In 2011, Sten wanted to create a brewery that could be dedicated to helping start-up and growing breweries expand their operations. However, at the time, contract brewing was not possible in Virginia due to state law. Sten along with his friend, Neil Burton from Strangeways Brewing, worked to change those laws through networking and negotiation with local government officials. Around the same time, the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild was working to change the law preventing brewery taproom sales. Sten realized that it might have been easier to combine forces with the Guild. Thus, a beautiful partnership was born! Sten began attending meetings and educational seminars and has now been an active member of the Guild leadership for over five years.
Excited to lead, he first became Co-Chair of the Government Affairs Committee in May 2015 and served that position for one year. From May 2016 to June 2018 he served as the Vice Chair, and in June 2018, Sten became Chair. On Monday, September 2nd, 2020 Sten stepped down as chair and was re-elected as Co-Chair of Government affairs committee. “I’m glad to be receiving the torch from Sten after serving for two years,” said new Chair, Janell Zurschmeide of Dirt Farm Brewing, “We are thankful for his service and dedication to our members.”
During his time as Chair, Sten and the Guild achieved multiple goals that have benefited the Virginia craft brewing industry. Sten has been involved in all the Guild’s Hill Climbs to advocate for craft breweries. Licensing fees have not been raised at all and some even managed to be lowered.
While Sten may have originally gotten involved with the Guild to make Beltway Brewing Company work as a business, he had the insight to see people in similar situations and realized he wanted to be able to affect positive change for all craft breweries.
“Learning and sharing with other brewers and breweries has made being Chair an amazing experience,” Sten reflected, “Without being involved in the Guild, Beltway wouldn’t have existed. I’ve learned through this experience that we can’t take our current environment for granted. We as brewers have an obligation to be vigilant and help each other.”
There will always be challenges for Virginia craft brewers, but Sten plans to be there to “look out for the little guy” through collaboration, innovation, and education.