ACSA’s 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 the Craft Spirits Community:
As I’m writing this note, I learned that our U.S. Congress just passed a spending bill, hours short of a midnight deadline. Phew. Our elected representatives thwarted a government shutdown.
Fortunately, the ACSA Board of Directors operates a tad more nimbly and in advance of deadlines. Yesterday, the board refreshed and voted on its strategic plan which will aid ACSA in advancing initiatives over the course of the next five years. We will soon share that with our committees and volunteer leadership to develop key performance indicators, keeping us on track to continue to elevate and advocate on your behalf. Our thoughtful, visionary board arrived at a consensus as to ACSA’s priorities, namely: 1: Build and Support Membership; 2: Increase Diversity; 3: Improve Market Landscape; and 4: Develop Organizational Sustainability. Our resources will be devoted to measuring our success across those major areas.
Many of our projects already fit nicely into those realms. For instance, our upcoming applications and registrations demonstrate our commitment to diversity (STEPUP); steps to improve market landscape (if you haven’t yet completed the Craft Spirits Data Project survey, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do so. This economic data allows us to plead your small business cases in front of Congressional bodies); and efforts to develop organizational sustainability (the Craft Spirits Packaging Awards competition can both help you distinguish your brand AND provides some additional funding to ACSA). Of course, in everything we do, from our public policy conference (a big shout out to those who joined us) to submitting comments to TTB or meeting with the Food and Drug Administration to get to the bottom of recent audits, we hope to provide value, so you’ll want to join us as a member.
We are so proud of our many Cask and Single Barrel Sponsors as you continue to exemplify positive energy and innovation within our industry. Harvest Hosts, this month’s featured Q&A, epitomizes creativity in a novel business. What a cool way to marry a segment of our consumers with your distilleries. If you don’t know about their services, continue reading!
While we are living a part of history which presents multiple challenges, I am confident that we can accomplish the priorities of ACSA’s strategic plan in years to come. This is a prime example, however, of not going it alone. We will continue to count on our wonderful volunteers, both at the DSP and supplier level, and our community of members. We need you now more than ever.
Here’s to continuing our journey to enhance your opportunities to succeed in your businesses,
AT A GLANCE: UPCOMING EVENTS & DEADLINES
1: Applications close for interns, host distilleries, mentors and wholesalers for the STEPUP Foundation
10-12: 10th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show
Save the date for our 10th annual convention in Portland, Oregon!
PUBLIC POLICY CONFERENCE
America’s Spirits Producers Return (Virtually) to Capitol Hill to Advocate for Top Federal Priorities
This month, more than 200 distillers from nearly every U.S. state connected virtually with federal lawmakers and regulators during the spirits industry’s annual Public Policy Conference, jointly hosted by the American Craft Spirits Association and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS).“This is the opportunity to share the importance of your business, how you matter in the communities in which you live, and highlight the jobs you create,” said ACSA CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman at the start of the Public Policy Conference, noting that those jobs go well beyond the spirits industry itself and into allied industries like agriculture and hospitality.
Throughout the course of more than 120 virtual meetings with lawmakers, craft spirits producers addressed issues important to the distilled spirits sector, including two major priorities:
The Distilled Spirits Industry’s Positive Economic Impact: Participants in the virtual Capitol Hill climb highlighted the benefits that spirits producers provide for the U.S. economy. The more than 2,300 distilleries nationwide contribute to the vibrancy of the manufacturing, hospitality, tourism and agriculture industries. The economic activities of exporting, importing, and sale and distribution within the U.S. support about 1.7 million jobs. U.S. distilled spirits exports alone totaled $1.6 billion last year and distillers paid nearly $6.9 billion in FET.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) Shipping Equity Act (H.R. 3287/S. 1663): If passed, the bill would enable the USPS to ship beverage alcohol products where direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipping is permissible by law. DtC shipping serves as an important complement to the traditional three-tier system of beverage alcohol distribution and providing the DtC option through the Postal Service, where allowed, supports consumer choice and small distilleries. The bill also provides for regulations that will allow USPS to safely deliver beverage alcohol to adult consumers with the appropriate ID checks and verifications in place to prevent underage access. Additionally, enacting the USPS Shipping Equity Act could generate an estimated $190 million annually for the USPS.
During the conference, attendees also:
Heard messages from Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), the lead House Republican Sponsor of the USPS Shipping Equity Act, and Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), a co-sponsor of Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act and last year’s American Rescue Plan.
