California Craft Brewers Association Applauds Governor Brown for Signing AB 774

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (July 15, 2015) – Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA), issued the following statement today in response to Governor Jerry Brown signing Assembly Bill 774, authored by Assembly Member Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and sponsored by the CCBA.

“AB 774 is an exciting development for the craft beer industry in California. This bill allows craft brewers to offer tastings at their regional Farmers Markets, allowing breweries to introduce the art of craft beer to new audiences across the state. Potential customers can sample the beers they may be purchasing for off-site consumption and breweries can connect directly with local craft beer enthusiasts and access additional sales opportunities. This bill supports the craft brewing industry’s growing contribution to the California economy and allows local breweries to educate their customers on the rich diversity of locally made beers.

“AB 774 will also allow non-profits to receive beer donations from breweries to assist them in their fundraising activities, including auctions and raffles. Currently, non-profit special event license holders are not allowed to sell donated beer for off-site consumption. This is an exciting development for CCBA’s brewery members, many of which are very involved in community charity organizations across the state.

“This year has been marked by tremendous growth and support for the craft beer industry in California, an industry that contributed more than $6.5 billion to the state economy in 2014. CCBA member breweries applaud Gov. Brown for continuing to encourage the community of California’s craft brewers and thank Assembly Member Marc Levine for authoring AB 774. We are looking forward to a strong future for craft beer in California.”

Beer, Water & the Drought – Part I

June 23rd, 2015 by CCBA


This is the first in a two part series on how the drought may impact the California craft brewing industry from the Executive Director of the California Craft Brewers Association, Tom McCormick.

In summer 2014, after three years of below average precipitation here in the Golden State, very few craft breweries felt the impact of the drought. While some breweries had to adapt to a change in water chemistry after water agencies shifted to new sources of water, very few CCBA brewery members had mandatory restrictions placed on their water consumption.

This year, after yet another dry winter season, California’s breweries face a different situation.

In April 2015, Governor Jerry Brown issued an unprecedented executive order mandating that urban water use be cut by 25 percent across the state. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) developed a framework to implement this mandate, including imposing mandatory cutbacks on all urban water districts ranging from 6 percent to 36 percent per district.

The specific cutback for each district is based on how much water that district used per person in 2013. Districts with a high per capita water use in 2013 were given a larger cutback (up to 36 percent) compared to the districts with low per capita use. The DWR left it to individual water agencies to figure out how to meet the cutback requirements, which means water agencies have the choice of issuing mandatory restrictions, controlling consumption by raising rates, or applying other methods to implement the cutbacks. Water agencies also have the ability to impose different restrictions on different types of water users (industry, recreational, residential, etc.).

This means that California’s craft breweries will have an opportunity to work with their local water agencies to discuss the restrictions and work together to help support our state through this ongoing drought. CCBA members will continue to implement innovative and effective ways to work with their local water agencies to use water more efficiently.

While water is one of beer’s primary ingredients, actual water use by craft breweries in California ranges dramatically depending on size and other factors. The current statewide average is unknown, but spans from 3.5 to 6 gallons of water for every gallon of beer produced. Most water used in the production of beer is for cleaning and sanitation. The other ingredients used in the production of beer, including hops and barley, are imported from other states. This use of out-of-state ingredients reduces the amount of agricultural pressure the craft brewing process has on California’s water problem.

Overall, the industry is not a big water user in the state. According to the author of a recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) report, Dr. Jeffrey Mount, the craft beer industry has “little to no impact on California’s drought.”

For the past two decades, our members have consistently sought out and invested in new ways to reduce the amount of water used in the beer brewing process and are leading the state in adopting water conservation technology. A few recent examples include:

  • Using the latest technology, Ballast Point (San Diego) has reduced its water use by more than 24 percent.
  • Stone Brewing Company (San Diego) recycles more than 62 percent of its water daily by reducing the need for fresh water in its brewing and production process.
  • Since 2007, Sierra Nevada (Chico) has reduced water consumption per barrel of beer produced by 25 percent.
  • Anderson Valley Brewing (Booneville) has been awarded the California Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP) multiple times and has its own waste water treatment plant. The brewery uses all its wastewater to irrigate the surrounding 28 acres of brewery grounds.
  • Bear Republic Brewing (Cloverdale) is seeking permits to install a Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) which will allow for a minimum of 50% water reuse at the brewery resulting in an estimated 8.7 million gallon savings in water use.

CCBA’s brewery members have long cared about California’s natural resources and the industry has been a leader in sustainability, including water conservation and water re-use for many years prior to California’s current water crisis. CCBA brewery members remain committed to developing and implementing the most current technologies in water conservation and re-use and are passionate about being good stewards of our Golden State.


Ryan Graham_Natalie Cilurzo_Select Cmte. on Craft Brewing & Distilling 518 06-17-15

The Select Committee on Craft Brewing and Distilling (Levine, Chair) held an informational public hearing at the State Capitol last week focusing on the California craft brewing industry.

