To elevate and advocate for the community of craft spirits producers.
From the Desk of Margie A.S. Lehrman,
Chief Executive Officer
Dear Colleagues in Our Craft Spirits Community:
About this time of year when we retire our flip-flops and beach bags for closed toes shoes (or boots) and knapsacks (well … at least the kids on the street), I’m reminded of the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. And, this issue of The Monthly Mash is a kindred spirit (no pun intended).
If you haven’t yet done so, glance at our newest initiative— Craft Spirits Magazine . Better yet, READ this publication. In its collective wisdom, the ACSA Board of Directors suggested ACSA augment our communications to you—the heart and soul of the industry. We acted. It’s been a year in the making and I think you’ll find there is a “golden nugget” to be found for every reader. If past is indeed prologue, we have lots to look forward to in each issue. Let us know what you think.
During our educational programs, you might find yourself WRITING notes of how you might do things a bit differently. Look at and sign up for our upcoming webinars and plan to attend our regional SAFETY program in Texas. Our customized program is hand-crafted to meet the needs of each distiller. If you haven’t yet been trained in how you can protect both person and property, now is your time. Take a peek at our most recent program held in Philadelphia if you need further convincing.
Don’t stop there. Applying the principles of ARITHMETIC, count the number of days before the early bird expiration for our annual Judging Competition and annual Distillers Convention and Vendor Trade Show. If you are a thought leader within the industry, you’ll want to grab a booth to show your services/wares in our larger exhibit hall (we’ll be at the Oregon Convention Center so now have room to expand). Get a preview of what Portland will offer in a story below from Craft Spirits Magazine.
Finally, a trade group lives and breathes because of its members—you! Celebrate the success of the very first member of our alumni tier, Smooth Ambler, and see what its co-owner and master distiller has to say about current industry challenges.
As long as we’re thinking about the Three Rs, by now you’ve read that the FET reduction will expire at the end of the year, unless we continue to press Congress to act. We’ve asked you to drop a note to your elected federal legislators. By our math, we have just over three months to move passage so you can continue to benefit from the reduction. Look for our next announcement for a national CALL CONGRESS DAY. We’ll add a Fourth R to our agenda—RELIEF!
ACSA Launches Digital Properties
The American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) is pleased to introduce its new digital, bi-monthly publication, Craft Spirits Magazine and its daily-news companion website, CraftSpiritsMag.com .
Both the digital magazine and the website officially launched on Friday, August 16, 2019. Craft Spirits Magazine is the unparalleled resource for in-depth insight and intelligence for the entire craft spirits universe. The digital magazine, published six times per year, features the information and analysis that independent spirits producers and allied businesses across all three tiers of the spirits industry need to operate in today’s complex craft beverage market. Meanwhile, the official website, CraftSpiritsMag.com, offers up-to-the-minute news, videos and features to keep the industry informed every single day.
Craft Spirits Magazine, published in digital, interactive, full-color flip-book format on the web-based Issuu platform, is available to all craft spirits producers and allied professionals across the distilled spirits supply chain—including distributors, importers, retailers, bar and hospitality managers, bartenders, educators, brand ambassadors, sommeliers, suppliers and more.
“ACSA is excited to offer exactly the sort of entrepreneurial, innovation, market trend and technical insights the craft producers and their trading partners need to successfully run their businesses every day,” says Chris Montana, President of the ACSA. “The digital pages of Craft Spirits Magazine and the latest breaking news on CraftSpiritsMag.com will provide readers with all of that.”
Adds ACSA CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman, “The information and market intel that our members and industry allies are able to access via Craft Spirits Magazine and CraftSpiritsMag.com are nothing short of invaluable. We look forward to helping distillers and industry allies boost their operational and business smarts with every issue of the bi-monthly digital publication and with every click on the website.”
Readers will find a wide range of topics in the pages of Craft Spirits Magazine and on CraftSpiritsMag.com, as evidenced on the pages of the inaugural issue. The cover feature focuses on the craft spirits industry’s number-one legislative priority, securing permanent Federal Excise Tax relief. The issue also includes articles on packaging, formulation, managing a tasting room, distribution and so much more.
