2019 ABL Top Shelf Award Presented to National Beer Wholesalers Association President & CEO Craig Purser

MARCH 26, 2019 – LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – American Beverage Licensees (ABL) recognized Craig Purser, President & CEO of the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), with the 2019 ABL Top Shelf Award at the association’s Honors Gala Monday night. The Gala was held in conjunction with ABL’s 17th Annual Meeting at Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The ABL Top Shelf Award is the highest honor presented by America’s independent beer, wine and spirits retailers, and recognizes those who have demonstrated professional excellence in the beverage alcohol industry and have had a positive influence in their community.

“I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Craig and NBWA for a number of years – both in my capacity as ABL President and as an ABL Board member for more than a decade,” said Steve Morris, President of American Beverage Licensees. “Craig has – time and again – demonstrated an unyielding commitment to his members, to the industry and to a strong Three-Tier System. On behalf of ABL, the board of directors and our nearly 15,000 members, we congratulate Craig on this great honor.”

Craig serves as the leading advocate for America’s more than 3,000 licensed, independent beer distributors. In this role, Craig is responsible for the strategic development and tactical execution of the association’s mission in the areas of government, public, industry and political affairs. He has led the charge to strengthen the Three-Tier System of beer distribution and state-based alcohol regulation.

During his 13-year tenure as NBWA president, Craig has been a consensus builder among industry partners, regulators, public health advocates and elected leaders. Under Craig’s leadership, NBWA worked with a wide variety of stakeholders to help Congress pass the Sober Truth on Preventing (STOP) Underage Drinking Act. This meaningful legislation emphasizes the primary responsibility of the states to regulate alcohol as afforded them by the 21st Amendment, addresses health and safety issues related to underage drinking and authorizes grants to support innovative efforts.

“Throughout Craig’s 22 years in the Beer Industry, he has worked with more than a dozen different alcohol trade association CEOs, has seen the leadership of every major U.S. brewery turn over – multiple times – and has member companies where he has worked with fathers, sons and grandsons all sharing the same name,” said Patrick Blach – President of Blach Distributing Company in Elko, Nevada and NBWA Board Treasurer. “Through good times and challenging ones, we’ve been blessed to have Craig steering the ship at NBWA.”

As with all Top Shelf Award recipients, community involvement has played a major role in Craig’s life – both personally and professionally. Craig served as a trustee for the Alcohol Beverage Medical Research Foundation and the Center for Alcohol Policy. He also serves as a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Association Committee of 100, the ASAE’s Key Industry Association Committee, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society Board of Trustees and served as chairman of the Bryce Harlow Foundation’s Board of Governors.

ABL congratulates Craig on his well-deserved award and thanks him for his continued commitment to the beverage alcohol industry and support of noble causes which seek to better the community.


American Beverage Licensees is the preeminent national trade association for beverage alcohol retailers. Direct retail beverage alcohol sales in the United States generate more than a 2.03 million well-paying jobs. ABL’s thousands of on-premise and off-premise licensee members are independent and often family-owned establishments. The beverage retailing industry pays over $27.9 billion in federal taxes and $20.0 billion in state and local taxes. To learn more about ABL, visit www.ablusa.org.