Members of the Beer Institute convened in Boston, Massachusetts this week for their annual meeting, where they celebrated the organization’s 25th anniversary. The more than 100 attendees were comprised of brewers, importers, suppliers, wholesalers and other invited guests. The meeting focused on the beer industry’s economic contributions to the U.S. economy, the “brand of beer,” the industry’s responsibility efforts and the positive impact beer has on society.
“We always have to keep people aware of how important we are to the U.S. economy,” said Anheuser-Busch CEO and Beer Institute Chairman Dave Peacock. “In a country that is moving away from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, our industry represents something unique and special.”
The meeting’s special guest speaker, U.S. Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), underscored the need to foster a more friendly business climate in Massachusetts and around the country – including lowering excise taxes on beer – so the industry can continue to grow and create jobs.
“Lowering taxes on brewers and the industry will allow the industry to thrive,” said Brown who was met with thunderous applause when he announced, “I’m a beer drinker and that’s all I drink.”
Brown concluded, “If I see something that makes no sense and is a job-killer, I’m going to speak up.”
The Beer Institute paid special attention this year to the “brand of beer” and how policymakers, regulators and consumers perceive the industry. The Beer Institute emphasized the theme by inviting David Ridley, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Southwest Airlines, to speak on his experiences building and maintaining the brand of one of the country’s most successful airlines. The meeting also featured a retailer panel, which focused on the role brands play in their businesses.
Peacock encouraged attendees to tap into the passion for beer and connect with it as an industry and with the industry’s many unique brands. “Beer can be a positive ingredient in our culture and it’s up to us to write this narrative of beer’s role in our society,” he said.
“The brand of Beer is defined by the strength of the great individual brands that make up our industry,” said Joe McClain, President of the Beer Institute. “Industry success and our ability to achieve policy goals, is directly tied to our individual brands and the brand of beer.”
Ridley talked about the importance of people and passion in building a powerful brand – principles that are just as applicable to the beer industry as they are to airlines. “Southwest Airlines hires people for attitude and trains them for aptitude,” Ridley said. “Our brand really is our people. Business is about people.”
The meeting also focused on the industry’s responsibility efforts, which have contributed to declines in underage drinking and drunk driving in recent decades. Despite the positive trends, “there’s the opportunity for all of us to do more,” said Peacock.
Marc Bruno, President of ARAMARK Sports & Entertainment and a participant in the retailer panel, echoed Peacock’s remarks. “The message of responsibility needs to be consistent and everyone should be a part of it,” Bruno said.
As part of the annual membership meeting, McClain presented the Jeff Becker Beer Industry Service Award to Dr. Mack Mitchell, President of ABMRF/The Foundation for Alcohol Research. “Working with the industry has been one of the things that is most rewarding to me and shows how valuable it is to collaborate with people whose interests and needs may be different,” said Dr. Mitchell while accepting the award.
Earlier in the week, Brooklyn Brewery President Steve Hindy was named to the Beer Institute Board of Directors, replacing Rich Doyle of Harpoon Brewery who will remain on the organization’s non-voting ex officio board. The three-day event also featured a reception at the Sam Adams brewery hosted by the Boston Beer Company and a lobster bake hosted by the Harpoon Brewery and Anheuser-Busch.
“We get to go to a bar and call it work. Let’s never forget how special that is,” Peacock concluded.
The Beer Institute, established in 1986, is the national trade association for the brewing industry, representing both large and small brewers, as well as importers and industry suppliers. The Institute is committed to the development of sound public policy and to the values of civic duty and personal responsibility: www.BeerInstitute.org.