Nancy Palmer of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild Makes History at Annual Industry Awards
One of the 2018 Brewers Association Award recipients made history Tuesday, as Nancy Palmer, the executive director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, became the first woman to receive the F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award.
The F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award is named for the late F.X. Matt, president of F.X. Matt Brewing Co. in Utica, New York, who was known as an outspoken, tenacious advocate of small and independent brewing. Nancy Palmer’s tireless effort to modernize Georgia’s beer laws by working with state legislators and wholesalers undoubtedly put her in that category.
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As executive director of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, Palmer led a years-long fight to change Georgia’s antiquated beer laws, ushering in major changes when SB 85 passed and went into effect in 2017. As of September 2017, Georgia became the final state in the U.S. to allow craft brewers to legally sell beer directly to consumers in their taprooms. Previous to September 2017, beer lovers could only buy “tours” at Georgia breweries, during which a limited amount of samples of beer were “free.” Food sales and to-go beers were also part of the expanded law.
The less-restrictive laws have allowed Georgia breweries similar latitude as breweries in other states, which spells growth. Whereas Georgia taprooms could only once feasibly operate a few hours at a time a few days a week, SB 85 allowed breweries to greatly expand hours of operation — and the bottom line. Breweries have also been able to expand production and hire more employees to support them as they grow.
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Palmer received the F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award Tuesday, May 2, at the annual Craft Brewers Conference. The BA, publishers of CraftBeer.com, also credited her leadership among the state guilds executive director network as another reason for the honor.
Past winners include brewery founders as well as other state guild leaders. In 2012, Tom McCormick from the California Craft Brewers Association took home the award; Brook Bristow of the South Carolina Craft Brewers Guild was the 2015 recipient.
The BA also honored the following people during Tuesday’s awards ceremony:
- Brewers Association Recognition Award: Charles Bamforth, UC Davis
- Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing: Tomme Arthur, Port Brewing Co./The Lost Abbey
- Craft Beer Wholesaler of the Year: Tryon Distributing, Charlotte, N.C.