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 Community:
Entering my neighborhood recently, I passed a sign I must have seen a thousand times: “Residents and guests only.” A similar sign was posted at our boat marina: “Entrance limited to slip holders and guests.” Bottom line—you’re either “IN” or “OUT.” In other words, IF you don’t have a connection, don’t even bother thinking of, well … connecting to these communities.
Reflecting on ACSA’s community, what message do we send? Do you feel included and a part of our larger craft spirits family? Do our words, programs, policies and services provide a sense that we are there to support your small business? Do we adequately convey that you’re not alone in trying to succeed? Do our suppliers understand their value to our industry? Do you believe we’re as passionate about helping you prosper, as you are trying to make it?
If not, we’ve got our work cut out for us.
That is precisely why ACSA staff, and then later the Board of Directors, will hold a retreat to make certain we’re on target to offer you and the industry the tools, techniques, and motivation to continue through these hard times enveloped in ambiguity. That is also why you’ll soon receive a membership survey to give us your feedback—how are we doing?
And it’s also why we continue to forge ahead with our recently launched Diversity Internship Program through the Spirits Training Entrepreneurship Program for Underrepresented Professionals (STEPUP) Foundation. ACSA created the program because we recognize a lack of diversity in the alcoholic beverage sector, and we’re happy to announce that we have established a Board of Directors to guide us in promoting diversity and inclusion for those of different races, genders, disabilities and sexual orientations who are eager to work in the craft spirits sector. Stay tuned for more updates on this important initiative.
Belonging to something bigger than ourselves, particularly now when we might feel intense isolation from the life we once knew, is critical. Keeping relationships alive, fresh and invigorated is key.
Let us help.
Get educated on what the elections mean for FET; register for our spirits packaging program to set your brand(s) apart from the competition; check out our upcoming webinar on burnout (free for all members); follow what happened at Global Bar Week where a handful of your colleagues “traveled” the miles to participate; be introduced to one of ACSA’s newest board members; mark your calendar and participate in upcoming Craft Spirits Live; get connected through social media; and learn from two industry experts on the role of PR and the importance of location for your distillery.
If ACSA posted a sign at the entrance to our community it would read: “Welcome; We’re Glad You’re Here!”
Be well, be kind, and stay safe,
P.S. Please don’t forget to exercise your civic duty and vote!
The Election’s Impact on FET Relief
The election is now just days away.
The Presidential election is very close and the outcome may not be decided until days or possibly weeks after the election since it is based on electoral votes in key states. Florida, Ohio, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin will hold the key to the election.
It is highly likely the House will remain in Democratic hands and Nancy Pelosi would continue as Speaker of the House. It is possible for the GOP to pick up a number of seats, but most experts think a majority is not attainable for Republicans.
The Senate is also up for grabs. There are 10 Senate races being closely watched on election night. Republicans now have a 53-47 edge. They could pick up a seat in Alabama, which would mean Democrats need five seats to gain a majority, but perhaps four to achieve a tie. Both Senate leaders, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are very active supporters of our craft beverage bill.
Whatever happens, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), author of S. 362 (the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act), will remain a key player in the Senate, either as Chairman of Senate Finance (the tax writing Committee) or top Democrat. The new top Republican on Senate Finance will be Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID). Sen. Crapo is not a co-sponsor of the craft beverage bill.
What does this mean for craft spirits and a lower federal excise tax (FET)?
A Biden presidency will certainly mean a major tax bill in 2021. ACSA is hopeful that this could be a vehicle to make permanent the Craft Beverage bill.
A Trump presidency likely means more status quo. Even though he may push for more tax relief, Democrats in the House would resist and demand major changes to the tax code, but small common ground might be found.
Either person serving as President will likely move a major COVID-19 stimulus bill either in the lame duck session or in the new Congress, which will get seated in early January, before the Presidential Inauguration.
Whatever the results on Tuesday, ACSA and our distilling community have a collective challenge to get the lower FET made permanent or extended before the end of 2020.
We realize that many craft spirits producers put just as much thought into what’s ontheir bottles and cans as what’s in the bottles and cans. To help celebrate the best in craft spirits labels and packaging, the American Craft Spirits Association and CRAFT SPIRITS magazine are proud to present the Craft Spirits Packaging Awards. The winners will be featured in the January issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine, with the winner of Best in Show gracing the cover.
Deadline for entry is Nov. 13, 2020.
The competition is open to all producers of craft spirits. No physical samples are required for entry (some winning entries may be asked to ship samples for photography).
Packaging companies and/or designers may enter on behalf of craft spirits producers. Awards will be given to the distillery and credit will be given to the company/designer in CRAFT SPIRITS magazine.
A panel of design experts will judge labels and packaging 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.)
Readers’ Choice Award (Judged by CRAFT SPIRITS magazine readers)
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.