Editor in Chief Jeff Cioletti leads Craft Spirits Magazine and CraftSpiritsMag.com, whose experienced team also includes Assistant Editor Jon Page, Art Director Michelle Villas and Sales Manager Todd Cusumano. Cioletti brings 25 years of editorial experience to his role, having previously served as Editor in Chief of Beverage World magazine. He’s also the author of five beverage alcohol books. Page is also no stranger to the drinks world, as he most recently served as Managing Editor of All About Beer Magazine. Villas previously worked with Cioletti at Beverage World as the magazine’s art director and also is the Senior Art Director for a range of lifestyle publications at The Golden State Company. Cusumano brings more than 30 years of media and events sales to his role at Craft Spirits Magazine.
“I’m incredibly lucky to work with such a talented, creative —including a veritable ‘Murderers’ Row’ of seasoned writers and contributors—whose remarkable skills are visibly on display in Issue number one,” Cioletti says. “Our team is passionate about this industry and I think it shows in the quality of the work throughout both the magazine and the website. I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity with ACSA.”
ACSA also has assembled an Editorial Board of advisors, drawn from all facets of the craft spirits communities, who’ll share their insights on a regular basis and help the editors guide the trajectory of the Association’s publications. Editorial Board members include Eli Aguilera, Senior Vice President of Merchandising for top retailer Total Wine & More; renowned whiskey writer Lew Bryson; spirits public relations professional Alexandra Clough of Gather PR; Sly Cosmopoulos, corporate mixologist for Republic National Distributing Co.; Dan Gasper, co-founder of Distill Ventures and founder of the Business Development Partnership; and Dr. Dawn Maskell, Director of the International Centre for Brewing & Distilling and professor at Heriot-Watt University’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Register Now for the 7th Annual ACSA Convention in Portland, Oregon
Journey to Craftlandia with Us March 29-31, 2020
If you attend only one industry convention next year, make it the 7th Annual ACSA Distillers’ Convention & Vendor Trade Show at the Oregon Convention Center. At the only trade show created by and for craft distillers, you will:
Network with fellow craft spirits producers, leading suppliers and industry experts
Accelerate growth with insights drawn from 30-plus hours of education sessions
Kickstart a new business concept learning from peer best practices
Participate and taste our industry’s best spirts at the Annual Spirits Awards dinner and tasting.
Register now to take advantage of early-bird pricing!
Are your spirits worthy of gold? Find out by registering for ACSA’s 7th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits competition.
ACSA takes great pride in conducting a rigorously professional judging program that recognizes the best craft spirits in the categories of Vodka/Grain, Gin, Brandy, Rum, Whiskey, and Specialty Spirits. We are also excited to announce that we are now accepting international spirits.
Judging will take place Oct. 29-30, 2019, at Cardinal Spirits in Bloomington, Indiana, and category medalists will be announced on March 30, 2020, at the Awards Banquet during ACSA Distillers’ Convention & Vendor Trade Show at the Oregon Convention Center. Register your spirits today to take advance of early bird pricing.
ACSA Members Early Bird (now until 9/2/19): $200 per spirit
Regular Pricing (9/3/19 to 10/4/19): $250 per spirit
Late Riser (10/5/19 to 10/18/19): $275 per spirit
Early Bird (now until 9/2/19): $300 per spirit
Regular Pricing (9/3/19 to 10/4/19): $350 per spirit
Trademark Law 101: How to Protect Your Brands in an Ever-competitive Craft Spirits Marketplace
Join attorney Rick Biagi of Neal & McDevitt as he helps us navigate the increasingly complex world of spirits trademark law, offering a critical primer on the legal issues craft spirits producers confront on a daily basis. This engaging, hour-long webinar will offer insight on a number of pressing trademark-related concerns:
How to clear a new brand to ensure that you can use it without fear of infringing and hopefully be able to enjoy some level of exclusivity
How and when to register your trademarks in the U.S. and abroad
Best practices for protecting your brands (i.e., when and when not to pick trademark fights)
Sponsored by Industrial Safety and Training Services
Is safety a priority at your distillery? Whether you are starting a safety program or looking to improve your existing program, ACSA has partnered with ISTS to bring you an OSHA 10 Certification Course specific to distilleries—held at a distillery.
