Julia Herz, who has been the face, the voice and the fire behind American craft beer for more than a decade, was laid off from her high-profile job as the craft-beer program director at the Brewers Association, a national trade group that has been reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Eight other BA staffers were also let go, according to the Boulder-based organization. The not-for-profit had already laid off about a quarter of its staff in April. The two layoffs totaled 24 people, or 35 percent of the Brewers Association workforce.
"Like most of you, the Brewers Association has not been untouched by the current global health pandemic and economic crisis," BA president Bob Pease says in a June 26 statement announcing the latest round of cuts.
"Despite our best efforts to weather the impacts of these events through cost-savings measures already implemented, the recent shift of the festival portion of the Great American Beer Festival from the annual in-person gathering in Denver to an online experience, combined with the cancellation of all our 2020 events and the subsequent loss of nearly 70 percent of our annual revenue, has forced us to make the difficult decision to make further reductions to our staff."
An omnipresent force behind craft brewing’s growth from 1,800 breweries in 2010 to more than 8,300 today, Herz has been an educator, speaker, author, advocate and image creator. She has helped promote small and independent breweries, and has been a hallmark of the organization's marketing efforts.
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Known for her fiery presentations and her love of beer and food pairings, she's recognizable to almost every craft brewery owner in the country. Although Herz couldn't be reached for comment, she tweeted, "Thanks for all the good wishes and outreach. I'll be back at my virtual desk on Monday to reply to the many kind thoughts and offers. All options are on the table to consider."
On June 26, the BA also announced some of the details — including prices — for its online Great American Beer Festival in a newsletter to members. They include a nationwide "passport" program between October 1-18, offering "exclusive access to beery deals at participating festival breweries nationwide, and access to exclusive online content October 16-17." The cost of that program ranges from $20 to $50.
Here's Pease's complete statement issued on June 26:
Like most of you, the Brewers Association has not been untouched by the current global health pandemic and economic crisis. Despite our best efforts to weather the impacts of these events through cost-savings measures already implemented, the recent shift of the festival portion of the Great American Beer Festival from the annual in-person gathering in Denver to an online experience, combined with the cancellation of all our 2020 events and the subsequent loss of nearly 70% of our annual revenue, has forced us to make the difficult decision to make further reductions to our staff.
Yesterday, we laid off an additional nine members of our team—an additional 17% reduction in staff for a total reduction of 35% of our workforce. In total, 24 employees have been affected to date. With these reductions also comes some internal restructuring to streamline efficiencies and maximize our support to our members as we right size the organization and best position the association for success in the coming years. More on these details will be forthcoming.
I’d like to reiterate that our commitment to you, our members, remains unwavering and stronger than ever. Over the course of the past few months, we have continued to provide relevant and timely resources to our brewing community as we navigate these uncharted waters together. Examples include robust online and virtual content for both professional and amateur members via CBC Online and Homebrew Con Online; our COVID-19 Resource Center of business-critical, shutdown-related technical and financial resources; a reimagined Great American Beer Festival competition and virtual festival; deferred and monthly membership payment options; and tireless advocacy in Washington, D.C.
With more than 5,000 adopters, the Independent Craft Brewer Seal has achieved critical momentum thanks to all of you. Rest assured, the Brewers Association will continue to promote the seal to keep small and independent craft brewers top of mind with beer lovers. We will continue to execute our national beer holidays of National Independent Beer Run Day, Small Brewery Sunday, and American Craft Beer Week, and the 2020 GABF virtual festival will provide a new vehicle to promote small and independent craft brewers to beer lovers nationwide.
We will continue to work with you, the state guilds, and our legislative partners to fight for small and independent craft brewers on the state and federal level. Many brewers are enjoying new access to market capabilities, and making permanent curbside pickup, delivery, and direct-to-consumer shipping is an area we will have enhanced involvement in with the state guilds.
Such resources and action ensure that we will continue to promote and protect American craft brewers, their beers, and the community of brewing enthusiasts.
The Brewers Association’s fortune mirrors the fortunes of the American craft beer community. No one knows how long the pandemic and current economic crisis will last but it’s clear that it will leave the craft brewing community forever changed. We look forward to forging the path ahead to a bright future with you, together.
Thank you for your support and membership.
President & CEO