Will Work for Beer

Dream job: McGreevy heads Beer Institute.
National Journal
Christopher Snow Hopkins
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Christopher Snow Hopkins
May 19, 2014, 8 a.m.

For James A. Mc­Greevy III, the new pres­id­ent and CEO of the Beer In­sti­tute, the bever­age is part of his her­it­age.

In 1934, one year after the re­peal of Pro­hib­i­tion, Mc­Greevy’s grand­fath­er con­ver­ted the fam­ily barn in New Jer­sey in­to a road­house. Mc­Greevy’s Tav­ern, as it was called, was in op­er­a­tion for 60 years. (It is now a Por­tuguese res­taur­ant.)

As head of the Beer In­sti­tute, Mc­Greevy will seek to uni­fy an in­dustry renowned for cen­tury-old rival­ries and fierce com­pet­i­tion. Dur­ing an in­ter­view at the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s suite of of­fices last week, he sipped what ap­peared to be a la­ger, al­though the dip­lo­mat­ic ex­ec­ut­ive de­clined to identi­fy his fa­vor­ite beer. “I don’t know if I can say,” Mc­Greevy said, ges­tur­ing to an ar­ray of some 25 beers in the In­sti­tute’s board­room. “I like all beers.”

Mc­Greevy, who was in­tro­duced to the Beer In­sti­tute’s board at the an­nu­al mem­ber­ship meet­ing on May 13, will rep­res­ent brew­ers and im­port­ers on tax­a­tion, reg­u­la­tion, and a host of policy mat­ters. One is­sue of con­cern is a troubled alu­min­um in­dustry.

“Right now, the alu­min­um mar­ket is com­pletely dys­func­tion­al for the end users,” he said. “That has cre­ated a lot of ad­ded costs for users. If you crack open a can of beer, you wouldn’t think that there’s an is­sue with how the can be­came a can, but that’s a very big prob­lem.”

Ac­cord­ing to a joint study by the Beer In­sti­tute and the Na­tion­al Beer Whole­salers As­so­ci­ation, the beer in­dustry totaled about $247 bil­lion in 2012. Apart from ma­jor brew­ers such as Miller­Co­ors and An­heuser-Busch, the Beer In­sti­tute rep­res­ents about 80 com­pan­ies, which to­geth­er sup­port more than 2 mil­lion jobs.

Suds also gen­er­ates a vast sum of pub­lic dol­lars. In 2012, the in­dustry paid more than $49 bil­lion in busi­ness, per­son­al, and con­sump­tion taxes.

Mc­Greevy, who does not of­fi­cially start un­til June 23, was most re­cently seni­or vice pres­id­ent of gov­ern­ment af­fairs at the Amer­ic­an Bever­age As­so­ci­ation. He takes over from Joe Mc­Clain, who va­cated the top post in Decem­ber.

Born in North­ern New Jer­sey, Mc­Greevy was raised where “polit­ics was al­ways noise in the back­ground,” he said. His fath­er was a health in­spect­or for the city of Ne­wark and his uncle was the may­or of Bel­leville.

Mc­Greevy stud­ied so­ci­ology at Seton Hall Uni­versity with the in­ten­tion of be­com­ing a po­lice of­ficer but later de­cided on law school as a way in­to polit­ics. After gradu­at­ing from the Uni­versity of Bridge­port Law School, he worked for a year in the Man­hat­tan Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice be­fore head­ing to Saint Paul, Minn., as an aide to then-state Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Ro­ger D. Moe. From 1999 to 2005, Mc­Greevy was an as­so­ci­ate with law firm Lar­kin Hoff­man in Min­nesota.

Apart from his leg­al prac­tice, Mc­Greevy has peri­od­ic­ally ven­tured in­to polit­ics. He served as North­east Pennsylvania field dir­ect­or for the 1992 Clin­ton-Gore pres­id­en­tial cam­paign, as deputy fin­ance dir­ect­or for Hubert “Skip” Humphrey’s 1998 gubernat­ori­al cam­paign, and, fi­nally, as a lead ad­vance per­son for the 2004 Kerry-Ed­wards pres­id­en­tial cam­paign.

Mc­Greevy, 49, moved to Wash­ing­ton in 2005 when his wife, Rachel Mc­Greevy, was hired by the In­ter­na­tion­al Coun­cil of Shop­ping Cen­ters. (She is now a lob­by­ist at Mas­ter­Card.) They live in D.C. and have a 6-year-old daugh­ter, Eliza­beth. “We pretty much do whatever she wants,” he said.

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