Lauren Bennett McGinty has gone from craft beer enthusiast and home brewer to landing her “dream job” as the newly named executive director of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild.
She traces her interest in craft beer to attending the guild’s Autumn Brew Review event several years ago. That led to volunteering at a few breweries to learn the industry and, eventually, her new role with the guild. “I love craft beer and as a Minnesotan I love working with this organization because it really supports our Minnesota makers,” Bennett McGinty said.
The guild, founded in 2000, connects and advocates for more than 130 Minnesota craft brewery and brewpub members. It sponsors festivals and events to showcase brewer’s talents. “One of our goals in the coming year is to engage our craft brew enthusiasts even more with our activities, which means amping up some of our festivals and other offerings,” she said.
The guild’s next event, for example — Winterfest, on Feb. 16 at Union Depot in St. Paul — will feature a new format that pairs small plates from local chefs with specialty craft beers from breweries throughout the state, Bennett McGinty said.
She has a background in membership relations and programming from her most recent role as membership experience manager at Scientific Societies. She also has worked in communication roles with the Master Brewers Association of the Americas and American Society of Brewing Chemists.
Q: What’s driving the growth in the state’s craft brewing industry?
A: It comes down to communities. A lot of the new places are popping up in small towns or friendly neighborhoods. They’re doing well because of the communities that surround these breweries, that help them and drink their beer and encourage them to keep making it.
Q: How will the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which Congress passed in December, affect Minnesota brewers?
A: Every little penny really makes a different and there are razor-thin margins at breweries. … It will provide huge tax relief for all the craft brewers in Minnesota. They can take this additional money and reinvest it in their breweries and their staff.
Q: What are your goals in working with brewers?
A: We want to continue to provide educational opportunities for our members. We want to share more of their stories with the public. … We want to share those stories with our legislators to engage them in the needs of these small businesses and help them help us push some things through the Capitol that will really help these breweries do better.