Testifying in front of the committee was Tom McCormick, executive director of the CCBA who spoke on the history of the state’s craft brewing industry, current state of the industry and the regulatory structure that craft brewers operate under. Tom stressed the importance of self-distribution and retail privileges for beer manufacturers in California, stating that without these privileges, the “industry as we know it today would not exist.” He also commented on the continuing growth in the industry by saying that “on average, two new breweries are opening each week” in the state.

Tom was followed by Dr. Bart Watson, chief economist from the Brewers Association. Bart gave a detailed and compelling talk on the continuing growth and future growth potential of the industry in California. “I think there is a lot of room for growth here in California,” Bart said. “If the entire state of California” had the same per capita ratio of breweries as does San Diego, “there would be 1,250 breweries in California.”

Well-known brewing professor Charlie Bamforth, president of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling at UC Davis discussed the “art and science” of brewing and the importance of training and education in the development and success of the craft brewing industry. “There are now about 25-30 organizations, colleges and universities who want to teach brewing” in the US, said Charlie. But UCD is the leader of them all, having “written the textbook.” The university has a long brewing history. Charlie mentioned that “brewing was first taught at UCD in 1958, when the Lucky Lager brewery gave a donation to the university.”

The hearing concluded with Natalie Cilurzo, co-owner & president of Russian River Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa and Ryan Graham, owner/brewmaster at Track 7 Brewing Co. in Sacramento. Both told the interesting stories behind starting up a small brewery, the struggle of the early days and how growth through self-distribution and retail sales helped to propel them to grow their businesses into thriving and expanding enterprises.

Natalie talked about the now internationally known Pliny the Younger release in February each year. The two week release of this double IPA brings 13,000 people to the brewery, 65% of which are tourists coming from 26 different states and 5 different countries according to an economic impact study conducted by the county of Sonoma. “The total economic impact of a two week period of our one little beer was $2.4 million. Not bad for a little beer. Beer tourism is thriving!”

Ryan discussed the quick path of growth that Track 7 has experienced in Sacramento. In just three years, the brewery is on pace to produce 12,000 barrels annually and has recently opened up a second larger production plant to meet demand.

The Select Committee on Craft Brewing and Distilling was formed earlier this year and consists of eleven members of the state Assembly.

The hearing video has been archived and you can watch it here:


Full schedule of brewers, chefs, events and sessions announced for the California Craft Beer Summit and Brewers Showcase


Today the California Craft Brewers Association announced the names of the top chefs, craft beer pioneers and industry icons speaking at the California Craft Beer Summit and Brewers Showcase September 11-12 in Sacramento, California at the Sacramento Convention Center. More than 150 California breweries will attend, including industry icons, Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; David Walker, co-founder of Firestone Walker Brewing Co.; and Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo, owners of Russian River Brewing Co.

During the two-day summit a series of “Tap Talks” on the Expo Floor will allow attendees to interact directly with craft beer legends. Topics will include:

  • The Beginning of the Craft Beer Revolution – Personal Stories from Ken Grossman, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
  • Women in Brewing with Natalie Cilurzo, Russian River Brewing Co.
  • Sour Beers with Vinnie Cilurzo, Russian River Brewing Co. and Patrick Rue, The Bruery
  • IPA’s – Everything to Know About Craft’s #1 Selling Style with Mitch Steele, Brewmaster at Stone Brewing Co.
  • How to Age Beers at Home with Matt Brynildson, Brewmaster at Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

On the “Masters Demo” stage California’s top brewers will work directly with award winning chefs to pair California’s finest beers with food highlighting fresh and local ingredients. Beer enthusiasts will also be able to attend in-depth seminars on how to start a brewery, how to enroll in craft beer higher education programs and an overview of the brewing process with Dr. Charlie ‘The Pope of Foam’ Bamforth, Distinguished Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at University of California, Davis.

“This summit will offer a behind-the-scenes educational experience, while bringing together California’s craft beer comrades to celebrate our industry’s legacy and growth,” said Greg Koch, CEO & co-founder of Stone Brewing Co., and keynote speaker at the summit. “Due to the support we’ve received from fans who value the integrity of California craft beer, we have become a state that’s regarded around the world for its vibrant beer community. Thanks and cheers to those who appreciate and support California beer!”

Ticket packages and pricing for the weekend range from $60 to $239 and include a variety of educational sessions, tasting and food pairing activities, VIP access and festival events on September 11-12 in Sacramento during the city’s annual Farm-to-Fork week.
A complete speaker and topic schedule can be found at

CCBA San Diego Conference Recap

May 27th, 2015 by CCBA



BY: Mike Sardina, Societe Brewing Co, via the West Coaster SD

Sitting in a room with 400 other people, Tom McCormick, the Executive Director of the California Craft Brewers Association (the “CCBA”), is up on stage at the CCBA’s Spring Conference. Tom has arguably been one of the most vocal and ardent supporters of California beer for the last decade or so, and when he is speaking, this group of people listens. “I need to correct a statement I made earlier,” Tom says. “California brewers don’t just some great beer in this country, they brew the best f#ck!ng beer in the United States.” Based on the reaction of the Conference attendees—most of them representatives from brewery members of the CCBA—they clearly agreed.

