Ms. Katie Stinchon is Executive Director of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild (“MBG”), the membership-based association of Massachusetts brewers formed to promote and protect the interests of craft brewers in Massachusetts. Ms. Stinchon has gracefully agreed to share with us the mission and story of MBG, as well as insights on the state of craft beer making in Massachusetts.
TMA: Katie, thank you for sitting down with us! Could you please tell us more about Massachusetts Brewers Guild (“MBG”) – how did it get started and what’s the story behind it?
My pleasure! Thanks for helping to share our mission with your readers.
The Mass Brewers Guild is a nonprofit organization that exists to protect and promote the interests of craft brewers. It was founded in 2007, by a group of committed and passionate brewers. To date, there are 147 breweries across the state with more than 20 additional breweries slated to open in 2018. Through industry and educational events, its mobile application beer trail map, and by providing resources and marketing support to brewers, the nonprofit works to highlight Massachusetts as a top travel destination for craft beer in the U.S. The board also continues its work at the legislative level, fighting for license and franchise law reform, and serving as the voice of craft brewers on Beacon Hill.
TMA: What are specific challenges faced by your members, and how does MBG help them?
Despite the success of the craft beer industry, brewers face many challenges including access to the market, cost of raw materials and ingredients, and operation in a highly regulated and taxed industry making protection and essential component of the organization’s mission. In Massachusetts, brewers work to combat decades-old franchise laws which keep them locked into contracts with wholesale distributors whether or not they are happy with the service being provided to them. We also are working to change legislation that would allow our brewers to pour and sell their products at farmers’ markets and to allow brewpub license holders the opportunity to self-distribute their products.
TMA: What role does MBG play in promoting craft beer making – are there any particular programs sponsored by MBG?
This past year we hosted our inaugural “New Brewery Bootcamp,” which served as a day-long event of workshops to help breweries in-planning, or those just about to launch, get some advice from experts and industry professionals on the ins and outs of running a brewery. We are in the process of adding more programming to our lineup in the coming year such as a technical conference to provide technical and quality training to our members.
TMA: What would you say to the visitors who are in Massachusetts for their first time and are contemplating to visit one of your brewers?
First, I would recommend that they download our new mobile application beer trail map, “Mass Craft Beer,” available on iTunes and Google Play. Our new app makes it easy to build an evening or weekend around museums, hiking, shopping, site seeing, skiing, and craft breweries. No matter where you are in Massachusetts – there’s a brewery nearby that can offer a different experience. From tours and tastings, live music, food trucks, trivia, to yoga – there’s something for everyone. Visiting our breweries is the best way to support the craft beer community in Massachusetts. Breweries employ locals, drive traffic and tourism to the state and pour world-class craft beer to thirsty residents and travelers.
TMA: What makes Massachusetts special for beer lovers – what makes beer made here different from others?
Whatever your palate calls for, Massachusetts can quench your thirst. The Massachusetts craft beer scene is a powerhouse industry and our breweries are ranked among the best in the world, country, and New England. We offer a diverse collection of award-winning beers from sours to New England IPAs, to lagers and porters. It’s a great time to explore what Massachusetts has to offer!
TMA: What do you think of local craftsmaking in general, not limited to the beer? Is it alive and kicking in America?
Absolutely, with sites like Etsy and national efforts such as “Shop Small” leading up to the holiday season, I think that people are looking for products and gifts that are as unique as their maker. There’s something that feels inherently good when you know you’ve supported a small business owner that loves what they do. There’s always a great story behind the business, the individual, and the product.
Dear TMA readers, please extend our collective gratitude to Ms. Katie Stinchon for speaking with us, and follow Massachusetts Brewers Guild on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MassBrewersGuild/ and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MABrewersGuild. We are @makersalmanac on both Facebook and Twitter – follow us for the latest and greatest in crafting!