BA Announces 2023 Industry Award Recipients
The Brewers Association has announced the recipients of its 2023 Industry Awards. In past years the BA has announced the awards at the opening general session of the Craft Brewers Conference. This year, the award recipients have been announced prior to the conference and the recipients will be honored during a special ceremony at the conference in Nashville on Monday, May 8th.
“This year’s award recipients have set the bar high,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO, Brewers Association. “They have legislated millions of dollars of excise tax relief for small brewers, pushed the envelope of brewing innovation, inspired and mentored future leaders, and cultivated, supported, and defended underrepresented communities. In short, this year’s honorees have had an immeasurable impact on the craft beer community and beyond.”
And the winners are….
The F.X. Matt Defense of the Industry Award was awarded to Retired Congressman Peter DeFazio. This award is named for the late F.X. Matt of F.X. Matt Brewing Co. and is presented to an individual or company for their contributions and efforts in championing the small brewing industry.
DeFazio retired from Congress after representing Oregon’s 4th Congressional District for 36 years—the longest-serving House member in Oregon’s history. A long-time supporter of small and independent breweries, DeFazio was an original founder of the House of Representatives Small Brewers Caucus.
The Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing was awarded to Ben Edmunds, Breakside Brewery (Portland, OR). This award is presented in honor of Wynkoop Brewing Company founding partner Russell Schehrer to an individual or company for their innovative contributions to the brewing industry.
Ben Edmunds is the brewmaster at Breakside Brewery in Portland, Oregon, where he oversees the company’s production brewery and two pub breweries. As the founding brewer of Breakside, he helped grow the company from a small brewpub into a successful regional brewery. Under Edmunds’ leadership, Breakside has won many medals at international competitions, including eight World Beer Cup awards, 22 Great American Beer Festival medals since 2011, and Brewery of the Year honors at the Oregon Beer Awards in 2015, 2017, and 2019-22. Educated at the Siebel Institute and Yale University, he is a former president and current board member of the Oregon Brewers Guild, a judge at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup, a founder of the Oregon Beer Awards, and a member of the MBAA National Technical Committee.
The Brewers Association Recognition Award was awarded to Jessica and Richard Fierro, co-owners, Atrevida Beer Co. (Colorado Springs, CO). This award is presented each year to an individual or company whose inspiration, enthusiasm, and support have contributed to the craft brewing movement.
In 2017, Jessica Fierro entered her beer Doña Neta in VICE TV’s Beerland competition. The beer won. One year later, Fierro opened her own brewery, Atrevida Beer Co., in Colorado Springs. As a woman- and Latina-owned brewery, Fierro ran into difficulties on all fronts, from sourcing funding to battling biases. Fierro was resolved to build a business her way, which included hiring an all-women (and one male) brew crew. Jessica and her husband, Rich, a former 15-year Army officer with four combat tours, have a vision to bring the community together. “Diversity, it’s on tap!” is engrained in Atrevida’s culture and displayed throughout the brewery. Every beer on the menu has a narrative with the intention of creating meaningful dialogue. This unwavering commitment to the community was especially present on November 19, 2022. The Fierro family was at Club Q when a gunman opened fire. Five people lost their lives and 25 more were injured. Rich tackled the assailant and, with the help of bystanders, disarmed the gunman and undoubtedly saved lives.
Brewers Association Mentor of the Year Award was awarded to Julie Rhodes, owner, Not Your Hobby Marketing Solutions. The Mentor of the Year Award recognizes a volunteer mentor for their outstanding mentorship to program participants and for demonstrating an extraordinary commitment to championing those who experience barriers to access and advancement in their professional journeys.
With over two decades of experience in the food and beverage industry, Julie Rhodes is an authority on off-site beverage sales, digital marketing, leadership, team management, and distributor partnership management. She is the owner of Not Your Hobby Marketing Solutions, an educational services and strategic business consulting company built specifically for small to medium-sized craft beverage companies, where she teaches owners and operators how to work smarter, not harder. In addition to being an educator and strategic advisor, she is also a beverage business journalist, an active public speaker, a Certified Cicerone, a member of the national board of the Pink Boots Society, and a member of the North American Guild of Beer Writers, the American Cider Association, Women of the Vine & Spirits, and multiple state brewery guilds.
Award recipients were nominated by their peers and determined by votes from committees comprised of members of the Brewers Association board of directors, the craft brewing community, and past award winners.