Beer is big in California, but of course, we here in San Diego already know that. We’ve got 107 operational brew houses in the county. Across all of California, there are now over 550 independent, craft breweries, and projections have it at 600 total by the end of the year. The CCBA Conference, a bi-annual event that is held once each spring in Southern California and once each fall in Northern California, is the opportunity for the brewing community to get together to learn about the industry, to catch-up with old friends, to network with new friends, and enjoy some great beer.

The two-day Conference held last week featured about a dozen educational workshops that covered important topics, including a legislative update on policy issues facing breweries in California, as well as a practical workshop on ABC (California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control) issues surrounding festivals and events and social media use. The drought, and concerns about water, was a major topic covered at the Conference. There was a panel for start-up breweries and breweries in planning, a workshop on brewhouse safety, and a workshop that covered the basics of distribution laws in California. There was a technical workshop on barrel-aged beers too—Tomme Arthur (The Lost Abbey/Port Brewing Company/The Hop Concept) and Patrick Rue (The Bruery) shared technical insight and provided a guided tasting of beers like “Grey Monday” and “Red Poppy.” At 9:30 a.m.

The Conference highlights came on Tuesday afternoon, when Lori Ajax, the Chief Deputy Director of the California ABC engaged in an open discussion about what the regulatory agency can do better in order to help promote the brewing industry in California. With an economic impact of $6.5 billion in 2014, beer is clearly important to our state. It is an encouraging sign to see more overall recognition of this fact—at the governmental level and at the consumer level, alike.

The Conference concluded with a keynote presentation that was all about San Diego beer. Gina Marsaglia (Pizza Port Brewing Company), Lee Doxtader (Callahan’s Pub), and Chris Cramer (Karl Strauss Brewing Company), with a combined 74 years of brewing experience in San Diego, sat on a panel with Vinnie Cilurzo to discuss the then-and-now of San Diego beer. Karl Strauss began operations in 1989, and Callahan’s and Pizza Port were quick to follow. These three pioneers of San Diego beer discussed the significant changes they have witnessed—in the licensing and permitting behind running a brewery, the sourcing of equipment and ingredients, the educational level of consumers, and the types of beer that people like to drink. “Back then, people thought that dark beer came from the bottom of the keg, and that light beer was at the top,” Lee Doxtader joked. “They thought the beer was darker because it was down there at the bottom.” Go out in San Diego—to any brewery Tasting Room, beer bar, or finer restaurant—you’ll find a thriving and vibrant brewing community, with awesome local examples of both dark and light beers. Poured out of separate kegs. We’ve come a long way.

The California Craft Brewers Association is hosting the first California Craft Beer Summit this fall in Sacramento, on September 11 – 12, 2015.
Every single craft brewer in California is invited to participate. The event will be the first of its kind, an interactive and experiential event that focuses on all things California Beer.
The event will include a trade show, educational seminars, beer and food pairings, and of course, a beer festival.
For more information, visit:


The California craft beer is a $6.5 billion industry, according to new data released today by the California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA). As of March 2015 there were 554 operating breweries in California, more than any other state in the nation. 

“Over the past few years we’ve seen consistent growth in the craft beer industry both here in California and across the nation,” said Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Brewers Association.  “Last year was by far the strongest upward trend we’ve seen, an amazing year for craft brewing in California.”

California is the birthplace of the American craft brewing movement and at the forefront of the industry’s growth. California produces one out of every five craft beers produced in the United States.

“California craft brewers play an important role in supporting the economic engine in California,” said McCormick. “The CCBA’s initiatives continue to promote and protect the growth of the craft brewing industry in California.”


Economic Impact – In 2014 Craft beer contributed more than $6.5 billion to the economy of California. That’s up 18% from 2013.  The craft beer industry in California has a higher economic impact than any other state in the U.S.

Employment – In 2014 the craft beer industry created more than 48,000 jobs.

Growth – During 2014 the number of operating breweries grew by more than 24% giving us a total of 520 operating breweries in California at the end of 2014.

Taxes – In 2014 California craft brewers paid more than $56 million in State and federal excise taxes and paid more than $1.3 billion in income and other local, state and federal taxes ($880 million in state and local income taxes and $465 in federal income taxes).

Production Volume – California craft brewers produced 3.4 Million barrels of beer in 2014.

Exports – California craft brewers exported 1.3 million barrels of beer in 2014. That’s still higher than the total production of all but two other states (PA and CO)