Cost for ACSA Members: $40 per entry; $100 per portfolio entry
Cost for Non-Members: $55 per entry; $140 per portfolio entry
COMING SOON: 2021 JUDGING OF CRAFT SPIRITS CALL FOR ENTRIES
ACSA’s Judging of Craft Spirits competition is alive and well! But, like everything this year, it will be reimagined to ensure the safety of our events staff and judges. Stay tuned, as registration will open soon.
ACSA Participates in Global Bar Week
Earlier this month ACSA, along with seven member distilleries, participated in BCB Brooklyn’s first ever Global Bar Week. Originally slated to take place in June at the Brooklyn Expo Center, the organizers pivoted to a virtual experience. Bar Convent Brooklyn united with Bar Convent Berlin, BCB São Paulo, and Imbibe Live for an entire week to create a global show. More than 200 exhibitors and over 6,800 attendees from 77 countries were able to connect through virtual showrooms and learn during the education sessions.
Thanks to the following distilleries for joining: Backwards Distilling Co., Cardinal Spirits, Corsair Distillery, Distillery 291, Garrison Brothers Distillery, Round Turn Distilling and Wiggly Bridge Distillery.
ACSA’s 2021 Distillers’ Convention & Vendor Trade Show is scheduled for July 25-27 at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Kentucky. We hope you can join us as we return to in-person events! Attendee and exhibitor registration will open soon, so watch this space!
Q&A: Jessica Lemmon of Cart/Horse Distilling
Jessica Lemmon is an owner and distiller for Edinboro, Pennsylvania-based Cart/Horse Distilling, which she founded in 2016 with her husband John Fetzner. Lemmon was recently elected to ACSA’s Board of Directors, so we checked in with her to discuss upcoming initiatives for ACSA and her distillery.
ACSA: As a newly elected board member, what are your top priorities for the coming year?
Jessica Lemmon: Given the current state of affairs, I think keeping up with the federal excise tax (FET) reduction and any possible funding for COVID relief is extremely important this year. I was extremely impressed how the ACSA board rallied when it came to the hand sanitizer situation and shutdowns, and keeping everyone legal and educated in swiftly changing environments. Between fire drills, my focus is also on the Safety Committee and getting involved in crafting information for both large and small distillers when it comes to best practices for their facilities.
Distilling is in your blood, right? Tell us about your family’s distilling roots.
Nothing like starting with the punchline! It’s true, alcohol is in my blood. When we first came to the idea of starting a distillery, it was inspired by the way so many of the big brands in Kentucky evolved from family farms. In my family the history always revolved around our farm, as it’s been passed down for over a century now. Each generation made their mark on it in a different way. What we didn’t know was that wasn’t the only family business back in the day! When my husband and I decided to float our grand idea of an estate distillery to my parents, there was a big pause. “Well … I suppose we should tell you …” Turns out my other great-grandfather was a Prohibition-era moonshiner, best known for selling his high quality applejack to the revenuers when they came up to go fishing on the lake. When my parents inherited his house, they found the pot and hat stashed in different parts of the basement, original creosote from wood firing it and all. He would make cider at his mill in the “gully” and stash the bottles down in the creek until the drop was made … allegedly! He probably never imagined that his great-granddaughter would strike out to start the first LEGAL distillery in the county!
Tell us a little more about Cart/Horse. How did the name come about, and what are a few general things you want people to know about the distillery?
Cart/Horse came to be out of the desire to control our own destiny and be our own bosses while reviving the century farm. We both have diverse skill sets that wrap in wonderfully in all aspects of the craft. Our shop is a true mom-and-pop business at this point. My husband likes to joke that we make progress through “brute strength and ignorance.” In the early days, that wasn’t too far from the truth. We bootstrapped our facility and built out equipment as we went, with a lot of upcycling, creative problem solving and sweat equity. Since we were unable to do the full-fledged estate distillery, we instead partnered with the local farmers—many of which have done business with my family for generations. The majority of our grain comes right off of the local fields and directly to our distillery. Specialty items such as malt still come from our immediate region inside Pennsylvania. Everything we produce is made in our facility from start to finish in small batches, hand-bottled, labeled and direct distributed.
What are your best-selling spirits and/or the ones you’re most passionate about? Any new releases on the horizon?
It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for botanical blends. I have the most fun concocting herbal creations, both new- and old-style. Our best-selling spirit to date is our Root Digger, a traditional style root beer liqueur. Before distilling was even an idea, we would go out in the early spring and dig the roots for our favorite ‘spring tonic.’ As the distillery evolved, I adapted the recipe and brought it in as a feature—soon people were lovingly threatening to steal it right off of the bar. That’s when it became pretty clear that we should put it into real production. Since then, we’ve racked up a couple of awards for our effort and now we get to hear stories about how it’s become part of our customers’ family traditions. We will soon be releasing a new whole spice endeavor—maple spiced rum, with maple from a local farm right around the corner from us. Originally it was slated for a 2020 spring release, but better late than never!
