The Monthly Mash: Sept. 2019 Part I

The Monthly Mash
Volume 4.09
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:

Fall has arrived and with it comes lots of ACSA activity. Help guide our efforts by responding TODAY to our poll on TTB’s notice of proposed rulemaking to Standards of Fill.

Have you been on the ACSA homepage recently? Did you notice the ticking timeline for the expiration of the FET relief? Fortunately, key Congressional folks shared some of their optimism this past week. You’ll want to get caught up on what’s happening with the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act.

There are some events that bring consistent excitement. Encouraged by the number of new, innovative products being entered into our Judging of Craft Spirits Competition, I feel good about where our industry is headed. Take a peek at this year’s competition, taking place at Cardinal Spirits in Indiana.

Another promising area is ACSA’s education. Our safety program, customized for the craft distiller, is taking place at Garrison Brothers Distillery in Texas. Or, if you prefer to stay home, how about registering for one of our webinars on cocktail menus or the state of brandy?

Our registration for ACSA convention host hotel is now available. I’m a softie for “new” and the Hyatt Regency Portland fits that bill: We will be one of the first groups to grace its lobby (and use its sleeping rooms) in March 2020!

A farmer by natural instinct, I adore the Garden State. See how New Jersey’s distilling community is rapidly growing.

Our editorial team is finalizing the next issue of Craft Spirits magazine. Do you have news you’d like to share?

We’re not too busy to thank you for your loyalty and support. We are so proud to serve the craft spirits community.



What’s Happening With FET Relief?

Unless you are living under a rock, you are aware that the reduction in the Federal Excise Tax (FET) is due to expire at the end of this year. Yes: that gives us just over 3 months to do something before the rate returns to $13.50 per proof gallon. Will it?

Not if we can help it.

Legislation to make permanent the FET reduction (Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act) continues to gain support in the Senate and House. Additionally, ACSA is aggressively working the top leaders of Congress to get this on the agenda for the fall.

H.R.1175 now has 288 co-sponsors. This is just shy of two-thirds of the U.S. House, which is 290. Most bills don’t have that kind of bipartisan support, so we are bolstered by our progress. In the Senate, there are now 71 Senators on S.362. It takes 60 votes to break a filibuster in the Senate, thus, there is no question that our provision enjoys incredibly broad support in both chambers.

Additionally, the House Ways and Means Committee in late June reported a bill (along with a number of other tax extenders) to continue our FET reduction until the end of 2020. However, this bill has yet to go to the full House for a vote, so it is NOT a done deal.

It is widely believed that we will have the FET relief extended for one or two years, as part of a larger bill dealing with tax provisions that need to be extended. Our bill is not the only one Congress is tackling. Congressional leaders must make a decision this fall to “attach” this to other larger spending measures that keep the government open and funded.

In just the past two weeks, ACSA has met twice with House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA). We have met with our key Senate GOP sponsor, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Senator Corey Gardner (R-CO), another key supporter. All are optimistic that our FET relief can get extended. Each directed us to keep up the pressure on the Congress as a whole. We will continue to do so.

What’s up ahead?

A second ACSA national call-in day will take place in October. We are working with our industry “cousins” to select the same day to make the most impact, so stay tuned. Congressional offices will hear from each beverage category: spirits, wine, beer and cider. Suppliers also will help us overload the cell towers, with our collective voices reaching Capitol Hill. We will be noticed. Our voices will be heard.

Also, ACSA will continue to meet with top Congressional leaders. However, we strongly urge all of our Association members to seek meetings back in the U.S. House member’s district or Senate district offices. Finally, we also strongly encourage members to support the ACSA PAC. Click here to learn more.

We will not rest until we make this a permanent part of the tax code.   

Should TTB Eliminate Standard of Fill Requirements? LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK TODAY

TTB is proposing to eliminate the existing standards of fill for distilled spirits, allowing spirits to be sold in any quantity between a minimum standard of 50 milliliters and a maximum standard of 3.785 liters.

