The Arizona Craft Brewers Guild, which hosts popular signature events and supports local breweries, is in danger of closing because of the pandemic.
To help keep the organization alive, brewery-goers can purchase the guild’s RECOUPON AZ Beers booklet for $35 and get $750 worth of coupons and discounts at 57 craft breweries throughout the state that and can be used anytime this year.
Discounts range from free growler fills and buy-one-get-one free six packs, to free swag bags and $1 pints.
Since Thanksgiving weekend, the guild has sold more than 2,000 booklets of their 3,000 goal and it will continue selling them through January.
The money raised will go toward keeping both the guild, local breweries and their employees afloat.
“The goal beyond it all is to have our breweries sell more beer,” said guild Executive Director Rob Fullmer. “Since the pandemic, all of our services have been directly to breweries and their survival.”
In addition to raising about $20,000 via their virtual beer festival in April, the guild was also responsible for making to-go beer possible.
“The guild is the backbone that supplied us all with updated info and worked with the governor’s office to allow us to do to-go on all beverages,” said O.H.S.O. Owner Jon Lane. “I am very grateful to our communities and our guild.”
The guild hosts a slew of annual craft beer events throughout the state, including Arizona Strong Beer Festival and Arizona Beer Week, raising money that helps support the nearly 100 breweries and more than 1,200 workers.
“Traditionally our organization has been fully funded. It is the main entree between the consumer and the brewery. It has been live events, beer festivals, educational pieces. We also have a conference. And those have all gone away,” Fullmer said.
Without its in-person events, the guild has lost an estimated 85 percent of their revenue amid the pandemic.
That has left the guild struggling to fulfill an important piece of their mission: to educate their members of legal and legislative issues relevant to the craft brewing industry and take action.
“These events help us gain the financial piece to assist in changing laws, developing safety standards and educating our brewers through guild meeting, conferences and industry technical group meetings,” Lane said.
Added Fullmer: “It’s the reason why we don’t take the statement that we are in jeopardy without that very lightly.”
Lane said that without the guild, breweries would lose events, educational resources and funds, legislative drive and assistance and communication resources.
“It would immensely hurt our growth and stability as small businesses if we had no one watching our proverbial back,” he said. “Without them, we would not have had the information, drive or carry through to get the to-go beverage sales through the governor’s office [and] relay all the necessary info needed to all breweries to operate.”
Fate Brewing Company has helped grow over the past eight years with the guild’s help.
“It is extremely important to keep AZCBG alive as they support all local breweries with legislation and have been instrumental in providing us with necessary information during the pandemic,” said Fate Brewing spokeswoman Jessica Colby.
Had it not been for the guild, many breweries would already have fallen to the pandemic, said Huss Brewing Company sales director Chip Mulala.
“Rob and the Guild were our voice in the rooms that counted when the big decisions were being made,” Mulala said. “We would have been left on the sidelines and potentially suffered the same fate as other hospitality sectors, which would have been devastating.”
Currently, the guild is helping breweries expand Huss’ premises by extending its patios.
“Traditionally, we do things at the state level: state laws, state policy. More and more, we’re doing things at the county level, the city level. We’re helping with zoning,” Fullmer said.
One brewery that received the go-ahead last month to expand its patio, allowing for an additional 30 to 35 seats, is Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company.
“We are grateful to have been lended the help from the Town of Gilbert to expand our patio at our Gilbert Brewpub,” said AZ Wilderness Company Coordinator Carly Jones. “Otherwise, we still feel the weight of the pandemic in sales versus last year’s holiday season and hope to see a more rewarding trend into the new year.”
While Fullmer stresses that “all breweries are not the same,” all four breweries interviewed emphasized the importance of keeping the guild alive.
“The guild is an integral part of keeping Arizona’s local breweries alive and our people employed,” Mulala said.
“We believe it is important, more than ever now, to unify the support to all of us during these times of uncertainty and agree that this RECOUPON Booklet can be the key to our 2021 rejuvenation!” Jones added.
For a list of 35 participating locations and/or to purchase the booklet: ChooseAZBrews.com.
“If you want to attend another Arizona Strong Beer Festival; Real, Wild & Woody; or any of our other signature events when it is safe to do so, we need your support,” Fullmer said.