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Got a Story Idea? . Events
Association Bisnow
January 22, 2008

The Association We Want
To Have a Beer With

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“Advocacy can be fun.” Uttered by anyone else, that statement might raise more than a few cynical eyebrows on Capitol Hill. But when it comes from the lips of Craig Purser, CEO of the National Beer Wholesalers Association, somehow it’s easy to believe. To illustrate his point—not that we need convincing—he gives us Exhibit A:  NBWA’s poll to determine “Which of the presidential candidates would you rather have a beer with?” (Click here to cast your vote. But only after you’ve read the article.)


Does this man have the best job ever? Craig is a 10-year veteran of the NBWA, which has a bar (yes, a bar!) right in its Alexandria office. Staffers gather for happy hours on Friday to try crazy brews like “Wild Blueberry & Wheat Ale.” Hmm, such a shame to waste the bar Sunday through Thursday. 


The profile-raising poll isn’t just taking place on the Internet—on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, the NBWA conducted a straw poll on the question at The Peddler’s Daughter, a Nashua tavern. The NBWA held a similar event in Iowa and will also set up in South Carolina. We’ll leave you in suspense about all the results, but let it be known that Ron Paul is making a surprising showing in the online poll. 


The NBWA represents the interests of 2,750 beer distributors accounting for 96% of market volume in the U.S.  The association holds a bi-annual trade show and . . . oh, who are we kidding?  We know you’re just staring at that poster.


As if they didn’t have enough fun, the NBWA also recently produced a video demonstrating a day in the life of a beer distributor.  The whimsical four-minute piece, called “Mr. Beer Guy” and set to the tune of “Mr. Blue Sky” by ELO, puts a human face on the guys who wake up at 4:00 a.m. and save the day by filling keg orders at tapped-out bars.  When it played at the NBWA’s fall convention in Las Vegas (where else would it be?), Craig says that he could see “3,000 members sit up taller in their chairs.”  The NBWA will be sending copies of the video to all 535 members of the new Congress, some of whom allegedly drink alcohol.


Here, Craig seems to be taking a sobriety test while we administered our interview. For Pete’s sake, that’s a joke.  Actually, the NBWA gets very serious when it comes to promoting responsible alcohol consumption.


Indeed, Craig says he’s proudest of the NBWA’s advocacy for a piece of federal legislation called the “Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking (STOP) Act,” which Congress passed little more than a year ago.  (Don’t ask us how they derived the acronym.) The NBWA partnered with the Beer Institute, Distilled Spirits Council, the Wine Institute, MADD, and other public health organizations to push the legislation, which among other things establishes a federal committee to prevent underage drinking.  And while the NBWA doesn’t see eye-to-eye with its partners on every issue, Craig says the group can build on the successes of STOP by focusing “on the 80 percent of things we agree on [rather] than the 20 percent we don’t.” Who said happy hours don’t produce clear thinking?

Reed Smith
Arent Fox
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