What else is in it for you? Well, after this course, you will:
Recognize and Prevent Health and Safety Hazards in Your DSP
Evaluate Your Facility Through the Eyes of an OSHA Inspector
Have Hands-on Auditing Practice in an Actual Distillery
Receive an OSHA 10 Card From Eastern Kentucky University
Take Home the Knowledge to Ensure a Safe Workplace and Prevent Hefty Fines for OSHA Violations
Join us for two days, November 4th and 5th at Garrison Bros. in Hye, Texas.
This course is open to ACSA members and non-members alike
Thank you to everyone who made the Philadelphia edition of the OSHA 10 Certification Course a huge success and extra special thanks to Philadelphia Distilling for hosting the seminar on August 19 and 20.
Here’s what some Philadelphia attendees had to say:
“I had just completed putting together a safety training manual and rolled it out to a couple of new hires, included in their onboarding packet. Creating a safe environment was one of our top goals. The first day of the class in Philly, it was clear we still had a lot of work to do. The hands-on approach at this site made the standards very easy to understand and applicable to my work environment. The depth of knowledge of the instructor and unfortunate experiences he shared reinforced the message. It was beneficial to learn what others were doing in their facility as well. After returning to Columbus and sharing what I had learned, we’ve already taken major steps in strengthening our environment and safety manual to create a safe workspace and adhere to the compliance standards.”
“When I used to think about OSHA, I would think about the big bad government coming in and fining me. I am not saying that does not happen, but I have a much better appreciation for the spirit of OSHA which is about building a culture of safety in the workplace. OSHA compliance can be overwhelming, expensive, and time consuming. That being said, there are a lot of simple, quick and inexpensive fixes that you can make to improve compliance and overall distillery safety. The class helped me become aware of many issues we have at the distillery, prioritize their importance, and also provide some ideas for implementing fixes. A week after the class we already addressed many of our compliance issues and have made key improvements. You don’t achieve compliance overnight, but we took some great steps in the right direction. We also have a better understanding of the path forward. The class was very enlightening and it’s very important for our industry that does not do a good enough job to prioritize safety.”
—Max Pfeffer, Director of Operations, Manatawny Still Works (Pottstown, Pennsylvania)
Save the Date for Upcoming Webinars
Sept. 19: The Road Best Traveled: Partnering With Your Local Convention & Visitors Bureau
Distilleries have become essential in driving tourism to their local regions. Find out how you can work with your area’s CVB to maximize opportunities for your distillery and provide the optimal visitor experience.
Sept. 25: Metal Heads: The Canned Cocktail Revolution
Aluminum cans have become the preferred container for RTD cocktails, as they’re lightweight and are permitted in more venues (festivals, concerts, sporting events, beaches, etc.). Hear from a panel of spirits producers who’ve successfully launched craft cocktails and learn about the challenges and rewards of adding a RTD line to your portfolio.
Oct. 15: Fruitful Endeavors: The State of the U.S. Brandy Market
As the October edition of Craft Spirits Magazine is the Brandy Issue, we welcome a panel of American brandy producers to share their stories and offer their insights on the state of the American brandy market—and what lies ahead for the category.
Explore Our Educational Archives
ACSA offers a vast array of educational programs, from monthly webinars to annual conventions. If you missed a webinar, we invite you to browse our archives and discover the tools you need to succeed.
On the craft beverage front, Portland’s claim to fame was as the pre-eminent beer city in the U.S.—many might even say the world. And that helped set the stage for craft spirits producers within the Rose City limits, now numbering in the double-digits.
