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Joining a State Guild

07/22/2021 • Shawn Patrick

We’ve all heard that there is strength in numbers. This is true even for craft distillers. That is why there are craft distillers’ guilds in practically every state. These associations are designed to offer support to distillers who own craft distilleries and those looking to start their own distilleries. We will highlight the structure and membership details of joining a distiller’s guild. 

Benefits of Joining a Guild

Joining a distillers guild has its privileges. These groups are designed to operate as a support system for distillers in each state. Some of the benefits of joining a guild include:

  • Community – a community of like-minded crafters
  • Advocacy – legislative representation in your state
  • Relationships – build contacts and partnerships with other members
  • Education – learn from more experienced crafters
  • Support – get support in every aspect of your business
  • Discounted Goods – special offers from suppliers
  • Discounted Services – special offers from service providers
  • Events – seasonal and annual events 

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Guilds also provide resources and information regarding state-specific changes relating to Covid-19, DTC, and other hot topics in the industry at large. Guild members also have the opportunity to vote on the president & board members of the guild who would be responsible for leading the advocacy, support, and education pieces, among other responsibilities.

How to Join a Guild

The methods and costs associated with joining a craft distillers guild differ vastly from state to state. The process is typically straightforward. The membership fee may range from $250-$1,250 annually for licensed distillers. 

If you are interested in joining the guild in your state, visit the guild website to find out the terms, fees, and application process. There is usually a form to complete on the website. Your application will typically be reviewed before your membership is granted. 

Guild Membership Levels

Depending on the state and the guild, there are various levels of membership. These levels are based on the type of involvement. 

Some levels of membership that a guild may offer are:

  • Licensed Distiller – for licensed and operating distillery owners
  • Pre-Licensed Distiller – for soon-to-be licensed distillers
  • Associate Member – individuals or businesses looking for access to guild members
  • Enthusiast Member – membership for patrons to enjoy perks at member distilleries

All memberships are individual entities and will not include all of the levels of membership listed above. Many simply offer memberships for licensed, pre-licensed, and associate members. Find out from your state guild what levels of membership are available.

Guilds by Region

Northeastern US

Southern US

Midwestern US

Western US

If you are in a state that doesn’t have a guild, you can start one yourself with the guidance of ACSA. See the ACSA website for details on how to start your own state guild.

If you're a craft distiller that has not joined your state guild, hopefully, you now understand the benefits connected to obtaining membership. As a licensed distiller or a distiller in the process of securing your license, the support and comradery that a guild provides cannot be overstated. As a guild member you'll have a say in what the industry is advocating for, who the leadership is, and the ability to do more than simply connect with other distillers at trade shows. It's a community.