Roxanne Westendorf of Cincinnati recently was named to the Brewers Association Board of Directors. Westendorf, a retired development engineer from Proctor & Gamble and part-time worker with Rivertown Brewing Co., also is serving as president of the Bloatarian Brewing League. She credits Randy Mosher with getting her and her husband more involved in the craft industry beyond the local level.
Question: First off, congratulations on being named to the Brewers Association Board of Directors. How did that come about and what was your initial reaction to the appointment?
Answer: The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) – which is part of the BA, seats two people on the BA board. These seats come from the AHA Governing Committee. I was elected to the AHA Governing Committee in 2008, and currently serve as the chair of that committee. The Governing Committee elects its representatives to the board. I ran this past year, and was elected by the GC to fill this seat.
My initial reaction was a combination of excitement and trepidation. There are so many great people on the board, and I was excited to be working with them. They are also industry greats, so I was humbled and just a bit nervous about making sure I was filling the role in a way that would provide benefit. Everyone on the board was incredibly welcoming, and I am very excited about being a part of the amazing group.
Q: What does the board do?
A: The board shapes the policy for the Brewers Association – which is the trade association for craft brewers. The purpose of the BA is to promote and protect American craft brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. Board members have the duty of care and loyalty, which means that we strive to do what is best for broadest swath of our members.
We meet in person four times per year to discuss key topics. We also spend a lot of time doing committee work – usually via email and phone. The Brewers Association defines a craft brewer as:
-- Small: Annual production of beer less than 6 million barrels.
-- Independent: less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by a beverage alcohol industry member which is not itself a craft brewer.
-- Traditional: A brewer which has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavors derive from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation.
The board has a diverse membership, including four women and two members with Hispanic heritage. The membership includes members from production breweries, brewpubs, taprooms and a state guild executive. Breweries range from very established to relatively new breweries.
Q: What’s your specific role and what do you hope to accomplish while serving?
A: Going into my first meeting, I was just hoping to be able to learn and figure out what my area of contribution could be. I know that going into anything, I can find a way to contribute, but I don’t always know what it is.
I thought that the combination of my AHA Governing Committee experience and experiences from my 31 years at Procter &Gamble would provide the background for how I could contribute. I guess I jumped in with both feet, and ended up on two committees in my first meeting.
One is an ad-hoc committee where my P&G consumer and market expertise is critical. The second is a diversity committee where we need to be able to ensure that the AHA and BA work are complementary.
Q: You’ve been around the Cincinnati craft beer scene for awhile. Which breweries are on your must-visit list for craft beer drinkers visiting the Queen City and why?
A: Tough question! I guess I’d tell folks to make sure they hit both some of the “older” breweries and the newer ones. After that – it partly depends upon the types of beers they love.
Rivertown and MadTree both have great new places that are fun to visit, and the [Moerlein] Lager House is a great venue with their own beers and many guest taps. We have two restored churches (Taft’s Ale House and Urban Artifact). We have community gathering places like Rhinegeist and small neighborhood bars like Listermann, Blank Slate, Woodburn and one of our newest breweries – Brink Brewing Co. I’d also encourage folks to make a trip across the river to Braxton and Wooden Cask.
It’s hard to narrow down to just a few – but also hard to go wrong when visiting our local breweries. Apologies to those that I didn’t add to the list – we are at 40 breweries and still growing in the Cincinnati area!
We do have two companies in town that do brewery tours (Cincy Brew Bus and Craft Connection) – they are a great option to visit four breweries without driving!
Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?
A: Wow – this is a tough question. I went through a lot of options to get to this one – but finally settled on Rodenbach Alexander (the original one). It was a masterpiece that took about four years to be ready and combines a rich, malty base beer with hundred-plus year old barrels and cherries. Alexander required patience to brew, was brewed despite the costs of time and ingredients, and had masterfully blended flavors.
I feel like it is a beer that required an artist, brewer and chef to create. I have been fortunate to share a very few bottles of the original, and still have one from the late '90s that I found in a bottle museum in Belgium. The new version is good – but I’m not sure anything can recreate the memory of the original.
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