The Legal Eagle

Looking back on the beer industry over the past decades, it is difficult to grasp the number of changes that have taken place. Changes which have affected all three tiers. One change that has become an almost daily function is the importance that lawyers play in navigating the business. While it is quite common for large, multi-state wholesalers to have in-house counsel, many smaller wholesalers and craft brewers must employ outside legal help. This has created an added expense since many lawyers are unfamiliar with the federal and state laws, coupled with a lack of knowledge of the inner workings of the beer industry.

I met Steve Goldrainer in 2006, when starting as President of Warsteiner Importers Agency. At that time, Steve was the compliance attorney for the agency.  Even then, Steve was part of a vanishing breed in the beer industry. He had begun his professional career on the docks at Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewery in Cincinnati. He started working at the brewery loading trucks, sweeping, and washing the brewery floors. Over time Steve was able to work his way up thru the ranks to become the Import/Export Operations Manager. As the brewery grew and expanded, Steve became more involved in the legal requirements of each state and realized that there was a true need for in-house counsel. He applied for and was accepted into law school and after graduation and started the legal department at Schoenling. Because he had worked in many facets of the brewery, Steve had an increased understanding of the industry’s inner workings. This was obviously created a win-win for both parties.

When Schoenling Brewery closed, Steve set out on his own and in 1998, founded, Keldon Consulting where he specialized in compliance law for importers, brewers, craft start-ups, spirits, and wineries. With his background in the beer industry, coupled with his law degree, Steve established strong relationships with the TTB office and was frequently able to expedite or even hand-walk label approvals, as necessary. His guidance proved invaluable to his clients. Steve’s business expanded quickly, and today Keldon employs 11 professionals who handle the legal requirements for states now including states that have legalized marijuana.

Unfortunately, Steve’s life took a dramatic turn while driving home one day. At an intersection, he was hit by a car speeding from a Dollar store robbery. Though he survived the car crash, Steve’s injuries were catastrophic and resulted in severe bodily injuries. While eventually able to return to work, the crash injuries have taken a toll on Steve’s overall health and he has decided to begin the retirement stage in January of 21.

Outside of the beer industry, Steve and his family have a long history of military service and his family has work tirelessly in supporting veterans. Beer and veterans are Steve’s passions.

Steve’s understanding of the beer industry and its inner workings were the key not only to Warsteiner success, but that of many other beer companies in the industry.  Though he is retiring, Steve will keep his finger in the industry. This is a good thing. It is rare to have someone with Steve’s experience helping the many beer companies in need.

Steve Goldrainer, the legal eagle!

2020 – Steve Goldrainer – Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewery/Lawyer

2019 = Jim Cline – Rogue Ales

2018 – Ray Teutsch – AB Distributor

2017 – Charles M. Duke, Jr. – Coors Distributor

2016 – Carter S. Huber – Schlitz/Miller

2015 – Albert Jaenicke – Hops

2014 – R.D. Hubbard – Coors Distributor

2013 – George Henricksen – Royal Imports

2012 – Diane Fall – Warsteiner







One response to “The Legal Eagle”

  1. Chris Amaral Avatar
    Chris Amaral

    Great story on Steve. Thank you sharing and keeping these stories alive for so many industry professionals to read.

    Geoff, I trust you and your family are well and healthy. I hope that you have a great Holiday Season and here’s to having another cold beer together in the very near future!


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