Cheers to 21 Years!

Susan Haney, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at the Beer Institute 

This month I celebrate 21 years of working for the Beer Institute. In the beer business, 21 years is a special number because it is one of the most coveted and celebrated milestones for an individual – the day you can enjoy your first alcohol beverage as a legal-aged drinking adult.

The term “coming of age” comes to mind when I think of the number 21, so today, I share some of the memories, words of wisdom, experiences and people who help make beer one of the best industries in the world.

If You Love What You Do, It’s Not Work

In my early 20s, I moved to Washington, D.C., not fully understanding what a lobbyist is, how trade associations operate or what politics had to do with beer; I just thought it would be fun to live and work in the nation’s capital. I vividly remember sitting in my interview with Jeff Becker, the Beer Institute president at the time, listening to him talk with so much passion and enthusiasm about the beer business. Those who knew Jeff knew he was a straight shooter and a genuine “beer guy.” He loved talking about beer and lamenting how many taxes beer drinkers pay. We talked about how men dominated the beer business, and I always said, “I’m not worried; I grew up with three brothers.”

Jeff was not only a beer advocate through and through; he was a mentor and friend who taught me about loyalty, the importance of cultivating relationships and using every opportunity to its fullest. Two things he always said that have stuck with me all these years are “if you love what you do, it’s not work,” and “thank you notes; they are a lasting impression.” Through action, Jeff consistently showed the Beer Institute staff and the industry the power beer has to bring people together.

Brewing Quality Beer is a Perfect Science!

Brewing beer is a perfect science, and it starts with our great partners. During my time in the beer industry, I’ve met people across the country working at all levels of the brewing process. I’ve toured hops farms in the Yakima Valley and harvested barley in Sunburst, Montana. I’ve learned how molten glass becomes a bottle in Toano, Virginia and how cansheet transforms into aluminum cans in Golden, Colorado. I’ve spent time with colleagues learning to brew beer and met first-hand with the hardworking men and women who make the cold, refreshing brews that we all enjoy every day. Beer is a thriving and competitive industry – more than two million people owe their livelihood to the beer industry, contributing more than $331 billion to the U.S. economy.

I owe some of my most memorable experiences from the past 21 years to working in this industry, but more than anything, I owe many lifelong friendships to beer. Beer brought us together and continues to be a part of our lives, regardless of where we are now. If I’ve learned anything about beer, it’s that there is a beer for every occasion and an occasion for every beer! So today, I raise a glass to 21 years in an industry I love!


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