Like any good dinner host, DC area brewers are breaking out the fine china and sprucing up their places in preparation for the industry’s descent upon the Nation’s Capital for this year’s Craft Brewers Conference. It’s a big deal for the region’s craft brewers, and they’re making every effort to be welcoming. From brewing special CBC beers to gearing up for technical seminars, all manner of preparations are underway to make the event memorable and to showcase the area’s players.
The CBC will give DC brewers access to industry giants and other valuable resources, and the area’s established brewers are eager to take full advantage. “It’s very humbling to see our name listed along with the industry greats,” said Justin Cox of Atlas Brew Works. Justin and co-owner Will Durgin plan on splitting their time between technical brewing lectures and classes on business and marketing. Likewise, DC Brau owners Brandon Skall and Jeff Hancock have their eyes on brewing science and growth management seminars.
And the industry will have a chance to learn from local brewers too. Bill Butcher, founder of Port City Brewing Company in Alexandria, VA, will be giving a CBC talk on financing options for startup breweries along with a panel consisting of Port City’s commercial banker, a V.P. from The Business Finance Group who helped put their financing deal together, and a V.P. from the Small Business Administration.
Area brewers are also stocking up on merchandise and calling all hands on deck in preparation for the visiting masses that will be touring the city the last week in March. DC Brau has hired additional staff to man their brewery and is upping their cache of glasses and other branded items for old and new fans alike. Atlas Brew Works is viewing the CBC as an enormous coming-out opportunity for their soon-to-open brewery and they’re making sure they have plenty of stickers, bottle openers, and T-shirts at the ready. As Bill Butcher from Port City put it, “We expect a very busy, lively week in our brewery with our doors open for locals as well as everyone in the industry. It should be a great time to meet and greet great beer people!”
And yes, there will be plenty of meeting and greeting – Baying Hound Aleworks owner Paul Rinehart said that the conference will be a huge opportunity to connect with as many other brewers as possible. DC Brau will be working with reps from the Craft Brewers Association and other area brewers to hold an inaugural DC Brewers Guild meeting. Atlas Brew Works (which has ties to Portland, Oregon) said they’re also looking forward to connecting with brewers and industry friends from the West Coast during the CBC.
But the fun won’t just be limited to “industry-only” events – there will be tons of craft beer events going on that are open to all. Breweries will be hosting a number of tours, including six separate (and now sold out) regional bus tours that cover DC, Maryland, Virginia, and even Delaware. The Capitol Area Tour will hit DC Brau, 3 Stars Brewing Company, Chocolate City Beer, Bluejacket in the District, and Growlers and Franklins in Maryland.
Area brewers will also be showing up at bars and restaurants around the city. DC’s Smith Commons will be presenting four nights of events they’ve named Masters of the Craft Beer Universe. A mash-up of craft beer and the 80’s cartoon “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” the event runs from Tuesday the 26th through Friday the 29th and promises to bring together some of the DC area’s best brewers from 7-10 pm nightly. Stillwater Artisanal Ale’s Brian Strumke will be attending on Tuesday night. Mike McGarvey and Dave Coleman from 3 Stars Brewing Company will be part of Wednesday night’s presentation. Flying Dog’s Jim Caruso & Matt Brophy will be part of Thursday night’s activities, as will the boys from Atlas Brew Works. Finally, Friday night’s CBC Closing Party at Smith Commons is being co-sponsored by American Craft Beer.com and promises to be a send-off of epic proportions that must not be missed.
Clearly, the Craft Brewers Conference is a huge event, and the industry’s spotlight will be focused squarely on Washington, DC that last week in March. For the region’s brewers, this is a massive opportunity to showcase what they do, as well as to network with craft beer’s best and brightest, and they are stepping up big-time to take full advantage.