A New Brewers Guild Grows in the Garden State

Citing a need for better representation on legislative matters, nine New Jersey craft brewers today announced the formation of a new state trade group — the Brewers Guild of New Jersey.

Many, if not all, of those breweries will not be renewing their memberships with New Jersey’s existing guild, the New Jersey Brewers Association, Brewbound understands.

Speaking to Brewbound, Cape May Brewing Co. co-founder and CEO Ryan Krill said the new trade group was created to “make sure that we have a trade group that represents us.”

“We’re concerned that we’re not going to have an opportunity to talk about things that are important us like franchise reform, maintaining self-distribution rights, talking about forming strategies for things on the horizon, like addressing ecommerce,” he said. “That’s at the forefront of our agenda.’

Krill, who previously served as a New Jersey Brewers Association president, said the established organization was more focused on the needs of newer, taproom-focused breweries. He added that it was no longer “the right fit for our business.”

“It’s definitely not a we’re taking our toys and going home scenario,” he said. “It’s just recognizing that as the industry has matured that there are multiple business models and there’s no one-size-fits-all association that can represent all of that.”

Membership in the Brewers Guild of New Jersey will be open to state-licensed craft breweries and brewpubs that sold at least 2,000 barrels of beer the previous year. It’s founding members include Cape May, Flying Fish Brewing Company, Kane Brewing Company, Carton Brewing Company, Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant, Riverhorse Brewing Company, Cricket Hill Brewing Company, Beach Haus Brewing Company and Spellbound Brewing Company.

Those breweries account for more than 75 percent of the craft beer produced in New Jersey, according to a press release.

This isn’t the first time a state-based brewery trade group has splintered. In 2016, 14 beer companies defected from the Colorado Brewers Guild to form Craft Beer Colorado, citing the inclusion of Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned Breckenridge Brewery on the group’s board as one of the reasons for splintering. Five months after fracturing, those groups agreed to recombine after former Colorado Brewers Guild director John Carlson stepped down.

The formation of the Brewers Guild of New Jersey has been months in the making, Krill said, adding that its members discussed strategies for starting a guild with Left Hand Brewing Co. founder Eric Wallace, who served as board chairman for the Colorado Brewers Guild last year.

“This hasn’t been done in a vacuum,” Krill said. “I can’t emphasize enough that this is not supposed to be another competing organization but rather representing different interests.”

In order to represent those breweries’ interests, the guild has hired Eric Orlando, the vice president of government and public affairs firm Kaufman Zita Group, as its first executive director. Until last week, Orlando had served as a government affairs liaison for the New Jersey Brewers Association since 2010.

“This new organization is for the folks who want to get bigger and grow more of the production side and distribution side of what they’re doing,” Orlando told Brewbound.

In addition to franchise law reform and maintaining self-distribution rights, Krill said the group also plans to advocate for continued excise tax relief included in the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which is currently set to sunset at the end of 2019.

That’s something both the Brewers Association and the Beer Institute — national trade groups representing brewery businesses — also plan to lobby for. Krill is a member of both organizations.

Orlando added that the Brewers Guild of New Jersey would advocate for ending a requirement that patrons must tour a brewing facility before on-site sales can begin.

“It’s a nuisance and a little laughable how it’s being delivered in the field,” he said.

Part of the strategy for the new trade group, Orlando said, will be to look for successful brewery programs in other states — including tax and economic development programs as well as marketing opportunities with the state’s agricultural and tourism departments — as a way to stoke growth amongst its member base.

Additionally, Orlando said the group will help to defend the state’s breweries against negative legislation.

“There could be things coming from the other tiers of the alcohol industry to limit the ability of breweries to sell their products,” he said.

The Brewers Guild of New Jersey officially launches in March.

A press release with additional details is included below.

