Congratulations to Texas’ own Jester King Brewery, which this week received the F. X. Matt Defense of the Small Brewing Industry award at the huge Brewers Association’s Craft Brewers Conference happening right now in Denver.
Just about 9,000 people are attending this conference, and the award to Jester King is the burgeoning industry’s nod to the brewery’s “efforts to overturn antiquated beer laws and create a level playing field for small brewers in Texas,” according to a release posted on the brewery’s website.
The award is named for the late F. X. Matt, president of the F.X. Matt Brewing Co. in Utica, N.Y., from 1980-1989, “a tireless and outspoken champion for the small brewing industry,” reads the BA website.
“Nominations are open to individuals who have given aid and support to the causes of small, independent brewers, and by doing so have supported the Brewers Association’s goal of vigorously defending the craft beer industry.”
Below is the transcript of the acceptance speech given by Ron Extract of Jester King:
“Thank you very much to everyone at the Brewers Association. The award came as a complete surprise, and we’re extremely humbled and honored to accept it. We’d like to thank our attorneys who represented us in our lawsuit against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission — Jim Houchins of The Law Office of James O. Houchins and Pete Kennedy of Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody, P.C., as well as our co-plaintiffs Authentic Beverages Co. and Zax Restaurant and Bar. It was Jim Houchin’s idea to challenge some of the unjust, antiquated laws under which we were being forced to operate. He and Pete Kennedy not only helped to change these laws, they also paved the way for further legislative change that would follow, as a result of the continued efforts of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild and its leaders, to whom we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude.
“As hard as many of us are working to modernize our legal and regulatory structures, there are also those, often with a good deal more resources at their disposal, who are working equally hard to hold us back.
“Last year, Texas breweries gained the right to sell beer directly to consumers and Texas brewpubs gained the right to distribute off site. But, thanks to the efforts of a powerful distributors lobby, we also lost the legal right to receive compensation for one of our most valuable business assets, our territorial distribution rights — an asset that distributors routinely and legally sell to one another for millions of dollars. Distributors often speak about investing in our brands, yet the distributors who were behind this effort seem to feel that the investments that brewers make in their own brands are literally worthless. What’s perhaps even more astounding, though, is that even as these distributors lobby against our interests, other craft brewers continue to sign on with them.
“For those of you who have distributors that you like, and whom you feel genuinely support your interests — and there are definitely some very good ones out there — please encourage them to work together with us to bring about the change we need, and to speak out against those that would hold us back. If you have distributors who do not support our collective interests, or even actively lobby against them, call them out, and hold them accountable. Remind them that the money from selling your brand is helping to pay their bills. And when seeking new distribution, please consider where your prospective distributors stand, what sort of lobbying efforts the money from your brand would support, and what recourse you would have, should that relationship ever go awry.”
Congratulations to Jester King!
Here are the winners at past conferences:
2014 – Jester King Brewery, Austin, Texas
2013 – David Katleski, New York State Craft Brewers Guild/Empire Brewing Co
2012 – Tom McCormick, California Craft Brewers Association
2011 – Dan Kopman, St. Louis Brewery/Schlafly Beer
2010 – Steve Hindy, The Brooklyn Brewery
2009 – Eric Wallace, Left Hand Brewing Company
2008 – John Carlson, Colorado Brewers Guild
2007 – George Hancock, Pyramid Brewing Co.
2006 – Daniel Bradford, past BAA President
2005 – Marc Sorini, McDermott Will & Emery
2004 – Marc Sorini, BAA Counsel
2003 – Jim Parker, Oregon Brewers Guild
2002 – Mike McKinney, Texas Wholesalers Association
2001 – David Edgar, Past Institute for Brewing Studies Director
2000 – Fred Bowman, Portland Brewing Co.