Bob Pease of the Brewers Association

57:40
 
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As brewers work to figure out how to survive until a time when their operations can return to full business, the trade organization that represents them is also feeling the pain. Based in Boulder, Colorado, the Brewers Association represents more than 5600 US breweries and nearly 50,000 homebrewers, the allied trade, beer wholesalers, retailers, and other individuals. Its mission is to promote and protect American craft brewers, their beers, and the community of brewing enthusiasts.

And the person in charge of the entire association is Bob Pease (P-E-A-S). Bob has worked for the BA for nearly thirty years, helping run its operations before ascending to the vice president and chief operating officers position. In 2014, following the retirement of founder and longtime leader Charlie Papazian, Bob took over as CEO of the Brewers Association. In that role, he has helped the BA substantially grow its revenue, largely from events such as the Craft Brewers Conference and the Great American Beer Festival, but also by expanding membership. In his tenure, the BA has grown to become a nearly $30 million association. And its efforts on behalf of trade members and craft beer fans have grown substantially, including ramped up lobbying efforts in Congress and across state legislatures, broader craft beer education programs, and online.

The coronavirus has not spared the BA. With the cancellation of its signature events, CBC and GABF, comes the loss of a substantial portion of the association’s revenue. And with the virus continuing to rage and in person large scale events unlikely to return any time soon, Bob and the BA’s board of directors have had to make some very tough decisions. The BA has undertaken two rounds of staff layoffs including several very well-known individuals such as Julia Herz and Acacia Coast, among others. And Bob and the BA are having to plan for a very different future than they expected.

In our lengthy conversation, Bob walks us through the BA’s decision to cancel the CBC, what the association plans to focus on in the future now that its revenue has been slashed, he goes into detail about the hiring of beverage attorney Marc Sorini and he discusses the criticism that he has received from some members of the beer media for their coverage of this hiring at a time of other staff layoffs. Bob has also been the focal point for some criticism on social media for the BA’s handling of issues relating to diversity, inclusion, and racial justice. We spend a lot of time in the episode asking Bob some tough questions about the BA’s own diversity efforts, whether the BA should kick out breweries that have a demonstrated history of racist or otherwise objectionable behavior, and whether he believes the craft beer industry is inclusive.

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