The Brewers Guild of New Jersey Launches March 2018 and Appoints KZG’s Eric Orlando Organization’s First Executive Director

The Guild represents the interests of pioneering independent craft breweries & brewpubs in the Garden State

WEST TRENTON, NJ – To better represent the policy interests of New Jersey’s pioneering independent craft breweries and brewpubs in the region’s ultra-competitive alcoholic beverage marketplace, the state’s leading craft breweries and brewpubs announced the launch of the Brewers Guild of New Jersey and the appointment of Kaufman Zita Group (KZG) Vice President Eric Orlando as its first Executive Director. The new state-based trade group, which will initially be comprised of state-licensed craft breweries and brewpubs and making up over 75% of the independent craft beer brewed in the State of New Jersey, will work to ensure that positive trends for local, independent craft beer in the Garden State continue through the promotion of sensible, innovative policies that will help increase purchase opportunities for consumers and the overall visibility of New Jersey craft beer.

“I am thrilled to be able continue to work with the leading craft breweries in the state today,” said Eric Orlando, the new Guild Executive Director and KZG Vice President. “Since 2010, and highlighted in the passage of seminal bi-partisan craft beer reform legislation in 2012, our firm’s representation of the craft beer industry has been rewarding both personally and professionally. Now with the state’s craft beer industry on a more solid footing and having a real presence in the halls of Trenton, the demands of a maturing industry need a renewed focus on what matters not only to these licensed, highly-regulated businesses today, but the challenges to it which could be forthcoming,” said Orlando.

The founding membership of the Brewers Guild of New Jersey includes Flying Fish Brewing Company (Somerdale, NJ), Cape May Brewing Company (Cape May, NJ), Kane Brewing Company (Ocean, NJ), Carton Brewing Company (Atlantic Highlands, NJ), Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant (Voorhees and Maple Shade, NJ), Riverhorse Brewing Company (Ewing, NJ), Cricket Hill Brewing Company (Fairfield, NJ), Beach Haus Brewing Company (Belmar, NJ) and Spellbound Brewing Company (Mt. Holly, NJ).

The Guild’s membership is the foundation of today’s flourishing New Jersey craft beer industry which has grown exponentially the last decade, now numbering over 80 licensed breweries and brewpubs statewide. Guild members employ hundreds of employees at their locations, producing millions of gallons of draft and packaged beer predominately sold in retail locations like bars, restaurants and liquor stores throughout New Jersey and neighboring states. Brewers Guild of New Jersey members have won countless Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup medals in recent years, earning recognition nationwide for their award-winning, critically-acclaimed ales and lagers.

Gene Muller, a founding member of the new Guild and owner of Flying Fish Brewing Company since 1995 shared his enthusiasm for the new organization and its mission. “Over my last 20 years or so in the craft beer industry, I have seen many trends and gimmicks come and go, with one question having always persisted: how good is the beer? Producing consistently great quality beer and working tirelessly toward getting it into the hands of consumers in the marketplace are the goals of the new Guild.”

Ryan Krill, CEO and co-founder of Cape May Brewing Company, shared how the new Guild will look to support breweries as they grow and compete for their share of the craft beer dollar. “We have built Cape May Brewing Company from a 1,500 square-foot space with one beer and one account into one of New Jersey’s largest production breweries, brewing more beer daily than in our entire first year of existence. We distribute to hundreds of accounts throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania and employ nearly 70 local residents, expanding our facility three times in the past seven years. This new Guild is planned to support those like-minded breweries who see themselves following much the same trajectory we did: growing our facility to further the cause of New Jersey craft beer.”

In announcing the launch of the new organization this March, the Brewers Guild of New Jersey is also happy to announce its members will be the official New Jersey craft beer sponsors of KZG’s “8th Annual Beer and Wine Reception” at the NJ Chamber of Commerce’s “Walk to Washington” Event on Thursday, March 1st. The reception, which is the official pre-dinner reception of the Chamber’s “Walk to Washington” Event, is taking place at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Road, NW, from 4:30pm-6:30pm in the Marriott Foyer, 2nd Floor.

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