Had the opportunity to get some clarity on the regulatory side of the federal government, thanks to a panel (moderated by Alex Castle, master distiller and senior vice president of Old Dominick Distillery) of officials from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
Gathered virtually for a final toast with some special guests. Shannon Mustipher, author of “Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails,” winner of the Tales of the Cocktail Pioneer Award and inductee into the Dame Hall of Fame, led the evening’s toast. ACSA and DISCUS also presented World Central Kitchen (WCK), founded in 2010 by chef José Andrés, with the inaugural Humanitarian Spirit Award for its work on the frontlines providing meals in response to humanitarian, climate and community crises. Karen Peraza, WCK’s manager of corporate and foundation relations, accepted on behalf of the organization.
ACSA and DISCUS would like to thank the following sponsors, whose generous support helped make the Public Policy Conference a success.
ACTION AND ADVOCACY
Craft Spirits Data Project: Please Take This Important Survey
The Craft Spirits Data Project is the chief economic data study for craft spirits producers, but we cannot do it without you. Along with our hand-picked partner, Park Street, we urgently need your feedback. Your input helps us tell legislators and media about the growth of the craft spirits industry and how your small businesses contribute to the economy.The deadline to complete the survey has been extended to Oct. 21. Please complete it as soon as possible to provide the data on what happened to the craft spirits industry in 2021. All data collected will be treated confidentially, with special care to only release information in the aggregate.
As a special thanks for completing the survey, each distillery that completes the survey will receive one free t-shirt at ACSA’s 10th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show in February.
Last Chance: STEPUP Foundation Accepting New Applications Until Oct. 1
The deadline for 2023 interns, mentors, DSPs and wholesalers to apply for STEPUP Foundation is Saturday, Oct. 1.STEPUP stands for Spirits Training Entrepreneurship Program for Underrepresented Professionals and its mission is to provide underserved and underrepresented individuals with hands-on training and education, encouragement, and opportunities to enter the spirits community through a comprehensive internship program like no other in the alcohol beverage industry.
STEPUP, working with distilleries and wholesalers throughout the United States, provides a comprehensive, hands-on training program with a living stipend and provides job exposure for those of different races, color, national origins, genders and sexual orientations.
If you or someone you know might be a good fit as an intern, mentor, host DSP or wholesale distributor, please apply here!
ACSA Members Support Proposed Addition of American Single Malt Whisky to TTB’s Standards of Identity
In response to a call for comments from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) on its proposal to add American Single Malt Whisky to the standards of identity for distilled spirits, ACSA CEO Margie A.S. Lehrman wrote that the association overwhelmingly supports the proposal.”We view this effort to add American Single Malt to the Standards of Identity as helpful to the community of craft spirits producers,” Lehrman wrote. “We recognize and fully support the efforts of the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission to listen and learn from its members, many of whom are also members of ACSA, to aid in shaping this added Standard of Identity. When surveyed, our members also overwhelmingly supported the addition of American Single Malt, as proposed by TTB, to the Standards of Identity.”
Guidance on FDA Hand Sanitizer Informational Requests
In early September, ACSA met with the Food and Drug Administration to discuss the issue of hand sanitizer audits. Previously, we had heard concerns that the FDA notified members about increased levels of acetaldehyde in hand sanitizer produced in 2020. Many members have already spent lots of time (and money) attempting to comply with the request. The FDA acknowledged that additional letters may be sent to producers of hand sanitizer. The FDA also confirmed that these letters are not audits but simply “informational requests.”If you produced hand sanitizer during the pandemic and registered your products with the FDA, deregister immediately if you have not already done so. (You are now considered a manufacturer of over-the-counter drugs and more likely to have your hand sanitizer examined. If you continue to produce hand sanitizer, you are considered a manufacturer and must comply with all applicable regulations as a drug manufacturer.)
If you have received or do receive an FDA informational request (while no legal obligation to respond, ACSA suggests that you do so) here is what you should do:
Provide the date you stopped manufacturing
Provide the total volume of hand sanitizer (number of gallons)
Although not required, if your label contained an expiration date, provide that date
If you have additional information, such as a certificate of analysis (COA), send that to the FDA, too
As ACSA will continue to advocate for distillers with FDA on the impact of these investigations, please let us know if you are impacted by such a request.
