Former lawyer trades in patents for pints to lead state guild

February 23, 2012
By Chris Saunders
Photo by Richard Mitchell.

Photo by Richard Mitchell.

Win Bassett ’07 doesn’t brew much beer himself, but he does have a trait required for his new position as executive director of the North Carolina Brewers Guild, a nonprofit organization made up of artisan brewers, vendors and retailers.

“I’m happy drinking other people’s beer,” he says.

A former patent lawyer and assistant district attorney in Wake County, Bassett took over his new position for the guild last week. Instead of sitting behind a desk drowning himself in legalese, he now travels around the state, representing 58 breweries and their interests.

As he rattles off his list of things he wants to accomplish for the guild, it’s evident Bassett won’t be able to abandon his taste for law. Many of those breweries’ interests are legislative in nature.

For instance, Bassett says he’s committed to passage of  the Small BREW Act, which now awaits a vote by both houses of Congress. (He wrote an editorial on the matter in The News & Observer.)  Bassett says the act would cut by 50 percent the excise tax rate on small U.S. breweries on their first 60,000 barrels of beer sold each year.

Bassett says he would also like to see North Carolina adopt “more friendly beer laws”  that would allow brewers to invest more money in their operations, hire more employees, purchase new equipment and pay for their employees’ benefits.

Bassett, who was a Park Scholar and engineering student at NC State, isn’t a registered lobbyist. He’s just a 26-year-old who’s passionate about beer. That passion came about when he tasted his first craft beer, a Rogue Dead Guy Ale, at trivia night in Tyler’s Tap Room in Carrboro, N.C., when he was in law school.

“Previously, I’d been turned off by beer,” he says, “but I tasted it and was like, ‘So this is what I’ve been missing.'”

Bassett began writing about beer and brewing issues — even starting his own beer blog, NCBrewing.org. He also serves as education coordinator and a writer for All About Beer Magazine.

Bassett says it’s a great time to have so much of his professional life tied to the craft brewing industry, which has been thriving despite the difficult economic times. “It’s about the community, the people behind the beer,” Bassett says. “Every beer has a good story.”

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