The Beer Institute announced the hiring of Chris Thorne as vice president of communications for the trade association, whose members produce more than 90 percent of beer consumed in the U.S.
Thorne, a Capitol Hill veteran and a former reporter, will lead the Beer Institute’s communications strategy directed at policymakers, the alcohol beverage industry, the media, and other stakeholders. Thorne was hired as the industry faces challenges including a slow economy, impending tax and regulatory issues, and threats to the three-tier system of distribution.
“The Beer Institute is excited to welcome Chris and his wealth of experience and knowledge of the legislative and regulatory process that impacts our industry every day,” says Joe McClain, president of the Beer Institute. “Having worked in the fast paced worlds of both the media and Capitol Hill, Chris’ strategic thinking, political savvy, and communications skills will greatly benefit our effort to deliver the beer industry’s message.”
“I’m honored to be going to work for beer,” Thorne says. “I see beer as an innovative and iconic industry, creating jobs and driving local economies across the country. Brewers and importers face a lot of challenges today. But I look forward to working with our members to develop and implement a communications strategy that helps address those challenges and tells the story of this great industry.”
Thorne, 44, served more than seven years in the communications office of Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), including four years as communications director, before taking over as chief media and political strategist for Conrad, the Senate Budget Committee Chairman.
Before his years spent on Capitol Hill, Thorne was a reporter for the Associated Press, where he covered banking, manufacturing, farming, energy, and politics. Most recently, Thorne was director of public affairs for growth energy, a trade association representing U.S. ethanol producers, where he oversaw national advertising, media relations, and marketing, including American Ethanol’s partnership with NASCAR.
The beer industry continues to be a driver of job creation and economic impact. The latest “Beer Serves America” data show that the industry includes more than 1,800 brewer and importer establishments, 3,300 beer distributor facilities, and 547,000 beer-selling retail establishments.
The industry directly and indirectly employs approximately 1.8 million Americans. In 2011, beer sales rose 2 percent to more than $98 billion, the largest share of revenue and volume within the alcohol beverage sector.