Earlier this week, ACSA hosted its quarterly state guilds roundtable via Zoom. After a welcome from ACSA state guilds committee co-chairs Gina Holman and P.T. Wood, guild leaders heard updates on state and national legislation from Michael Walker (state policy advisor) and Jim Hyland (public policy advisor). Guild leaders also shared recent news and updates from their states. If you’re curious to learn more, contact email@example.com.
Senate, House Pass Government Funding Resolution
On Thursday, the Senate voted 72-25 to pass and send to the House a continuing resolution that would extend current federal funding and keep the government open until Dec. 16. Craft distillers will recall the disruption at TTB during the last government shut down. Today, the House voted 230-201 to advance the legislation to President Biden.Among other provisions, the continuing resolution would reauthorize the Food and Drug Administration’s user fee programs, provide additional funding for Ukraine and front-load $18 billion for FEMA disaster assistance to deal with Hurricane Ian.
A proposal from Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) dealing with energy-permitting plans was dropped from the measure on Tuesday, speeding passage of the legislation.
Learn More About the ACSA PAC
ACSA’s public policy advocacy on behalf of its members is critical to making sure our community’s voice is heard on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures. A crucial piece of this strategy is a strong political action committee (PAC). ACSA created a PAC years ago to make sure the voice of our small businesses in an emerging industry is heard.To learn more, go to our website and log in to ACSA.
Upon changes in ownership control, distilleries must notify the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) within 30 days or face the consequence of a terminated permit.
That’s clearly stated on a distillery’s permit, and Steve Powers of TTB says the bureau is becoming more astute about the matter.
“If it goes beyond that 30 days,” says Powers, “if there’s been a change in control of the business, then the permit terminates by law.”
Powers says a change in control occurs when someone loses or gains 51% of a company. That could mean a change in an officer at a corporation or an official of an LLC. The key change for corporations is with Class A Voting Stocks and for LLCs it is Class A Common Units.
The preferred method for notification is via TTB’s online permitting account, and Powers says anyone with questions should contact TTB at 877-882-3277 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET.
“All anyone has to do is call us and ask what they need to do if there’s been a change,” he says. “We can guide them [on] what to do. We’re here to help.”
CRAFT SPIRITS PACKAGING AWARDS
Time is Running Out to Enter the Craft Spirits Packaging Awards!
Don’t miss your chance to earn recognition for the design of your craft spirits labels, bottles, cans and/or packaging. We could call you to the stage when we hand out medals for the Craft Spirits Packaging Awards at our 10th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show—but only if you enter today!
Produced by the American Craft Spirits Association and CRAFT SPIRITS magazine— and sponsored by the Glass Packaging Institute—the competition celebrates excellence and creativity in the design of craft spirits labels and packaging. In addition to claiming their awards at ACSA’s 10th Annual Distillers’ Convention and Vendor Trade Show in February, medalists will be featured in the March/April 2023 issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine
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.
The deadline to enter is Oct. 14.
A panel of design experts will judge labels and packaging in the following categories:
Vodka & Grain
Portfolio (Recognizing outstanding packaging across a range of three or more products. Must be entered separately from individual entries.)
Best in Show
Cost for ACSA Members: $40 per entry; $100 per portfolio entry
Cost for Non-members: $55 per entry; $140 per portfolio entry
Webinar: How to Turn Your Distillery into a Destination
Join ACSA along with Harvest Hosts for a webinar on how to turn your distillery into a destination. Hear from ASCA and Harvest Hosts members like Iron Fish Distillery about how they have turned their distillery into a destination. From live music to wedding venues to hosting RVers on your property, we will discuss everything in between with some tips on where to get started! You will also hear more from Harvest Hosts about how to host RVers on your property. We hope you will join us for this engaging conversation!
Scroll down to read a Q&A with Sash Hickey of Harvest Hosts.
On Aug. 31, ACSA hosted a fire prevention and protection class at Watershed Distillery in Columbus, Ohio. The class was funded by the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Susan Harwood Training Grant program, which provides training and education programs for employers and workers on the recognition, avoidance, and prevention of safety and health hazards in their workplaces.
The seven-hour class was developed and presented by Industrial Safety & Training Services. Topics covered in the class included combustible dust; housekeeping; hot work operations; flammable liquids and gasses; flammable liquid and chemical storage; equipment and machinery; hazard recognition and identification; electrical hazards; OSHA, NEC and NFPA guidelines; and emergency action plans, among other safety topics. The course was tailored specifically to beverage alcohol production at a craft scale.
