Each year at the migratory Craft Brewers Conference, held this past weekend in San Francisco, the Brewers Association recognizes and honors three members of the craft brewing industry. Jennifer Talley of Squatters Pub Brewery/Salt Lake Brewing Co. won the Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Brewing, becoming the first woman to win this award. With over 20 years of brewing experience and multiple medals from the Great American Beer Fest under her belt, Talley was also feted by John Harris, brewmaster at Full Sail who received the award in 2001. “She has all of the character of previous winners of this award,” said Harris, referencing such past winners as Vinnie Cilurzo from Russian River and Dan Carey from New Glarus. He added that Talley has “a passion for beer, passion for our industry and passion for expanding her and her fellow brewers’ knowledge.”
The Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Brewing was created to honor Russell Schehrer who died in 1996. He co-founded Colorado’s first brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing, and his innovations include creating or reintroducing several styles of beer.
The Brewers Association Recognition Award went to John McDonald of Boulevard Brewing Co. The award has been bestowed to members of all facets of the brewing industry and community, beginning with renowned beer writer Michael Jackson in 1987. Two years later, McDonald founded Boulevard near the geographic center of the country, Kansas City, thereby becoming one of the first to introduce small batch brewing to the Midwest. His brewery today employs over 90 people and has a capacity near 600,000 barrels. An ebullient McDonald was spotted in a hospitality suite after the award ceremony receiving thanks and congratulations.
Last but not least, the F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award went to Dan Kopman of St. Louis Brewery/Schlafly Beer. Despite or because of working in the shadow of the towering Anheuser-Busch brewery in the same city, Kopman is recognized for his leadership within the craft brewing industry and his work to ensure that his fellow brewers are treated fairly by federal regulations. His tireless efforts include promoting the BEER Act. The Brewer’s Employment and Excise Relief Act, introduced by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), would reduce the beer excise tax for craft brewers.
The F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award is actually in memoriam to F.X. Matt II (1993-2001), whose grandfather created the West End Brewery in 1888 before it was eponymously renamed. Previous recipients include Steve Hindy, co-owner of the Brooklyn Brewery (2010) and Daniel Bradford, past BAA president and publisher of All About Beer Mgazine (2006).