To elevate and advocate for the community of craft spirits producers.
From the Desk of Margie A.S. Lehrman,
Chief Executive Officer
Loan Officer: “Thanks so much for your time. I’m just trying to figure out whether we loan $$$ to X distillery. This industry is new to our portfolio and we’re trying to see if it makes sense.”
University Professor: “I’m working with MBA students and I’m interested in learning more about craft spirits. We have lots of data on brewing but don’t know much about spirits manufacturing. Is it a viable business?”
Media: “I’m working on a story about the impact of craft distilling on the American economy. How many are currently operating in the United States? Is there still growth or is it now stagnate? You talk about small businesses—about how many employees work in this sector?”
ABC Regulator: “I’d like to know the importance of sales from the manufacturing facility. Is it important to have sales from the tasting room? What’s happening in other states?”
U.S. Senator or Representative: “You mean there are over 2,250 distillers who might benefit from using the U.S. Postal Service to ship products? Why aren’t we doing that?”
These questions may seem random, but they are indeed asked—and asked often. Until 2016 when the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA) partnered with Park Street and IWSR to conduct our first economic data study, numbers would be thrown out by various groups on the economic state of our union. We witnessed a trend that if a number was repeated enough times, that number became fact. We knew it wasn’t so and launched the Craft Spirits Data Project (CSDP), the first comprehensive national data study that looks at our craft spirits industry.
Now in its sixth year, we’ve watched our (factual) numbers grow. For example, in 2016, we reported the market share of U.S. craft spirits reached 2.2% in volume and 3.0% in value in 2015, up from .8% in volume and 1.1% in value in 2010. Last year, we reported the U.S. craft spirits market share of total U.S. spirits reached 4.6% in volume and 6.9% in value in 2019.
Now it is time to study our impact for the 2020 calendar year. What really happened to our industry during a time of tremendous change. Tasting rooms shuttered at the same time some states benefitted from direct-to-consumer (DtC) delivery. On-premise closed but we could offer cocktails or bottle sales to go. We kept producing, even with a broken supply chain.
Let’s not conjecture, however. Let’s get to the facts. See below to learn how you can participate in our data study, which just opened last week. Let’s tell investors, loan officers, professors, media, regulators and legislators what is happening in our industry.
Of course, there are other action items for you. ACSA seeks your help to guide our input to the TTB on competition in the spirits industry, and we’re excited to announce that registration is now open for our second annual Craft Spirits Packaging Awards. You can also get to know more about our sponsor Lallemand, sign up for upcoming webinars and peruse the schedule for our 8th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show. We can’t wait to see you in person in Louisville this December.
Be well and be safe,
Announcing the Release of the Craft Spirits Data Project Survey
Lots of people want to know what is happening in the spirits industry. There is ample data available on the large brands and big spirits houses. What about us craft spirits producers? The American Craft Spirits Association, with its hand-selected partner, Park Street, announces the release of the chief economic data study for craft spirits producers: Craft Spirits Data Project Survey. The survey is shorter this year and is now ready for your feedback. Don’t delay in providing your feedback to this all-important effort.
Help ACSA Provide Input on Economic Competition in Spirits
The American Craft Spirits Association needs your help to guide our input on economic competition in the spirits industry.
President Joe Biden recently issued an executive order on promoting competition in the American economy, which included a section on beverage alcohol. Pursuant to the order, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has issued a request for information to solicit input regarding the current market structure and conditions of competition in the American markets for beer, wine, and spirits, including an assessment of any threats to competition and barriers to new entrants. TTB’s deadline for responses is Aug. 18.
The American Craft Spirits Association plans to submit the collective input of craft distillers for the report. To help us better understand your needs, please complete the following survey by no later than midnight on Saturday, Aug. 7.
Second Annual Competition Open to Producers of Craft Spirits
ACSA and CRAFT SPIRITS magazine are thrilled to announce that registration is now open for the second annual Craft Spirits Packaging Awards. Sponsored by the Glass Packaging Institute, the competition celebrates excellence and creativity in the design of craft spirits labels and packaging. Medalists will be announced at ACSA’s Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show this December and will be featured in the January 2022 issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine.
Entries will be judged by an independent panel of industry and design experts in the following categories:
Best Brandy Packaging
Best Gin Packaging
Best Rum Packaging
Best Specialty Spirits Packaging
Best Vodka & Grain Packaging
Best Whiskey Packaging
Best Portfolio (Recognizing outstanding packaging across a range of products three or more products. Must be entered separately from individual entries.)
