Meet Andres Gil Zaldana, New Executive Director of the Colorado Brewers Guild
It’s not often you can refer to a DC insider as an outsider, but such is the case for Andres Gil Zaldana, the Colorado Brewers Guild’s (CBG) newly named Executive Director. Zaldana, who previously served with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and as an attorney in private practice, is a newcomer to working in the craft beer industry.
“My background with beer has been an enthusiast first and foremost,” noted Zaldana. “I discovered craft beer when I was an undergrad at UVA. Once you start, you just cant stop.”
While the East Coast native and son to Columbian immigrants may not have spent any time working in the taproom, his experience as a lobbyist and helping trade associations and private clients with finance, tax, and regulatory relief, will serve a more significant role in building legislative and financial support to the CBG membership base.
Last June, 14 member breweries splintered from the CBG to start a separate interest group titled Craft Beer Colorado, citing “a need for better legislative and regulatory leadership, a culture lacking of information control and director behavior that was the opposite of transparent, and an out-dated articles of incorporation that allowed participation from Macro-owned breweries.”
However, those breweries officially rejoined the CBG in November after John Carlson, the previous part-time Executive Director stepped down and the organization voted to strip Anheuser-Busch InBev owned Breckenridge of voting rights.
“The Guild went through a lot last year, but we learned a lot too,” noted Zaldana. “I think the most important piece is that we need to have an active membership and we need an enthusiastic, active staff in order to actually move forward and make the guild as good as it can actually be.”
Zaldana plans to address concerns on transparency by traveling across the state to hear directly from his membership of brewery owners. He also plans to enact more frequent communication meetings, as well as forming a technical committee to help better educate its member breweries.
From a legislative standpoint, the new face of the CBG has already notched a major achievement as the House and Senate passed the first piece of guild-led legislation to be enacted into law. The bill addresses lessening the severity and preventing the suspension of manufacturing and wholesale activities based on taproom related violations. “As it currently stands, the Liquor Enforcement Division technically has the right to completely suspend a brewery’s manufacturers or wholesale activities if they find a taproom violation severe enough. This kind of suspension of activity could have catastrophic impact on a small or mid-sized brewery,” noted Zaldana.
“Craft beer has a voice, and it’s being heard more and more on a national level coming from the DC world.”
While Zaldana may be an outsider to the industry, he already recognizes the strength and diversity of Colorado’s craft landscape. “When you go to a brewery anywhere in the state you’ll have an entirely different experience, whether it’s on the plains, in the mountains or the cities, they’re all set in different landscapes and require different needs, but we have breweries still making great beer, that’s what sets Colorado apart.” Additionally Zaldana notes that while he can’t play favorites to any Colorado breweries he has had a strong influence from East Coast favorites like SweetWater, Terrapin and Atlas Brewing, DC Brau and Allagash, just to name a few. So while he may not have been employed by craft beer previously, Zaldana is no stranger to the industry as a whole.
“Craft beer has a voice, and it’s being heard more and more on a national level coming from the DC world. People are realizing that it’s an incredible boom to the local economy and it’s an important part of our culture,” said Zaldana.