The Monthly Mash: December 2019 Part I

The Monthly Mash
Volume 4.12
Member-Owned, Industry-Driven
ACSA Mission:
To elevate and advocate for the community of craft spirits producers.

From the Desk of Margie A.S. Lehrman,

Chief Executive Officer

Dear Friends in Our Craft Spirits Industry:

I’m a list person. I enjoy creating bullets of tasks to accomplish and then crossing items off once the task is completed. With 2020 only days ahead, my lists are more introspective, with a focus on becoming a better person, both in my career and in my personal life.

For instance, a technology detox is in order with concrete steps to take to get my inbox more organized. I’ll be unsubscribing from unwanted/unneeded emails to better arranging folders to putting into place a system to limit my usage of stars. Some days, I feel like I’m in the galaxy with the number of starred items confronting me.

On a personal front, I’m committed to train for a 2020 Women’s Revolution bike ride from the hometown of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Johnstown, New York, where I grew up) to Seneca Falls in honor of the centennial year of women’s right to vote. It’s a mere 165 miles over two-plus days. Easy, right?

I’ve also set a goal of mindfulness to transcend both professional and personal goals. Being “in the moment” will help create better listening skills. Hopefully, it will enhance my abilities to be a better leader, colleague, friend and family member. This one will take a bit more work to perfect.

What’s on your list? Undecided? This issue of The Monthly Mash can help.

As you read about the FET relief’s one-year “victory,” you’ll surely want to create your own action item to engage with our governmental affairs committee and donate to the ACSA PAC in the year ahead. We’ll need your continued support as we again wage our battle to make permanent the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act.

Then, add to your list, steps to increase your DSPs knowledge of craft distilling. How? Read and share the current issue of CRAFT SPIRITSmagazine, sign up your employees for e-TIPS training, register your team for ACSA’s Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show in Portland in March, reward your team by giving them a registration to customized, “Master Class” pre-convention education, explore and take advantage of archived webinars, examine trends in closures with Supercaps and enroll in next month’s webinar on Spirits Trends with insight from Nielsen.

For fun, subscribe to our weekly Craft Spirits TV YouTube channel, buy a cocktail book or two, and see the results from last month’s poll and let us know what you think about kids in the distillery.

Finally, I just heard a statistic that fewer than 25% of people stick to their new year’s resolutions after only 30 days. Let’s change that and make ours stick. Let’s hold each other accountable. I’ll check back in with you and feel free to check in with me.

Until that time, wishing you a prosperous and healthy 2020.



ACSA Toasts to FET Reform Extension

Craft Distillers Earn Tax Parity Through 2020

Following approvals in the U.S. House and Senate, on Dec. 20 the President passed the Craft Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CMBTRA) as part of a larger tax package, which will give the country’s 2,000 craft spirits producers much-needed tax relief and parity with their counterparts in beer and wine, who have enjoyed a lower tax rate for many years. FET reform has been ACSA’s top legislative priority, and its extension passage marks a major victory for the distilled spirits industry, which faced a 400 percent tax hike come January 1, 2020 without legislation.

Prior to the passage, the American Craft Spirits Association, together with other major beverage industry groups, worked tirelessly to rally support for FET relief, which was set to revert back to $13.50 from $2.70 for the first 100,000 proof gallons removed from bond per year. CMBTRA had also garnered tremendous bipartisan support with endorsement by more than three-fourths of the House and Senate. Though industry groups had advocated for permanent passage, this one-year extension still provides significant continued relief. Come early 2020, ACSA, along with its industry allies in beer, wine and cider will once again begin a broader push for permanence.

Margie A.S. Lehrman, CEO, ACSA: “In a political climate that is arguably more divided than ever, we applaud Congress for working together on both sides of the aisle to support our community of 2,000 small businesses and do what is vitally important to keep our industry growing. Though FET permanence is critical to the long-term success of our industry and the peripheral industries we support, including U.S. agriculture and hospitality, today we celebrate a small but critical victory. But tomorrow, we will again shift gears to focus on permanent tax relief and long-term parity with our friends in craft beer and wine.”

Chris Montana, President, ACSA and Co-Owner, Du Nord Craft Spirits: “As President of ACSA and a craft spirits producer myself, I know firsthand the struggles we all face in forecasting our financial futures. This one year extension is a certain step in the right direction, but the need for permanent reform is evident as ever. Without the certainty of a longer-term reduction, it remains difficult to plan for growth and expand.”

Mark Shilling, Immediate Past President and Board of Directors, ACSA:“Although FET relief through 2020 is a great step forward, there is much work yet to do. A one year extension temporarily saves jobs and keeps businesses afloat, but also continues the cycle of uncertainty and this uncertainty means owners cannot plan and manage into the future, and potential investors will be anxious about additional investments into the industry.”

ACSA Board Converges on D.C. & Baltimore

The week before the House and Senate voted on the FET relief extension and it was signed into law, ACSA’s Board of Directors made an 11th-hour push to make sure Congress acted on the Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act before it expired on December 31. The Capitol Hill visit was a core action item on the agenda for the Board’s annual retreat in nearby Baltimore. We’d like to extend a special thanks to Baltimore Spirits Company and Sagamore Spirit for hosting Board members during the retreat.

Have you read the latest issue

of Craft Spirits magazine?

