begin planning for next year’s competition our intention is to grow this opportunity for our members in both categorical size and promotional scope.

For more information on our Inaugural New York Distilled Spirits Competition and its results please visit www.nydistilled.com or reach out to us at newyorkstatedistillersguild@gmail.com.

Cheers!

Cory Muscato
Lockhouse Distillery – Buffalo, NY
President – New York State Distillers Guild

North Dakota

North Dakota Distillers Guild

We have begun to initiate the legal foundation for the North Dakota Distillers Guild. Our goal is to file the organizational papers based heavily on the examples as shared through the American Craft Spirits Association and other State Guilds. In the past year, there is one additional DSP licensed in the State and another rumored to be nearing completion. This will total six DSP’s in North Dakota with a population of about 750,000. As a Guild, our intention will be to offer professionals and enthusiasts of the distillery industry a common vehicle to share ideas and resources especially when approaching State and Local entities regarding the production, marketing and general public support of locally produced spirits.

Joel Kath
Proof Artisan Distillers

Ohio

Ohio Distiller’s Guild

The Ohio Distiller’s Guild recently held elections at the annual meeting in January, voting Greg Lehman of Watershed Distillery to President, Ben Vause of Noble Cut Distillery into the Vice President position, Reese Edwards of Cleveland Whiskey to Treasurer, and Josh Daly of Middle West Spirits to Secretary.

Just one and a half years after passing a bill to allow distilleries to open an onsite bar and up production from 10,000 to 100,000 proof gallons per year, the Guild introduced a law into committee that would allow local distillers the ability to sell more than two bottles per day to customers. It would also permit Ohio distilleries to open two satellite bars to help market their spirits in different areas of the state.

After the passing of the initial bill to allow for onsite bars and restaurants, the distilleries that took advantage of the growth opportunity saw on-site employment double or triple, creating a vast amount of momentum in the industry directly correlated to the changes in the law.

Greg Lehman
Co-founder of Watershed Distillery
President of the Ohio Distillers Guild

Oregon

Oregon Distillers Guild

We held our annual TOAST event in March and had a great turn-out. More than 25 distilleries participated from around the state. There was a tasty array of food and of course a vast variety of spirits from the distilleries attending. The 2018 TOAST event also launched this year’s ADI conference here in Portland, which continued throughout the following week. Some of the board was kept extremely busy helping with ADI details, with many attending the multiple sessions, as well as presenting and holding seminars. Multiple local distilleries participated by having tours and special sessions.

ODG spent a significant amount of money and effort to introduce and pass a bill that would give Oregon distilleries an equal tax-based playing field that the breweries and wineries have. This legislative short session’s effort did not succeed in getting the bill passed, but it did open quite a few political eyes and pushed the goal much more into the legislative spotlight by declaring that all alcohol producers are created equal and should be afforded equal rights. The efforts will continue this coming session, and we are targeting success.

ODG continues to make a valiant effort to recruit every distillery in the state to become a member. Current distillery count is 70, and we have achieved 75% membership.

This upcoming quarter will see our annual general membership meeting, and with the updated bylaws the ODG board will be increasing the board to nine members, representing distilleries state-wide.

Rick Rickard
El Jefe, Rolling River Spirits LLC
Board of Directors, Oregon Distillers Guild

Virginia

Virginia Distillers Association

As of lately, there has been a lot of positive momentum in the Virginia distilled spirits industry — much of which can be attributed to the State’s growing interest in supporting our local distillers, and cumulative efforts by the Virginia Distillers Association (VDA) to advance strategic initiatives over the past 20 months.

The 2018 General Assembly Session lent itself to new and exciting opportunities for our constituents to promote their products while also creating additional market access. Effective July 1, 2018, Virginia distilleries will be able to serve cocktail samples in their tasting rooms with up to 25% alcohol not produced onsite. This means our industry members can produce a proper martini, Old Fashioned, etc. — to better showcase their products. Additionally, we’ve expanded the number of manufacturers’ special events licenses from four to eight for licensed Virginia distilleries.

The VDA has met with Virginia ABC to advance ongoing regulatory requests multiple times this year, and to discuss strategic partnerships for the future. There is an earnest feeling that Virginia ABC is working to provide industry support. One of the many steps Virginia ABC has/will be making to support our industry includes the assignment of a dedicated liaison to support our industry’s growing needs.

As the VDA continues to focus on short and long-term goals for regulatory matters (as written in our Vision 2020 / 2025 document), we believe that promotional activities to expand consumer awareness of our industry is equally important. We are investing more resources and time to build owned and earned media opportunities. Furthermore, we are refining our existing promotional resources to be more effective for the future, including: the September Virginia Spirits Month campaign, the Virginia Craft Spirits Roadshow initiative, and unveiling our new consumer brand assets this summer.

Lastly, we believe in idea sharing and that a rising tide raises all ships. If there is anything the VDA can do to help other states advance legislative or marketing efforts, please feel free to reach out to:

Amy Ciarametaro
Amy@VaDistillersAssociation.org
Virginia Distillers Association

 

Wyoming

Wyoming Distillers Guild

The Wyoming Distillers Guild will be holding its annual in-person meeting on May 16th in Sheridan, Wyoming at the Koltiska Distillery. Each year the Guild gathers at one of the members’ distilleries to review the year and plan for the future. It has become tradition to follow up this meeting at a local establishment with a public tasting of all of the members’ product offerings. It is always great to show the public what fantastic spirits come out of our state!

2018 has gotten off to a heck of a start with the groundbreaking news that our efforts combined with all of those from across the country resulted in the temporary passing of the Craft Beverage Modernization Act. Many of our members have already taken advantage of the FET savings by expanding operations, adding employees, and increasing marketing efforts. Our goal now is to make this change permanent so that our industry as a whole can continue to grow.

Locally, there are still a few state laws that are inhibiting our ability for growth, so we will continue to fight the good fight. Primarily we are looking toward having the ability use our liquor license to host public events off-site from our distillery, such as Farmers’ Markets, concerts, community fundraisers, etc. This would be a very significant benefit to all of us and allow us to market more directly to our end consumer, which would help generate a buzz in our communities.

Travis Goodman
Secretary, Wyoming Distillers Guild
Partner, Jackson Hole Still Works

 

Is your state guild missing?

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to reach a national audience of craft distillers and suppliers! Share your latest victories, recruit supporters, request suggestions to solve your latest challenges, and inspire fellow guilds. Email brian@artisanspiritmag.com to get involved!

 

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