ACSA is determining whether we will submit comments on behalf of craft spirits producers. Before a decision is reached, ACSA wants to know what YOU think before we act. Please complete the short three-question survey below and respond today, September 27th. It should take only a few minutes to complete, unless you wish to review the complete Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, linked above for your reference.

TTB Proposal –


A minimum container size is needed to insure sufficient space on that container for required labeling. A maximum container size is needed to maintain the distinction between bottled and bulk products.


Eliminating the current standards of fill would open up the market and allow you, as the producer, a wider variety of options, and would “eliminate restrictions on competition and the movement of goods in domestic and international commerce.” For those who export or plan to export, the allowance to use packages excepted both internationally and domestically relieves the producer of the burden of excessive inventory stocks. 


There are concerns that eliminating the standards and opening up the market to such a wide variety of sizes and options will cause confusion to the consumer about price comparisons, increase competition from international spirits, and create chaos for warehousing inventories and shelf-space/placements.

Time Is Running Out: Enter Your Spirits in the 7th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits

Regular Pricing Expires Oct. 4

Are your spirits worthy of gold? It’s not too late to enter them in ACSA’s 7th Annual Judging of Craft Spirits competition. However, regular pricing expires on Oct. 4, so click here to register now! After Oct. 4, the price to register each spirit increases by $25 per spirit, and the last day to register is Oct. 18.

In addition to recognizing the best craft spirits in the categories of Vodka/Grain, Gin, Brandy, Rum, Whiskey, and Specialty Spirits, we are also thrilled to announce that we are now accepting international spirits and ready-to-drink cocktails.

Meet Some of Our Judges

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. Here’s a look at several of our esteemed judges.
Ashley Barnes is the co-founder and director of quality and blending for The Spirits Group, where she specializes in flavor profile projections, blending, product development and quality control. Working in the craft industry has nourished a deeper understanding of how to utilize years of knowledge from heritage distilleries to help create consistent and award-winning whiskey. Barnes was previously the assistant quality control manager for Four Roses Distillery, where she performed flavor profiling, formulation and blending. She also counts on experience at Buffalo Trace Distillery, and she received a B.S. in biology with a minor in chemistry from Eastern Kentucky University.
Andie Ferman has been an active member of our American craft spirits community for over 13 years. Passionate about building small craft brands and spreading the gospel that is true American spirit! From managing a tasting room, to crafting a successful tour program, to actively participating in spirits- and cocktail-driven conventions across the United States, and through leading educational and thought-provoking seminars, Ferman has kept her finger on the pulse of our industry. She is proud to be a member of our Craft Spirits community and is looking forward to many more years of supporting this American Craft movement.
Paul Hughes gained bachelor and PhD degrees in chemistry before joining the United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive in 1988. In 1990, Hughes moved to the Brewing Research Foundation where he worked on a range of research projects, including the sensory and foaming properties of hop acids and LOX control in malts and malting. In 1999, Hughes moved to Heineken as principal scientist. He was responsible for a number of projects and aspects of product safety and integrity. In 2005, he assumed the position of Professor of Brewing at Heriot-Watt University before assuming the role of Director of the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling in 2006, and Director of Research for Life Sciences in 2008. In 2014, Hughes established a publishing company and consultancy before moving to the U.S. to take up the position of Professor of Distilling at Oregon State University where he leads the development of a new distilling program. Hughes holds an MBA and the IBD Brewing Diploma. He is author of more than 70 research papers, four patents and is co-author of two text-books, on beer quality and whisky. He is a frequent speaker at international conferences and runs international courses, principally focused on beer and spirits.
Matt Pietrek is recognized as one of the premier spirits and drinks writers. His technical background and ability to simplify complex topics takes his readers on deep dives not found anywhere else. He writes for multiple publications, plus his own site, Cocktail Wonk, which has been nominated for several writing awards. He and his wife Carrie are the authors of “Minimalist Tiki: A Cocktail Wonk Look at Classic Libations and the Modern Tiki Vanguard.” Find him at and on Instagram @cocktailwonk.

