Interview with Kevin Atticks, 2016 March 10

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  • Introduction
    Partial Transcript: What is your proper job title here?
    Synopsis: Atticks explains his position at trade consultancy Grow + Fortify, LLC, and the connection between his firm and the Brewers’ Association of Maryland.
    Keywords: Employment; Job description
  • Background
    Partial Transcript: Where did you grow up, who were your parents?
    Synopsis: Atticks discusses his family background, college education, and early career as a journalist, educator, and writer.
    Keywords: Bowie, MD; Childhood; CU Boulder; Education; Environment; Journalism; Loyola
  • Entry into the Alcohol Industry
    Partial Transcript: I wrote and published a book about Maryland wineries.
    Synopsis: Atticks discusses his introduction to and fascination with local alcohol production. He first discovered wine in college, and researched the sustainability of wine production during graduate studies in environmental journalism.
    Keywords: Agriculture; Family farms; Local economy; Maryland wineries; Passion; Sustainability
  • Origins of Maryland Wine
    Partial Transcript: Where did the Maryland wine industry come from?
    Synopsis: Atticks discusses the origins of the Maryland wine industry, the activities of industry founder Philip Wagner, the slow development of the industry through the 20th century, and its rapid rise following regulatory changes in the early 21st.
    Keywords: Boordy Vineyards; Glassware; Imports; Maryland wine; Maryland Wineries Association; Nursery; Vines
  • Regulatory Change in the Wine Industry
    Partial Transcript: What changes were you able to make that so radically catalyzed the industry? … The ability to self-distribute is incredibly important.
    Synopsis: Atticks briefly reviews the history of alcohol regulation, discussing how post-Prohibition regulations hurt small wine producers, how his efforts with the Maryland Wineries Association changed regulations to allow self-distribution, on-site tours and tastings, and other activities advantageous to small producers, and the legal challenges faced in making the reforms. He also touches on the relationship between alcohol producers and distributors, and how it is shaped by the law.
    Keywords: Distribution; Granholm v. Heald; Independent producers; Law; Lawsuit; Legislation; Maryland; Pennsylvania; Production scale; Prohibition; Regulations; Supreme Court
  • Grow + Fortify, LLC
    Partial Transcript: How did you come up with the idea to begin this firm?
    Synopsis: Atticks discusses how Grow + Fortify emerged from his work with the Maryland Wineries Association. He notes the gap observed between his successes with the wine industry and the relative inactivity of the state brewers’ guild. The overlap in needs between local wineries, breweries, and distilleries convinced Atticks to found a consultancy to provide organization and advocacy to the craft alcohol industries of Maryland.
    Keywords: Advocacy; Beer; Collaboration; Lobbying; Spirits; Trade association; Wine
  • Brewers’ Association of Maryland
    Partial Transcript: My pitch to the Brewers’ Association (of Maryland) was… let’s do it… Part of the real appeal of craft brewing to the consumer is the idea that they are participating in something.
    Synopsis: Atticks discusses the activities of the Brewers’ Association of Maryland before and after becoming a client of Grow + Fortify. Activities include lobbying for favorable legislation, organizing public events, and generating promotional materials. He describes the necessary commitment to professional organization, the logistics of funding and budgeting, and the challenges of serving a diverse industry across multiple regions of the state. Also discussed are the importance of winning consumers over to the local, craft alcohol market segment, and the role producers have in engaging consumers and collaborating with one another to grow the market share enjoyed by local, craft producers.
    Keywords: Baltimore City; Baltimore Craft Beer Fest; Brand loyalty; Branding; Brewers’ Association of Maryland; Collaboration; Cumberland, MD; Eastern Shore; Friendly competition; Local market; Maryland Craft Beer Festival; Professionalization; Public events; Trade association
  • Market Statistics
    Partial Transcript: We track those numbers very clearly.
    Synopsis: Atticks discusses the size of the alcohol market in Maryland, the origins of beer and wine consumed in the state, and the ratio of Maryland-made alcohol consumed in-state to that made elsewhere. He explains that Maryland beer enjoys a larger market and higher in-state market share than Maryland wine, and sketches the landscape of the brewing industry across the state.
    Keywords: Consumption; Market share; Statistics
  • Craft Brewing
    Partial Transcript: What is craft brewing? … That’s the great debate.