You’re also a registered architect. How does that background benefit you as a distiller? And are you still actively working on other non-distillery projects?
Architecture is a great gateway to being a jack of all trades. On the business side, I was able to do our own design and modifications as we needed them. It gives me a good basis for Life Safety and building codes, along with process flow layouts. The blend of art and science exists strongly in both architecture and distilling, and I love having a foot in both worlds. I’m a creator at heart and I love making things with my hands, but I also love solving complex problems. (Within reason!) I’ve always got something brewing when it comes to projects, literally and figuratively.
Any additional advice or words of wisdom for your peers in the distilling community as we continue to navigate life during the pandemic?
Be pushy but patient as things evolve. Learning how to look after ourselves and each other is a huge lesson to take away from this pandemic. Many of us have had to navigate situations we’ve never dreamed of, and we’ve come out wiser and stronger from it. Changing business strategies on the fly, learning how to work or educate from home when life demands it, managing new rules and regulations for months on end has many of us showing more perseverance than we even realize. To quote Red Green, “Remember, I’m pulling for you. We’re all in this together.”
Follow us on Instagram for Craft Spirits Live
Join ACSA for Craft Spirits Live, our new Instagram Live show. In each episode, a leading craft spirits producer invites us into their distillery for 30 minutes of engaging conversation and a virtual tour—as well as an opportunity to answer all of your burning questions.
November 4th: Blake Jones, West Fork Whiskey Co.
November 11th: Nathan Newhall, Steamboat Whiskey Co.
What: Individuals are burning out at an alarming rate. People feel the constant demand to deliver, so they’re either burning out or they’re leaving their professions altogether, due to high stress and burnout. During this talk, you will learn about the best techniques you can use to immediately reduce stress and burnout you’re facing in your organization, and within yourself! You’ll learn key takeaways on what burnout is, so you can quickly identify it in your life. Next you’ll learn how people become burned out. Finally, you’ll learn how to get out of burnout, once and for all. You will leave with actionable steps that can be immediately used, to transform from a burned-out life, to an ideal life.
In this session, you will learn:
How to recognize burnout signs within your teams and yourself, so you can understand who in your organization is struggling with burnout
How to recognize how you became burned out in the first place
How to implement immediate steps you can take today, to stop the burnout from growing
How to transform your future with burnout prevention techniques that go beyond taking a 2-week vacation
How to establish boundaries in your life, so that you can fend off potential burnout from external factors
Who: Michael Levitt is the CEO and founder of Breakfast Leadership, Inc, and works with leaders to reduce stress and prevent burnout, so that they can focus on what REALLY matters most
Cost: Complimentary to ACSA members, $59 for non-members
DOT-PHMSA to Archive Webinar on Hazardous Materials Regulations
The Department of Transportation – Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (DOT-PHMSA) recently hosted informational webinars to assist with transitioning to full compliance with the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) once the Temporary Policy for the Transportation of Certain Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Products expires tomorrow, October 31, 2020. The webinars covered key HMR transportation topics for hand sanitizer products as well as important information on how to obtain training. In case you missed it, DOT-PHMSA is in the process of archiving the webinar and we will share the link as soon as it is available.
Access Our Archive of Complimentary COVID-19 Webinars
In case you missed them, all of our COVID-19 webinars are complimentary and available to download. Please note that some of the webinars may have some suggestions that are outdated as the guidance around hand sanitizer has rapidly changed. Please review the newest FDA and TTB guidance to ensure you are following the prescribed protocol.
In case you missed it, the latest issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine includes a cover story on how craft distillers are pushing the boundaries of gin, tips for packaging during these challenging times and a feature story on gracefully making the leap from sourcing to distilling. In our next issue, coming soon, we explore sustainability in rum, distillers serving in public office, the craft spirits scene in Washington, D.C. and much more!
Completely Relatable: PR Strategies in Pandemic Times and Beyond
Gather PR’s Alexandra Clough is a seasoned public relations professional who specializes in beverage brand building and serves as strategic communications advisor for ACSA. Here, she offers her insight on some of the most common questions and addresses some of the misconceptions about the role of PR in your business. In a year that’s been anything but normal, it’s more critical than ever to adopt a dynamic PR strategy.
One of the first important decisions you’re likely to make as a distiller is selecting the ideal site for your distillery—and, therefore, it’s not one to be taken lightly. We reached out to some experts on the subject, Dalkita Architecture & Construction, to offer some critical insights on the process. Director of marketing and operations Colleen Moore was kind enough to let us pick her brain, as was principal architect Scott Moore, who chimes in toward the end.
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.