Course attendees came from Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New York, and Washington, D.C. All materials developed through the grant will be available for free on the OSHA website as well as ACSA’s website. This was ACSA’s pilot year in the grant, and ACSA hopes to expand the grant program over additional grant cycles to further develop the course and reach more distilleries across the United States.
Q&A with Sash Hickey of Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts is an RV membership program that allows self-contained travelers to overnight around the country at more than 4,000 locations, including distilleries, breweries, wineries, farms, museums, golf courses and more. We recently checked in with Sash Hickey, Host Partnerships Coordinator, to learn more about Harvest Hosts.
ACSA: Are there any distillery locations you’re able to mention and share anything about their success?
“We have been an active Host with Harvest Hosts since 2018 and have seen tremendous success! In 2021, we had more than 120 Harvest Hosts Members stay with us leading to an additional annual income of $12,000 just from the program. We see members purchase an average of (3) bottles per stay when they are encouraged to spend $20. We have loved the program and highly recommend fellow distilleries to join!”
It’s seriously free for a distillery to become a Host?
Yes, that’s correct! There is no cost or contract to sign up to become a Host. All you need to do is commit to at least one space for an RVer, fill out a short application at harvesthosts.com/hosts, and our team will be in touch to get you started hosting RVers within a few days!
And there’s no requirement for Hosts to provide amenities? What can Hosts expect from Harvest Hosts Members who stay on their grounds?
All of our RV members are self-contained, meaning they have bathrooms on board and are fully equipped to spend the night without needing any electric or water hook-ups. All that is required is a space to park at least one RVer and products, services or an experience to sell. In return for spending the night, our Members patronize your business, and 100% of the money spent goes to your business. If you do have the option for an RVer to hook up to electricity or fill their water tank, this is something we allow you to charge for. Our team will work with you on finding the best ways to maximize your profits when you join.
What is the enrollment experience like to become a Host? (Is there a site visit, requirements on size of parking spaces, etc.?)
Distilleries who are interested in signing up to host can visit harvesthosts.com/hosts to begin their application. Our Host Success team will then be in touch to help set up their Host profile where they can set their availability, control the number and size of RVs they want to accept, set their hours of operation, state their rules, add photos, describe products they offer, and much more. During this time our team will also ensure you are familiar with our app and platform so you feel comfortable with the process. Within 7-10 days you will be added to the platform and begin accepting overnight stays during the days you’ve set as available.
Becoming a Host feels like an obvious, smart choice for a distillery in a rural setting, but is this something that suburban and urban distilleries can also consider?
Absolutely! We have Hosts in both urban and rural settings, and our members thoroughly enjoy both options. If a distillery has more limited parking space they may choose to only host smaller size RVs, such as 30 feet or less. There is no expectation to understand camping lingo either—our team will walk you through our best suggestions of how many RVs and what size you may be able to accommodate based on your space.
How much growth do you all see when it comes to people exploring in RVs?
The economic climate over the last two years has encouraged travelers to explore road travel and has significantly increased the purchase of RVs. According to RVIA, the RV industry has an annual economic impact to the U.S. economy of $140 billion. It was reported in 2021 that 11.2 million Americans own an RV and 9.5 million plan to purchase one in the next five years. That’s a lot of RVers! Harvest Hosts gives a great opportunity for RVers to experience something new and unique by staying with a small business, such as a distillery, during their travels. It’s a win-win for both the traveler and the businesses we partner with!
Is there anything else you’d want the craft spirits community to know about Harvest Hosts?
Becoming a Host is a great passive marketing opportunity, can increase your annual revenue by an average of $15,000, and you will meet an incredible group of people who are traveling. With more than 225,000 RVers using Harvest Hosts, there is no shortage of opportunity when you become a Host! We encourage you to sign up and give it a try, there is no cost or commitment to stay on the platform. We are so grateful to partner with such amazing distilleries across the country and hope to see yours added in the near future!
The September/October issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine is here, and our cover story examines how some sectors of retail need to catch up to meet the demand for craft gin. This issue also features stories about brand extensions, formula matters, distilling in Maine and more.
Our V.I.P. Lounge members receive each issue of CRAFT SPIRITS magazine one week early, and our $40- and $60-per-year supporters are invited to virtual meet-and-greets with craft spirits icons, like our recent hangout with Lisa Wicker of Widow Jane. To unlock additional bonuses, like a set of CRAFT SPIRITS-branded Glencairn glasses, join us in the V.I.P. Lounge today.
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 media kit to see what’s in store.