“I think it’s a natural progression,” observes ACSA Board member Molly Troupe, partner and master distiller at Freeland Spirits, which launched its namesake gin in late 2017 and opened its distillery and tasting room in northwest Portland about a year ago. “When you’ve seen the craft beer movement, people have really responded not just to the fact that they were making good beer, but that they had something to say. And I think that’s where a lot of craft spirits have gone as well.”
Given the city’s pioneering pedigree, one might (naively) assume that launching a distillery and developing a full-fledged craft spirits scene is a walk in the park. But Portland is a far more complicated environment than the average “Portlandia” viewer might think—especially a decade after the heyday of its Distillery Row.
“Portland’s been an interesting place,” says Christian Krogstad, co-founder of House Spirits Distillery, which opened there 15 years ago. “I think it is a good bellwether for the national distilling scene just as it was for the national brewing scene.”
ACSA recently created a new class of membership, the Alumni tier, open to DSPs that had been ACSA members for at least a year but are no longer eligible to be Voting Members due to having outgrown the 750,000 proof gallon production limit, or having merged with or been acquired by an ineligible entity. The charter Alumni Member is West Virginia’s Smooth Ambler, known for Smooth Ambler Contradiction, Big Level Bourbon and Old Scout American Whiskey. In late 2016, Pernod Ricard bought a majority stake in the distillery. Smooth Ambler co-founder and master distiller John Little shared some insights on the role of the Alumni Member within the broader spirits landscape.
Tell us about what you see as the importance of being a part of ACSA?
John Little: It’s important to be a part of any industry in which you’re involved. ACSA has taken a leadership role in education and legislation, which in my opinion, are two of the most important categories in our segment of the industry. It’s time for Smooth Ambler, and for me, personally, to be involved.
What do you see as the biggest issues confronting craft spirits producers today?
Education—safety, efficient/quality production, etc.—and legislative issues. I would hope that most folks are keen to get educated by themselves. But legislative issues require one collective voice, guided by the membership and its leadership, to be effective.
ACSA’s 2018 Annual Report is now available, The report includes a look back at all of our activities throughout 2018, as well as key government affairs initiatives, highlights from the most recent Craft Spirits Data Project and ACSA’s full annual budget. If you would like to receive a copy of the report, please e-mail Carason Lehmann at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include the subject line “2018 Annual Report.” Also, the report is now available for download in PDF form at the ACSA website.
We showcase notable books of interest to the craft spirits community.
Cocktails with a Twist: 21 Classic Recipes, 141 Great Cocktails.
Author: Kara Newman
Publisher: Chronicle Books
For anyone looking to expand their palate and discover a new favorite go-to drink, this inventive cocktail book is just the thing. Each chapter is based on a classic (like the Manhattan), but inside the unique gatefolds, readers will discover numerous riffs (like swapping Irish whiskey for rye to make a Blackthorn, or substituting amaro for vermouth to make a Black Manhattan). More than 100 variations on 21 modern classic cocktail recipes are accompanied by helpful tips on keeping a well-stocked bar, garnishing drinks, and throwing a party. With bold coloring and a foil cover, Cocktails with a Twist is a handsome addition to any home bar. And with 21 gatefolds, with classic recipes and intriguing variants, this is a cocktail book unlike any other.
Drink Like a Geek: Cocktails, Brews, and Spirits for the Nerd in All of Us
Author: Jeff Cioletti
Sci-fi and fantasy worlds are full of characters who know that sometimes magic happens at the bar. Drink Like a Geek, the fifth book by Craft Spirits Magazine Editor in Chief, Jeff Cioletti, is a look at iconic drinks and the roles they play in our favorite movies, shows, books and comics. It’s also a toast to the geeks, nerds and gamers who keep this culture alive.
Drink Like a Geek is a fan encyclopedia and cocktail book. Because audience participation is strongly encouraged, dozens of recipes for otherworldly cocktails, brews and booze are included.
Cioletti’s book includes boozy tidbits on beloved pop culture properties such as Star Wars , Star Trek , Doctor Who , the James Bond film series, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones , Marvel, Breaking Bad and much more.