Introducing Kate Farrington, ACSA/Craft SpiritsMagazine’s New Sales & Development Director

We’d like to extend a warm welcome to Kate Farrington, who will serve as ACSA’s Sales and Development Director. Kate, who officially joins the ACSA team on January 2, will be responsible for cultivating partnerships and sponsorships for the Association and driving all advertising and associated revenue for all publications, including Craft Spirits magazine,, The Monthly Mash and Craft Spirits Weekly.

All advertising inquiries can be directed to Kate at beginning in January.

Kate possesses extensive experience in nonprofit management including business development, communications, operations, relationship building, and strategic planning.

For many years, Kate served as the Director of Meetings at the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy in Washington, DC. She worked closely with industry leaders to develop educational conferences and programming. In addition to program design, she directed event logistics, marketing efforts and supported internal operations. Kate has an entrepreneurial attitude and has run a boutique floral design company helping to make unique weddings and celebrations.

As a native of the Finger Lakes Region of New York, she has long been interested in agriculture, the farm to table movement and innovation in food, wine and spirits. She resides in Rochester NY with her husband, daughter, dog and cat. She holds a BA in Psychology from Penn State University and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University.

Please join us in welcoming Kate to the ACSA team!

Discover New Member Benefits

Free eTIPS Registration

ACSA partnered with TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) which offers a dynamic, skills-based training program designed to prevent intoxication, drunk driving and underage drinking. It provides you with the opportunity to build a responsible drinking culture by offering the best server training in the industry.

Each business receives a complimentary passport to the online eTIPS certification course. Members also receive discounts ($10 off the $40 course) for additional eTips registrations so your entire team can learn and In person training discounts are also available.

To receive your eTIPS registration, please contact Carason Lehmann at

Journey to Craftlandia and Empower Your Distillery

We are finalizing the schedule for ACSA’s 7th Annual Distillers’ Convention & Vendor Trade Show in Portland, Oregon. If you have yet to register, click the links below to join us March 29-31, 2020. This month, we’re showcasing presenters based in the Pacific Northwest Here’s a glimpse at what we’ll have to offer.


Living in Excess: The Business and Legal Considerations for Turning Unused Capacity into Revenue

Presenters: Corey Day and Claire Mitchell, Stoel Rives LLP (Portland, Oregon)

Distilleries looking to get out of the red or just looking to maximize revenue, can turn to creative methods to use and/or sell their excess capacity. Each state has its own specific requirements so our presentation will be focused on the big picture with resources on where distillers can find their local restrictions. This presentation will cover the business and the legal aspects of using/selling excess capacity. Our distiller co-presenter(s) will speak about the logistics, marketing and recipe formulations. The attorney co-presenters will cover the contracting terms, licensing and insurance concerns.

Privacy and Data Security Essentials for Spirits Companies 

Presenters: Brian DeFoe and Brandon Archuleta, Lane Powell (Seattle)

As a spirits company, what are your obligations with respect to data privacy and security, how do you comply with those obligations, and what do you do if and when something goes wrong and a data breach occurs?

2019 Spirits Industry M&A Year in Review: Factors Driving Robust Investment Activity

Presenter: Kevin O’Brien, Zepponi & Company (Portland, Oregon)

As the craft spirits industry continues to grow in popularity and influence, there has been a considerable number of minority and majority investments in the past few years. With the industry continuing to expand and become more competitive, it is important for craft distillers to understand what transactions have occurred, the rationale behind these investments and how these deals may impact their business.

This presentation will review the transactions that have occurred in 2019 and provide context as to the logic behind the deals. Supporting information will include relevant spirits industry market data, overall beverage alcohol growth trends and updated distributor consolidation charts. Additionally, the presenters will provide some insight into recent trends regarding changing demographics and perceptions relating to alcohol that may have an impact on the spirits industry into the future.

In-Pack Stability of Spirit-Based Drinks

Presenter: Paul Hughes, Oregon State University (Corvallis, OR)

Oregon State University’s Paul Hughes will explore how critical in-pack stability is in terms of flavor, color and microbial activity and consistency. He’ll also delve into how packaging materials can obscure delicate flavors in drinks and how product novelty may give rise to unpredictable stability issues.

Master Classes Open for Registration

In addition to the previously mentioned educational presentations, registration is now open for our master classes. ACSA Education Committee Co-Chairs Jake Holshue, Courtney McKee and Amber Pollock tell us more in this video:
Pre Convention Distillery 101 Education video
New Distillery Start-Up 101
In the beginning stages of planning your distillery? This overview will cover the basics of the industry including finding a lender, creating a business plan, selecting your site, equipment and material; safety and compliance; and sales and marketing.
$200 (members) & $350 (non-members)
Tasting and Sensory Class
This one-day course will start by examining the tasting biases that affect our judgments, and will also cover how to use tasting and sensory practices to ensure quality control and how to use barrels to target specific flavor development. The course also will explore different varieties and flavors of malt.

$399 (members) & $699 (non-members)

Boost Your Brand in 2020

Give your brand a boost by becoming a sponsor for ACSA’s 7th Annual Distillers’ Convention & Vendor Trade Show March 29-31 in Portland, Oregon. ACSA seeks support from those who support our mission: to elevate and advocate for the community of craft spirits producers. This will be our largest gathering where hundreds will enjoy unparalleled networking and learning opportunities.
A limited number of sponsorship opportunities, designed to maximize your marketing exposure, are still available. To learn more, contact Teresa McDaniel at 502.807.4249 or

©2024 American Craft Spirits Association; All Rights Reserved. Member Owned, Industry Driven.

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