A Capitol Hill reporter is currently working on a Kickstarter campaign to bring together the two things that Washingtonians love most – politics and beer. Entitled “Bills and Brews,” the project consists of video interviews with members of Congress over craft beers from their home state, discussing everything from craft beer policy to pending legislation in an ultra casual environment.
“This web series can be a great introduction to politics, away from the partisanship,” Matt Laslo, the brain behind the Kickstarter told us in a phone interview. “When you sit down with lawmakers over a beer, they open up with jokes and anecdotes and become real people.”
Laslo certainly knows how to get Congress talking. He has been working in Washington for eight years covering Congress for a number of publications including WAMU 88.5. “I was thinking – how do you cut through the partisanship?” Laslo explained of how he came up for “Bills and Brews.” After attending a craft brewers conference he noticed that a number of lawmakers were extremely passionate about the wonderful craft beers being produced in their home states. After filming his first episode of “Bills and Brews” for Kickstarter, Laslo was immediately inundated with other members of Congress wanting to participate.
For lawmakers, craft brewing policy is an important new subject they are just becoming versed in as microbreweries gain popularity. Groups such as the Brewers Association have spent time lobbying on Capitol Hill on issues important to small batch beer producers. Last summer the group’s lobbying efforts paid off with the introduction of The Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act, which would lower the tax rate on microbreweries producing less than 60,000 barrels.
“Craft beer is both tasty and intricate,” Laslo explained of the growing popularity of microbreweries. ‘The coolest thing is the creativity behind the production of craft beer. And now people are seeing a growing market for it.” Laslo went on to explain the culture of entrepreneurship that exists among America’s microbrewers, a spirit that members of Congress are eager to support. “People who enjoy craft beers are contemplative and intelligent,” he said. “They are the people who are sick of the same political arguments.”
You can watch Laslo’s first “Bills and Brews” interview with Representative Peter DeFazio below. And if you want to see “Bills and Brews” become a regular series, be sure to donate to the Kickstarter. Laslo still needs to raise $20,000 in the next five days, a goal we’re hopeful he’ll reach, especially considering Washington’s penchant for both drinking and policy making.