In 2,000 there were about 24 craft spirits distilleries operating in about a dozen states. As many archaic Prohibition laws have slowly changed, the number of craft spirits distilleries has expanded. Today, there are nearly 1,400 distilleries with at least one in each state representing a real cross section of Americana. Each one of those distilleries has a story. As you listen to those stories, you’ll hear one thing over and over, the desire to live the American dream – the dream to make great products, to make a difference in the community, and fulfill the entrepreneurial spirit of building a business.
As a craft spirits maker, one wears lots of hats from chemist, to banker, to builder, to welder, to woodworker, to janitor and oh yeah, distiller. And don’t forget salesman, for without sales there’s no business. The folks that go into distilling thinking it’s going to be easy learn quickly there’s nothing easy about dealing with local, state and federal government regulations, paperwork and taxes, lots and lots of taxes.
50+ Craft Spirits Makers to Fly-In to Washington, D.C.
With representation in all 50 states, the craft spirits industry now has a larger voice. A voice pulled together by the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA), a non-profit trade group founded in 2013 representing the U.S. craft spirits industry. Each year, the association coordinates a Fly-In to Washington, D.C. to help deliver a consistent message from the members to lawmakers to help shape the future of the distilling industry.
We had an opportunity to speak with Margie A.S. Lehrman, Executive Director of the ACSA and she said that this year’s meeting will include over 50 members from 25 different states. The goal of this year’s Fly-In is to build support for H.R. 747, The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. Originally introduced in 2015, the bill was reintroduced January 30, 2017 by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI). The bill seeks to amend the Internal Revenue Code, with respect to the tax treatment of certain alcoholic beverages.
There are several things in the bill but by far, the biggest single item for craft distillers is the reduction in the Federal Excise Tax (FET) rate. The bill is asking for a reduction from $13.50 to $2.70 for the first 100,000 proof gallons of spirits. This would provide parity with craft brewers and small vintners, who have enjoyed a reduced FET based on their smaller size for many years. You can learn more about the details and the impact this would have on craft spirits makers in our related story – HR 747 Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Reaches Majority in House.
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Lehrman said the goal of this year’s meeting is to increase support in the House to 60% and get a majority in the Senate. She said that ACSA members will be emphasizing to legislators and their staffs that craft distilling has a much larger footprint than just the distillery. Craft spirits distilleries have a ripple effect in their communities that include creating jobs, supporting local farmers, creating tourism destinations and of course a great craft spirits.
Can’t Make It To D.C.? Here’s What You Can Do.
For those distillers that can’t make it to D.C. this year, Lehrman said, “The important thing to do is get out and have your voice heard. Email is good but face to face is the most important and impactful kind of communication. Distillers should get out and talk to their legislators and their staffs to share their story and invite them to their distillery.”
Going to D.C.? Here’s the Complete ACSA Legislative Fly-In Agenda
Monday, July 24th, 2017
Host Hotel: Hyatt Place Washington DC/National Mall
400 E. St SW, Washington, DC, 20024 | Phone: 202.803.6110
3:00 – 6:00 PM
ACSA’s Legislative Fly-In Welcome Area in the lobby at the Hyatt Place Washington Dc/National Mall. Attendees can pick-up their welcome bag.
5:00 – 6:00 PM
Lobbying 101. This session is designed for those who are unfamiliar with meeting with Congressional offices. Come learn how to tell your story and what key points to make when visiting Capitol Hill. (Meet in Cafe Area on 2nd floor of Hyatt Place).
Meet shuttle in front of hotel for transportation to Republic Restoratives, 1369 New York Avenue NE, Washington, DC.
6:30 – 8:30 PM
Welcome Reception at Republic Restoratives distillery.
Light food and creative cocktails will be served. Come meet your colleagues who will be marching together through the halls of Congress and tour the distillery where cocktails create community.
Transportation returns to Hyatt Hotel. (If you’re making dinner reservations, you may leave directly from New York Avenue or take the return shuttle to the Mall area.)
Tuesday, July 25th, 2017
Hyatt Place Washington DC Guest Complimentary Breakfast Service Begins. A light breakfast will also be served at the morning session at the Senate.
Arrival at Dirksen Senate Office Building Located at 2nd and Constitution NE
You will need to arrive early enough to clear security. Please bring a government issued ID. If you’re walking from the Hyatt Place you should allow yourself at least 25 minutes for this scenic stroll.
ACSA’S Legislative Fly-In (Dirksen G-11 [ground])
Welcome Remarks and Introductions
Mark Shilling, President, ACSA and CEO/Founder of Revolution Spirits, TX
TTB and You: Craft Spirits Producers
Theresa McCarthy, Assistant Administrator
Headquarters Operations, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) Department of the Treasury
Craft Spirits Champion Award Senate Presentation
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
10:30 – 11:30 AM
Congressional Office Visits with ACSA Delegations
You will receive your individual meeting assignments in the folders provided when you arrive for the morning session.
11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Fundraising Luncheon with Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Chair Of The House Ways And Means Committee. Located in the Bolton Room at Capitol Hill Club, 300 First St, SE Washington, D.C.
1:30 – 5:30 PM
Congressional Delegation Meetings Continue
5:30 – 7:30 PM
Congressional Reception (Rayburn 2060 – [Basement])
Featuring ACSA members made in America Craft Spirits from across the United States. Located in the Rayburn House office building. Bounded by Independence Avenue, South Capitol Street, C Street S.W. and First Street SW. 21 and over only – ID required.
Craft Spirits Champion House Award Presentation
Free to explore D.C. restaurants and nightlife.