Love local beer? Prove it. While 2015 has been a banner year for craft beer in Los Angeles — filled with new breweries opening, new bottles on shelves and the first major buyout — the Los Angeles County Brewers Guild is still in its infancy, operating behind the scenes to advocate for the growing needs of the county's 30-plus member breweries.
Last week, the nonprofit, whose main public outreach consists of organizing L.A. Beer Week, launched its Enthusiast Memberships, which gives early-bird access and discounts to local beer events as well as official LABG swag. For $45 a year, you can support the 2-year-old guild (and, thus, your local brewers) while receiving tons of perks in return.
"In a nutshell, we wanted to offer opportunities for our brewers to engage with craft beer lovers beyond L.A. Beer Week," says LABG executive director Frances Lopez. "This program, similar to other guild memberships in other states, is designed with the consumer in mind."
Consumer-based, non-voting memberships are an increasingly common offering for regional and state brewers guilds, which exist to protect and promote their breweries through education and events.
Within the last few years, Michigan, North Carolina and Texas have all launched their own "enthusiast" or "fanatic" memberships. In California's craft beer capital, the San Diego Brewers Guild started offering memberships to its Craft Beer Coalition in 2013 — $25 gets you discounts on official San Diego Beer Week events, a beer coozie and more.
The L.A. Brewers Guild is charging a bit more for membership, but it's throwing more into the deal. In addition to the usual early invites and discounts to official events (of which Lopez says there will be many more in 2016), the LABG Enthusiasts Membership includes a merch package of stickers, buttons and glassware, as well as 25 percent off more merch once the online store launches next year.
Once the guild launches its trade membership levels for retailers and vendors in the next month, there is also the potential for a wider discount program similar to KCRW's Fringe Benefits, Lopez says. That could include discounts on growler fills at local tasting rooms, access to food specials at local bars and discounts on beer tours. El Segundo, Smog City, Monkish, Wolf Creek and Eagle Rock breweries have already confirmed participation, which could include flash sales and early access to releases.
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Through Jan. 1, memberships are being offered at a discounted holiday presale rate for the first 250 people.
"We want L.A. beer to be a household name," Lopez says.