COLUMN WRITTEN BY MATT BRASCH
For Digital First Media
Just like every other industry, craft brewers in the United States have an industry organization — the Brewers Association. Once a year, members of the Brewers Association meet for a business conference named “The Craft Brewers Conference,” or “CBC” for short. In recent years, the CBC has been held in Portland, Oregon (2015), Denver, Colorado (2014), and Washington D.C. (2013), but this year, CBC 2016 will be held in Philadelphia from May 3 – 6.
As described on the Craft Brewers Conference website, “The Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) is the only industry event that serves both brewpubs and packaging breweries. This is an annual show that travels to different cities each year. For professional brewers, CBC is the number one environment in North America for concentrated, affordable brewing education and idea sharing to improve brewery quality and performance. The conference is also a great social event with 10,000+ brewing industry professionals enjoying craft brews together.” www.craftbrewersconference.com
The Brewers Association chose Philadelphia for this year’s CBC because of our passion for beer. As explained by Barbara Fusco, Sales & Marketing Director at the Brewers Association, “In addition to having the capacity to host our event of 12,000+ attendees, Philadelphia has an outstanding beer culture. The city has great bars that celebrate the heritage of many of the world’s brewing cultures. The craft beer bar culture in Philadelphia ranks high in the U.S. Many attendees will have favorite haunts, and awesome new bars are constantly emerging.”
During the conference, brewers from across the country will take part in educational sessions. There are a total of 74 sessions across 11 different tracks — “Brewery Operations,” “Brewpubs,” “Export Development,” “Government Affairs,” “Packaging Breweries,” “Quality,” “Safety,” “Selling Craft Beer,” “Start-Ups,” “Sustainability” and “Technical Brewing.” In addition to the educational sessions, the brewers will be able to look at the products and services from more than 830 exhibitors in the CBC trade show, “BrewExpo America.” From brewing equipment manufacturers to hop farmers to attorneys who represent the craft beer industry, there will be something for every brewer at the trade show.
One of the brewers attending CBC 2016 is Christian Ryan, Production Manager for Albany, New York-based Shmaltz Brewing Co. Ryan is looking forward to CBC for a few reasons, “The seminars are incredibly informative and relevant. You get the information and get to discuss with hundreds of people the top topics of the day.” The interaction with other brewers is important to Ryan because he gets to see “…the people I haven’t gotten to talk to in a long time, and actually meet the people that I’ve only spoken to remotely.” Of course, he plans to visit several of our local breweries while he is in town.
From a local standpoint, the CBC is a wonderful opportunity to show the rest of the brewing industry something we all know very well — that Philadelphia is a fantastic beer drinking city. In fact, seven of our local breweries (Yards, Victory, Sly Fox, Iron Hill, Flying Fish, Stoudt’s and Troegs) created a collaboration beer exclusively for the CBC and Philly Beer Week in June. The first taste of the beer — a Ryebock Lager named “Brotherly Suds No. 7” — will be had on May 3 during a private media event at Johnny Brenda’s where the brewmasters from all seven breweries will be on hand to answer questions about the beer and their thoughts on the CBC.
While the educational sessions and trade show at CBC are closed to the public, restaurants and bars throughout the region will be holding events to show the visiting brewers why Philadelphia is the best beer drinking city in America! Beer pairing dinners, special releases of beer never before seen in Philadelphia (like Wicked Weed from Asheville, North Carolina), and “CBC editions” of beer tours by Philly Brew Tours (tickets available at www.phillybrewtours.com) will all provide the public with plenty of opportunities to meet and talk with your favorite brewers from around the country. Follow the link under “Week Events” tab at the top of the CBC website to find out about other events happening that week. And don’t forget to follow me (@thebrewholder) on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in real time as I cover #CBC2016! Cheers!