Best in Show
Aesthetics: How does the packaging appeal to you from a design/artistic perspective?
Innovation: How original is the design? Does it stand out on a shelf?
Emotional Appeal: How does the packaging make you feel? Does it connect with you?
Brand Communication: How well does the packaging tell the story of the brand/product through visual/design/copy elements?
The packages that rate highly on all of those criteria are the ones that connect with consumers and drive trial and sales, even when those consumers have not previously encountered your products. The best brands are dressed for success.
ACSA Members: $40 per entry; $100 per portfolio entry
Non-members: $55 per entry; $140 per portfolio entry
Stay Tuned for Updates on ACSA’s Judging of Craft Spirits and Heartland Whiskey Competition
Judging has completed for both our annual Judging of Craft Spirits and the biennial Heartland Whiskey Competition. Please stay tuned for updates on when we will announce the medalists.
Plot Your Path to ACSA’s 8th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show
After recently hosting the 2021 Heartland Whiskey Competition at the Galt House Hotel and immersing ourselves in Derby City, we’re more excited than ever to see you (and Louisville) again in early December for ACSA’s 8th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show. Although the convention is four months away, you can now take a glance at the schedule and begin plotting your journey through educational presentations, our trade show and more.
Additional Non-Member Attendees (1-5): $625 per person
Additional Non-Member Attendees (6+): $120 per person
If you register as a voting member, you’ll receive discounts on convention registration and competition fees, free webinars (including our archives), and more. Sign-up here to join ACSA’s craft spirits community!
If you need to check registration status or have any immediate questions, please contact Teresa McDaniel at (502) 807-4249 and/or email@example.com.
Are you a Non-resident Supplier in Texas?
The Texas Legislature has directed TABC to consolidate 75 licenses down to 37 licenses by Sept. 1, 2021. A benefit to the regulated industry is that, due to their directive, most permittees will need only one TABC license to operate. By law, TABC must also establish a single state fee for each license. Although this will consolidate some licenses and fees into a single permit, it also affects permit fees. Fortunately, for most permittees, those fee adjustments are minor, but for non-resident sellers of distilled spirits the fee will triple from $676 biennially to $2,100.
TABC has scheduled a public meeting for Tuesday, Aug. 3 at 10:30 am CT. If you are a non-resident seller permittee in Texas and wish to provide input you can learn more here.
This winter, ACSA’s annual CRAFT SPIRITS Yearbook will include a buyer’s guide listing all of the suppliers to the craft spirits industry. We want all suppliers to the craft spirits industry to be a part of this printed publication. If you haven’t already, please complete this form to be included in this free listing.
If you are interested in purchasing an enhanced, premium listing with greater visibility, please contact Ashley Guillermo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q&A with Mitch Codd of Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits
A global leader in the development, production and marketing of yeast, bacteria and specialty ingredients, Lallemand has been in the yeast business for over a century. While it started with bakers’ yeast, Lallemand soon began working in other industries, including distilled spirits, brewing, oenology, coffee and cocoa, dairy cultures, probiotics and many more revolving around microbiology. Recently, Lallemand has re-doubled its efforts in tailored yeast strain development, utilizing its large capacity for research and development and laboratory facilities to really focus on distilled spirits and, namely, craft spirits. To learn more about Lallemand Biofuels & Distilled Spirits, we recently checked in with Mitch Codd, Technical Sales Manager, USA Craft Distilling.
Does yeast get enough credit in the production of distilled spirits?
I think the answer is yes and no. Visit the “about” page on the websites of 10 of your favorite distilleries. Almost certainly several of them mention their “special strain of yeast” used to make their unique product. It is recognized as a way to be distinct or produce a spirit unlike any other: to be the best, you need the best inputs. This is also the reason we produce proprietary strains for so many distilleries around the world. They have fully recognized the impacts a certain strain of yeast has on their product and are willing to emphasize that.