Register Your Spirits Today to Take Advantage of Regular Pricing

ACSA Members
Regular Pricing (9/3/19 to 10/4/19): $250 per spirit

Late Riser (10/5/19 to 10/18/19): $275 per spirit


Regular Pricing (9/3/19 to 10/4/19): $350 per spirit

Late Riser (10/5/19 to 10/18/19): $375 per spirit

Registration Deadline: Oct. 18, 2019

Receiving Deadline: Oct. 23, 2019

On Location: ACSA’s 2019 Safety Series

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

Register Now for the 7th Annual ACSA Convention in Portland

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!

Exhibitors: Click Here to Register

Exhibitor Early Bird Rates (Until Nov. 30th)
10×10 (single booth) – $1,900 (includes 2 booth attendees)
10×20 (double booth) – $3,300 (includes 4 booth attendees)
Additional Booth Attendees – $500 per person

Exhibitor Regular Rate (After Nov. 30th)

10×10 (single booth) – $2,099 (includes 2 booth attendees)
10×20 (double booth) – $3,450 (includes 4 booth attendees)
Additional Booth Attendees – $500 per person

Attendees: Click Here to Register

Attendee Early Bird Rates (Until Oct. 31st)
Members – $595; Additional Members – $395
Non Members – $795; Additional Non Members – $595

Attendee Regular Rate (After Oct. 31st)

Members – $625; Additional Members – $425
Non Members – $825; Additional Non Members – $625

Not a member of the ACSA? Sign up now and attend the convention at the reduced rate.

Book Your Stay at Our Brand New Host Hotel

Looking for a place to stay when you Journey to Craftlandia? Our brand new host hotel, the Hyatt Regency Portland, is steps away from the Oregon Convention Center, and you can secure a discounted rate. The room rate is only $174 per night and the room block will be open until March 6th, 2020 or until it sells out, so make your reservations now.

Save the Date: Join Us in Louisville in 2021!


WHEN: Feb. 28, March 1, March 2, 2021
WHERE: Kentucky International Convention Center
HOST HOTEL: The Galt House

Coming Soon: The Second Issue

of Craft Spirits Magazine

The second issue of Craft Spirits magazine will go live in October. Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect in our brandy issue.

Cover Story: The Evolution of the U.S. Brandy Market

We do a deep dive into the state of the American brandy market, one of the fastest-growing craft spirits categories, and get insights from both its pioneers and up-and-comers.

Feature Stories

Member Profiles: Showcasing innovative brandy distillers
A Distilling Pioneer
A profile of Jörg Rupf, the founder of St. George Spirits, who began making eau de vie in California before many Americans had ever heard of it.

Turn and Face the Strange: Stateside Interpretations of Obscure World Brandies

Eastern Europe in particular is known for its eclectic brandy traditions. How are U.S. producers adapting them for American palates?

Unsung French Classics: Calvados and Armagnac

Cognac gets most of the attention, but Calvados and Armagnac producers are making a big push in international markets.

Northern Exposure: Canadian Brandy

When most think of Canada, they think whisky, but renowned Canadian distilling writer and expert Davin de Kergommeaux will explore our northern neighbor’s brandy-making industry.

Distilling Destinations: Iowa and Wisconsin
Exploring distilleries in the Hawkeye State and the Badger State.

Technically Speaking: Wood’s Influence on Fruit Distillates
How do fruit and grain distillates behave differently in the barrel?

Distribution: Distributor Contracts

We look at the key components a distribution contract must have to ensure a mutually beneficial long-term relationship.

Packaging: Innovations in Label Design

We explore the art of the bottle label

On-Premise Retail

Menu Design
How to strike a balance on the drinks menu between cocktails and neat pours and educate the consumer on everything that goes into them
Off-Premise Retail
Taste-Makers: The Art of Off-Premise Sampling
How to run an in-store tasting (where legal)
Plus, a look at new spirits, news from around the distilling industry, cocktail recipes from ACSA members and a column by Lew Bryson.

Share Your Story With Craft Spirits Magazine

Do you have exciting stories to share about your distillery? We’re on the lookout for news for future issues of Craft Spirits Magazine.
Keep us posted on new products, events, trends, tips and more by sending us a note at

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

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