David Katleski – Empire Brewing Company
David Katleski is the founder and president of Empire Brewing Company and the New York State Brewers Association, both of which have distinguished themselves by, respectively, the quality of its products and the effectiveness of its advocacy for small brewers and the many ways in which they can fairly and artfully be presented to their customers.
The brewery was founded in 1994 and has shown what it takes to survive and flourish in a crowded field, not only through top quality but also by progressive business practice. With 10 Great American Beer Festival and 3 World Beer Cup medals the quality of the beer is evident. In addition, it’s a Slow Food Snail of Approval award-winning business, partners with 60 local farmers for the production of the foods on its menu, and purchases 100% New York State renewable energy. It’s also been named one of the 20 best brewpubs in America, by both Beer Advocate and The New Brewer and the Thrillist recently named it “Top 15 Restaurants in NYS not in NYC”.The New York State Brewers Association began in 2003 with 38 breweries. The guild now works with over 190 NYS breweries and has forged an alliance with lawmakers and state wholesalers. Over the past decade Katleski has advocated for and won a myriad of reform, which include the first franchise reform legislation in the U.S. These efforts awarded him the prestigious and national Brewers Association Defense of the Industry Award in 2013.
Randy Lacey – Hopshire Farm & Brewery
Randy Lacey is the Owner/Brewer of Hopshire Farm & Brewery in Freeville, NY. He was a founding board member of the Northeast Hops Alliance (NEHA), drafted early versions of the farm brewery law and with his wife, Diane Gerhart, opened Hopshire as one of the first farm breweries in the state in 2013. He offers specific skills and experience to the BA board.
Engineering Design – Randy worked as a design engineer at Cornell University for 38 years and is skilled in design of HVAC, refrigeration, pumping and ventilation systems. Breweries are unique facilities due to the nature of their mechanical and electrical systems.
Building Codes – For the last 18 years of his career at Cornell, Randy was the designer of record for all Cornell design work. This role included continuous interaction with code officials regarding building design and the code. This is an issue that new breweries need to understand as they build new facilities or renovate existing structures.
Sustainability – Throughout his career Randy has been a leader in sustainability in terms of conservation, renewable energy and water conservation. In 2009 he was employed by the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden CO to create the technical content for a web base resource titled Climate Neutral Research Campuses which details measures for campuses, communities and businesses to pursue climate neutrality.
Candidate Statement – The NYSBA is an important body to the growing list of breweries in the state and does an excellent job. With any organization it is important to have turnover on the board to fairly share the work and to represent the wide range of the constituency. The fastest growing business aspect for breweries is the tasting room. Many of the smaller breweries derive 75% or more of their income from tasting room sales and depend on this to stay in business. The NYSBA needs to be at the forefront promoting legislation to keep and expand the tasting room as wholesalers and distributors push back on brewery sales. We are also at a major decision point for farm breweries as the requirement for NY ingredients increases to 60% in 2019 as the current law is written. The board will be the voice for farm breweries on this topic
Chris Ericson – Lake Placid Pub & Brewery
Christopher Ericson is the founder, owner, and brewmaster of The Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, Big Slide Brewery & Public House, and The Lake Placid Craft Brewing Company. The Pub opened in 1996 and continues as one of the most popular restaurants in Lake Placid, serving hungry customers and brewing almost a half-million pints of beer annually. Big Slide opened in June of 2016 and features 10 house beers brewed on their 3.5 barrel system and a farm-to-table menu. The Lake Placid Craft Brewing Company is a sister-company of the Pub and was founded in 2001. It brews, bottles, cans, and kegs the beer which is distributed outside of the brewpub. Beers from Lake Placid Craft Brewing, including Ubu Ale, Big Slide IPA, and Ubu’s Golden Ale are currently available throughout New York State and several other eastern US states.The brewery has twice been selected as The Best Craft Brewery In New York State and individual beers have won awards at beer festivals across the United States, including a Gold Medal for Giant IPA at this year’s NY Craft Beer Competition.Christopher grew up in southern Maine, and is a 1993 graduate of Williams College. He is a past two-year chairman of the Lake Placid/Essex County Visitors Bureau (ROOST), serving on the board for nine years, and was