However, the flip side of that is also true. I work with hundreds of distilleries intimately on their process and I know that a lot of distillers do not give the yeast strains, or fermentation as a whole, enough credit. The yeast don’t just produce the ethanol that you are looking to concentrate in distillation. They produce a complex array of flavor molecules, aldehydes, higher alcohols, fatty acid esters and innumerable precursors to aging/barreling reactions that are necessary for the spirit to be complex and flavorful. The fermentation step is what creates the artists’ palette of flavors to play with in distillation, the compounds that evolve in aging and barreling and the subtle flavors that set the top-shelf spirits apart from the rest. Despite what we want to think, the yeast are the ones we can thank for all of this work, the distiller just allows it to happen and refines the mixture to our liking through distillation, aging and blending. So, I will always believe the yeast deserves more credit than it gets. Praise the microbes!
What are a handful of the top yeast products you provide?
Personally, I have been having a lot of fun with two distinct types of spirits production lately. The rise of the American single malt as well as the American agave spirit recently have provided a really interesting space to explore, and with that the ability to get to know two of our new yeast strains better.
The American single malt category, which I would love to see recognized, is growing fast and innovation is at the heart of this. We have been using DistilaMax XP for this fermentation type, as well as for bourbons, and I am really fascinated by this strain. A high malt grain bill has wonderful subtleties to it naturally, but when this strain is used, the amount of fruit and floral notes and aromatic complexity created are wonderful. DistilaMax XP, as a unique yeast strain, is a flavor powerhouse for sure, but it is also a variant of the typical S. cerevisiae that we normally use. It is considered a diastaticus strain of yeast (etymology similar to “diastatic power” in malt), which means it produces its own form of Glucoamylase to break down starch. So, beyond the fact that it produces such amazing aromatic profiles, it also is genetically very unique and as such can get very nice yields!
The other category, agave spirits, has allowed me to play with another new strain of ours, a cachaça strain, called DistilaMax CN. This fermentation substrate, as I imagine a lot of your readers may know all too well, can be really difficult to perfect. It just doesn’t want to make it easy for you. We approach this fermentation in a fairly unique way, as far as protocols go, but also try to utilize a really robust yeast strain. DistilaMax CN seems to handle the stressors of this fermentation (zero nutrition, very low pH and other stress factors) very well, and it produces significantly more flavors compared to other yeast meant for this spirit type. I often hear it described as walking into a fruit juice factory. As soon as you open the distillery door, you’re surrounded by fruit notes and sweetness, and having been on site for several of these fermentations, I agree! It just goes back to the first question about giving yeast the proper amount of credit. I think, when you start working with the right strains, you will realize just how powerful they can be and how much credit they really deserve!
One more product I am really excited about, but isn’t a yeast, is DistilaBact LP. We have recently brought to market a bacteria for distilling purposes. This microbe is produced, dried, packaged and utilized just like a typical yeast strain would be. It is pitched right alongside a yeast strain in fermentation and creates a very controlled sour mashing process and the results have been fantastic. It has been really fascinating to see how the addition of a new microorganism can have such profound effects on congener development and create a more complex spirit in early aging stages.
What other products and services does Lallemand offer craft distillers?
We produce great yeast strains for specific substrates and spirit types, but we also host a whole suite of other products that aid in a successful fermentation. We have done a lot of great work in nutrition, such as DistilaVite HY, which cleaves proteins and forms amino peptides, a favorite nitrogen source of yeast. We also have recently brought to market a full line of enzymes to aid in efficient grain mashing, which comes with our knowledge and support to truly optimize this process with the distiller.
On that note, beyond physical products, we are incredibly proud of our technical knowledge and the support that we bring to the industry and our customers! The team I am a part of has experience working for and/or with the best distilleries around the world and it shows. Being able to bring that experience and knowledge to the craft scale and see the difference it can make is very gratifying. We know how temperature, nutrition, timing and other variables will affect our strains, but also the fermentation as a whole and how those things can ultimately affect the profile of the spirit, and that can be quite powerful.
What can you tell us about The Alcohol School and the Ethanol Technology Institute? Who is the ideal attendee?
For over 40 years now, the Alcohol School has been a venue where we can share this knowledge and experience with a broad audience. I like to describe it as a crash course in everything you need to know in alcohol production, at a university level, with great networking and community development opportunities. It is several days of lectures and hands-on experiences, as well as tours to various distilleries and production sites. We usually have one in Montreal every year, but have recently been adding several other, great destination sites with a regional focus, such as 2019’s Dominican Republic Alcohol School with a focus on rum production.
