Last Call: Center for Public Integrity Investigates Distributor Lobbying Power


Distributor Lobbying Power Put Under Microscope

In June, as reported by Brewbound, Kentucky passed a law that forced both Rhinegeist Brewery, a small beer company from Ohio, and Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, to sell off distributorships it owned in the state. Using that case a starting point, the Center for Public Integrity this week ran an illuminating piece highlighting the lobbying power established distributors have displayed, in Kentucky and beyond, in driving such legislative efforts.

While the story delves into some of the legislative issues Brewbound has covered extensively – namely in Kentucky, Georgia and North Carolina – it also lays bare the sheer amount of money each tier of the beer industry spent on lobbying in state politics in 2014. Distributors spent the most.

Broken down: In 2014 state elections, beer distributors gave approximately $14.6 million to state candidates, parties and ballot issue groups, per the article. Alcohol manufacturers gave about $5.3 million and retailers chipped in another $2 million, the site found.

The story also includes an anecdote from a North Carolina lawmaker that stood out as rather disconcerting, not only as it relates to the beer industry, but to the entire democratic process:

“This spring, North Carolina state Rep. Chuck McGrady, a Republican from Hendersonville, sent his colleagues a draft of a bill he planned to introduce. The bill would have helped local craft breweries by allowing them to distribute more of their own beer. Not long after, two of the co-sponsors called and asked him to remove their names.

‘Those legislators told me the beer and wine wholesalers in their area had already called and they were big contributors to the campaign,’ McGrady said. ‘They still supported the bill, but they didn’t want to be on it. It was really rather striking.’”

Rather striking, indeed!

Steve Hindy on the Best Advice He Ever Got

Speaking with Business Insider, Brooklyn Brewery founder Steve Hindy said the best advice he ever received was from the brewery’s packaging designer, Milton Glaser. If that name sounds familiar, Glaser was the man behind the iconic and ubiquitous “I ♥ NY” logo:

“Milton told me that one of the first questions he asks himself when he encounters a potential client or business partner is, ‘Do I like this person? Do I want to work with this person?’ If the answer is no, he does not pursue the relationship,” Hindy says. “This is not to say you have to be best friends with everyone you do business with… But rather you have to respect the business partner and see benefit for you and your company in the relationship.”

Fritz Maytag on His Role in Beer Today

Anchor Brewing is undoubtedly one of the founding pioneers of what we now call the craft beer movement. As such, it’s a touch humorous that the Fritz Maytag, who in 1965 saved the company by acquiring a majority stake and sold his interest in 2010, seems to miss operating in the good old days of bland.


“I didn’t like being part of a parade. We had been the only craft brewery in the world by our standards for years and years, so it was a strange feeling to be a part of a movement instead of a pioneer… I didn’t like that. I like being unique.”

Miami Dolphins Punter Home Brews in Offseason

Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields is quite the avid home brewer it turns out. In an All About Beer profile, the veteran pro bowl punter says he was first turned on to craft beer after trying Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale. It’s a curious choice given that Fields played college ball in his home state of Michigan and has spent his entire professional career in Florida – which is to say, no Bell’s? No Cigar City?

Either way, since his career began, Fields has developed a friendship with Ryan Sentz, owner of Funky Buddha (about half an hour from Sun Life Stadium where the Dolphins play) and has been around to watch the state’s craft beer scene evolve.

“The beer culture in general down here is a little bit behind some of the other big cities around the country, but it’s starting to pick up pretty good,” he told the website. “Restaurants are starting to carry more craft beers, and you find a lot more options these days.”