chairman of the Lake Placid branding project. He is also a founding officer in the New York State Craft Brewers Association. Prior to opening the Pub twenty-two years ago, he brewed for The Shed Restaurant & Brewery in Stowe, VT and Federal Jack’s Brewpub in Kennebunkport, Maine. He operates his businesses with his wife, Catherine, and their two children, Grace (12) and CJ (8).Why am I running for a seat on the BOD:As a founding member of the NYS Brewers Association, I have been working on issues pertaining to the craft beer industry in New York for almost twenty-two years. During that time we have seen explosive growth within the industry, and while the proliferation of great NY beer is exciting, it also comes with challenges, many of which are unforeseeable and unavoidable. Our organization, which began as a means to promote NY beer, has evolved into a political watchdog and active lobbying organization both for the issues we want to put forth as well as against the issues which may stifle our growth, including access to market. Our organization has been successful in making changes in the NY SLA which are the envy of almost every other state in the US, including passing the premier craft-friendly franchise legislation in the country. The development of the Farm Brewer license, the marriage of NY agriculture and NY beer, tax and paperwork relief, and the hiring of a full time Executive Director are other enormous achievements which have taken place. As a board member this entire time, and currently serving as Vice President and Treasurer of this organization, I humbly assert that I have been instrumental in these success stories alongside other members like Dave Katleski and Fred & Nick Matt. As a holder of a micro license and a farm brewer license, and operating two brewpubs and distributing our beer, I can see issues from several vantage points. My track record also shows that I have always acted for the good our industry, sometimes at the cost to my own business. My connections in Albany are strong and my connections to the brewers of New York are even stronger. I hope that the members of the NYSBA will honor me with re-election to this board so I can continue my work on their behalf.
Long Island Nominees:
Rich Vandenburgh – Greenport Harbor Brewing Company
Elected to the Board of Directors for the New York State Brewers Association in 2013, and serving as an officer to the Association in the capacity as Secretary. A life long beer enthusiast, Rich and best friend John Liegey founded Greenport Harbor Brewery in 2009 in an old firehouse located in the sea side harbor village of Greenport on the East End of Long Island. Greenport Harbor Brewery holds a Farm Brewing and Micro Brewing license and has two brewing locations on the North Fork that include a restaurant, beer garden and open lawns. Rich and John believe deeply in brewing every drop of their beer on the North Fork of Long Island and protecting the authenticity and integrity of the “Indy Craft” spirit. Greenport beer can be found throughout New York State and Conn. Rich, who is also an attorney, has an extensive background in real estate management and construction experience, having developed several other locally historic properties and architecturally significant sites. Rich also serves on local municipal agencies and other boards of community organizations and has lived with his wife, Ann and their two boys on the East End for more than 25 years.
Lauri Spitz – Moustache Brewing
Lauri Spitz is the co-founder along with her husband, Matthew Spitz, of Moustache Brewing Co. based in Riverhead, NY on the east end of Long Island. Opening their doors in 2014 they focus on educating guests and are committed to finding a beer for every palate by brewing a diverse selection of beers that cater to both non-craft drinkers and seasoned craft enthusiasts. Moustache Brewing Co. started as a one barrel brewery and is currently on a seven barrel system. They have seen continuous, growth and will be quadrupling their facility and production over the next year.
Lauri is highly committed to supporting the industry and working to improve the industry for all craft brewers. She lobbies in Albany with NYSBA and in DC with the Brewers Association. Lauri also sits on the board of the Long Island Brewers Guild, which aims to promote the craft breweries on Long Island as well as working together to support each other and the industry on Long Island. Through charitable giving and advocacy work she is able to fulfill the brewery’s mission of “…creating positive social and environmental changes in the world around us while influencing others to do the same. To do work that matters. Make a difference in people’s lives. Not tomorrow, but today.”
I would like to be a member of the the NYSBA board because I am passionate about working to create positive change that benefits our industry as a whole. Our industry would not be where it is today with out those who worked passionately to make the changes that we are able to benefit from and I would like to be able to do the same for the future.