Honestly, the ideal candidate is anyone who wants to get serious about their craft. We have the leaders of the biggest global spirits producers sharing dinner and drinks with some of the smallest craft producers every year, and that’s what makes it a truly special networking experience. The amount you learn from the speakers is complemented greatly by what you will learn from each other during these networking opportunities, and these relationships will last for years to come.
The institute also publishes The Alcohol Textbook. Why should it be on craft distillers’ bookshelves?
The Alcohol textbook goes hand-in-hand with the Alcohol School and was originally a “notes”-style spin off of this event. This is the equivalent of a high-level university textbook in depth of information covered. We are now in its sixth edition and its subsequent five editions have expanded to cover every conceivable facet of distilled spirits and ethanol production and has grown from 100 pages to 602 in the current, all new, edition. This book allows for a similar approach to an in-depth education as the Alcohol School, at home. If you are looking for an all-encompassing reference for this industry, and a few peripheral industries, this is, hands down, the textbook!
Lallemand is presenting three sessions at ACSA’s Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show this December—can you give us a quick preview of what people can expect?
This is going to be a great event. Myself, as well as my two colleagues Annick Mercier and Dick Barba, will be doing a combined, block talk at the convention. We believe that our customers took on a much deeper appreciation for being financially efficient this past year and I think the lineup of talks for the convention mirrors that idea. One major area of focus with our customers has been on getting the most out of your inputs. That grain that goes into your mash has a finite, quantifiable amount of starch in it and that can produce a certain amount of ethanol.
We will be exploring several areas of the production chain and how we can best optimize these processes, biologically and chemically, to get you the most spirit out of your inputs. While looking at these optimization methods, we will also be investigating similar approaches that may help improve our aromatic profiles at the same time, without deviating from the original character of your spirit. I guarantee this is an area worth exploring and taking seriously, as the results can be staggering on the bottom line, all while improving the quality of your spirit!
What: Plainly put, insurance for your distillery is a tool to help keep you in business. Learn the language of insurance and become a smarter shopper. Experienced industry insiders describe what to look for in a business operations package—property, liability, workers’ compensation, and possibly auto. Learn about important options, like equipment breakdown, product recall, employee theft and cyber protection.
Who: Peter Whalen (Whalen Insurance) and Shane Crockett (Markel Specialty Commercial)
What: Learn (or refresh your knowledge of) the science behind fermentation. This session will cover fermentation basics, as well as techniques to optimize your fermentation process. It will also cover considerations for rum fermentation.
Who: Kevin Kawa (AB Biotek)
How much: Free to ACSA members; $59 for non-members
What: It might be a tank or a silo, but if you can stick your head in it, you are likely dealing with an OSHA-regulated confined space. Find out what defines a confined space, the common inherent hazards, and effective means of staying safe. Learn what vessels can be entered and under what circumstances. Emphasis is on low-cost solutions like documenting allowable work activities, labeling spaces, and importantly, knowing what spaces to never enter.
Be sure your co-workers are set up as sub-accounts so they can also take advantage of online member benefits, including complimentary webinars. If you need assistance, email email@example.com.
Follow us on Instagram for Craft Spirits Live
Join ACSA for Craft Spirits Live, our Instagram Live show highlighting producers of craft spirits.
August 25th: Travis Goodman and Chas Marsh, Jackson Hole Still Works
September 8th: Christine Riggleman, Silverback Distillery
The earliest known distilleries in New Jersey go back to the 1600s, but despite that spirited history, the current industry is small and in its craft infancy stage, owners say. But there is potential for widespread greatness again.
The Garden State, as it is known, has lagged behind neighboring states like Pennsylvania and New York when it comes to craft spirits production, with laws only being passed in 2013 that allowed small entrepreneurs to do business. Spirits lag behind both breweries and wineries in numbers and recognition. Currently there are about two dozen distilleries operating in the state.
“People say we are sassy and driven, fair-minded and scrappy,” says Ray Disch of Sourland Mountain Spirits in Hopewell. “People like scrappy.”
The latest issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine is here! In our cover story, we profile craft liqueur producers who are tuning in to the evolving tastes of consumers. This issue also includes stories on sustainability, light whiskey and much more!
Want to get your products and services noticed? Be a part of upcoming issues of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine, the all-digital, bi-monthly publication of the American Craft Spirits Association! Check out our 2021 media kit to see what’s in store.