    Synopsis: Atticks discusses the controversy surrounding the definition of craft brewing, highlighting production scale, market reach, location, and beer style as areas of debate. Atticks hesitates to give a definition, but points toward “craft” as a cultural position, and states that all breweries currently operating in Maryland are craft breweries. Differences between “craft” in wine, beer, and spirits are also discussed.
    Keywords: Appellation; Craft; Craft brewing; Culture; Debate; Definition
  • Farm-to-Keg
    Partial Transcript: What is farm-to-keg, and why does it matter?
    Synopsis: Atticks discusses how a 2012 change to regulations enabled the growth of the farm brewery business model, allowing breweries to operate on agricultural land provided they source ingredients from the property or neighboring farms. The provenance of the product becomes an important selling point for consumers, much like other value-added agricultural industries: wine, cheese, local produce, etc. Atticks comments on the manifestation of terroir in beer, especially via hops, and the development of local industries for growing and processing beer ingredients.
    Keywords: Appellation; Barley; Farm brewery; Farm-to-Keg; Hops; License; Licensure; Local ingredients; Malt house; Malting; Pelletizing; Processing; Terroir; Virginia
  • Value-added Agriculture
    Partial Transcript: How do you see value-added agriculture fitting into the economic picture of this region?
    Synopsis: Atticks discusses how value-added business models can make agriculture more sustainable and more profitable. Atticks argues that conventional agriculture requires large concentrations of land, capital, and other inputs, whereas adding specialty crops, on-site processing, and/or agro-tourism can make small farm operations competitive, thus supporting rural communities
    Keywords: Agriculture; Berries; Cheese; Chickens; Community; Environment; Farming; Goats; Land use; Poultry; Sustainability; Value-added
  • Climate
    Partial Transcript: Our climate… it’s the typical Mid-Atlantic… it’s very flexible in terms of what you want to grow and where you want to grow it.
    Synopsis: Atticks discusses how the varied topography and climate of Maryland support the state’s agricultural industries. The role of environmental quality in creating economic opportunity is discussed, as are the impacts of climate change on the evolution of practices in the wine industry and the future of the state’s agriculture.
    Keywords: Agriculture; Canning; Climate; Climate change; Cucumbers; Environment; Oysters; Ph; Pomegranates; Red wine; Riesling; Soil; Sugar content; Terroir; Tomatoes; Truck gardening; Weather
  • Quality Improvements
    Partial Transcript: When I was first in the business there was an assumption that your first three years your wine… wasn’t going to be great… and that’s unacceptable now.
    Synopsis: Atticks discusses how Maryland wineries have improved the quality of their product. He explains how the demand for quality in the marketplace, and the empowerment of consumers, erects a certain barrier to entry for novice producers, and creates business opportunities for consultants and contract producers.
    Keywords: Consumer reviews; Contract production; Quality improvement; Yelp
  • Contract Brewing
    Partial Transcript: Contract brewing is… helping a lot of small breweries get started.
    Synopsis: Atticks discusses the contract brewing system, and its analogues in other beverage industries. For small operations, the added cost of contract production may be offset by the enhanced market presence it allows.
    Keywords: Bottling; Contract brewing; Distribution; Pepsi; Soda; Startups
  • State and National Brewers’ Associations
    Partial Transcript: How do state guilds such as the Brewers’ Association of Maryland compare to or relate with the national Brewers’ Association?
    Synopsis: Atticks discusses cooperation between the craft brewing trade associations at state and national levels. State guilds support national calls to action, while the national Brewers’ Association provides valuable resources and networks. Atticks suggests that the system helps to meet local needs in a national context. He observes that Maryland craft distillers are comparatively well organized beside their counterparts elsewhere.
    Keywords: Brewers' Association; Brewers’ Association of Maryland; Guild; Kentucky; Legislation; New York; Organization; Taxes; Trade association
  • Organizational Expertise
    Partial Transcript: What are some of the advantages of operating three trade associations conjointly?
    Synopsis: Atticks explains that the needs of local beverage industries have significant overlap, highlighting challenges related to marketing, market access, regulation and legislation. Bringing the trade association activities of the Maryland craft alcohol industries under one roof allows for the organizational experience gained serving the wine industry to benefit the beer and spirits industries as well. He notes the relatively backward state of distillery regulations, and the need for further reform advocacy.
    Keywords: Collaboration; Trade association; Transferrable knowledge