Why We Should Care About Our Heritage

​I always love the month of January. More than any other month, January epitomizes the spirit of renewal and resolutions
for self-improvement. For MBAA, we begin the departure from our milestone 125th anniversary year and commit to, well,
a milestone 126th year! We have never been healthier. Membership is up significantly. We have launched our new
website. The Beer Steward Program (among many others) continues to be a phenomenal success. And on a more
personal “heritage note”, I have had five districts express interest in establishing district heritage chairs.
 
For me, the spirit of renewal ironically conjures up renewed thinking about the past…about heritage. Now, understandably,
one might ask, “Why should we care about our heritage? Why do history and heritage even matter? After all, on a
day-to-day basis, our members live and work in the present, and they spend a significant amount of their precious
productive time worrying about and preparing for the future. The “present” and the “future” are their primary concerns. So,
why does “heritage” matter at all?”
 
Our national heritage offers a window into our origins, allowing us to glimpse the original intentions of our founders. It is
about our very reason for existence. Those founders offered us a firm foundation of principles on which to build. Like any
proud pedigree or honorable family genealogy, awareness of that heritage bestows upon us a sense of who we are and
how we got to be what we are. Those historical and enduring core values have guided the thinking and steered the
actions of each ensuing generation of leadership. They have reminded us, generation after generation, that there are
many sides to every question and to any issue or concern that has faced our industry.
 
It is also enormously fulfilling to participate in your local district. Beyond serving to remind all of us of the importance of
bigger-picture citizenship, hands-on local heritage is especially rewarding. In an ever-changing, smartphoned, iPadded,
instant-access, future-obsessed world, there is solace in all things “local”. Local heritage is the patchwork quilt of
everything we call “home”. It celebrates our home landscape, our skyline, that one particular river meandering through
town, that nearby mountain, the hometown university, an enduring city landmark, a prominent church steeple. And of
course, local heritage celebrates our local breweries, their beers, and…their brewers!
 
This past year, the hands-on heritage of our local breweries has been a source of tremendous joy for me personally.
Some of these experiences I shared in The MBAA Communicator. Now I am exploring how MBAA can perhaps be of
some additional help in offering local support. Looking ahead to a “next level” local recognition program, I believe there
are many breweries throughout our local districts that have earned the right to some sort of designation as an MBAA
Heritage Brewery. This possibility was actually suggested to me by fellow committee member Andy Tveekrem, and I
thought the idea was brilliant. The new designation could be earned based upon several possibilities: perhaps celebrating
the sheer age and upkeep of historically unique structures, rewarding the unwavering and ongoing dedication to a
timeless brewing recipe, or recognizing the importance of continuous family ownership over multiple generations. I am
certain that we could create much more criteria for recognition.
 
But what better way to extend the uniqueness of our 125-year MBAA heritage than by establishing an MBAA Heritage
Brewery designation. Again, I loved the idea, especially for what it brings to the local districts. I think that it is something to
explore further. Let me know what you think.
 
Like I said, I always love the spirit of renewal that January brings. Resolutions, possibility thinking, and heritage
awareness all go equally hand-in-hand.
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