The 2015 Craft Brewer’s Conference Wrap Up

, The 2015 Craft Brewer’s Conference Wrap UpWe’re still recovering from a wonderful week in Portland, Oregon, hanging out with our industry friends at this year’s CBC. Our favorite yearly convention was insightful on so many levels, and as usual, we had too much fun. Having covered this annual event for a number of years, one can’t help but reflect on how this conference has grown and what that says about the state of our industry.

So some musings on the week that was…

Major Props Are Due to the Brewers Association

We’re big fans of the Brewers Association – they’re friends and an invaluable resource for our industry – and as most of you know, the organizers and presenters of this massive annual event. This year’s CBC drew more than 11,500 attendees (that’s huge!) and it was one of the best that we’ve been part of. If there were any major problems (and understandably, at things like this, anything could happen), we didn’t hear about them. That’s because the BA worked tirelessly to present something special and to ensure all the moving parts came together seamlessly  and they did.Who Showed Up

Reflecting the growth of American craft beer in general, this year’s gathering was the biggest ever. Industry rock stars, like Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione and New Belgium’s Kim Jordan and Peter Bouckaert, were everywhere as usual. But an amazing number of breweries in planning and people from breweries that have been in business for less than a year were also in attendance.

Equally impressive was the growing number of attendees from around the world. Stalwarts from the UK, Ireland, Belgium, New Zealand, and Australia were all in town as you might expect. But we also met more Scandinavians, Eastern-Europeans, French, Italians, Japanese, and Chinese than ever before.

, The 2015 Craft Brewer’s Conference Wrap UpWe were also impressed with the number of women at this year’s CBC. Once very much a boy’s club, the craft beer industry is now home to thousands of female professionals  and that sea of change was very much in evidence last week in Portland.

There were also other businesses in town that came to the conference to either “sell to” craft beer professionals or to invest in them. BrewExpo featured 600 vendors offering new industry innovations and services. And we also ran into venture capitalists, restaurant entrepreneurs, and management and accounting firms looking to get in on the biz.

Seminars and What People Were Talking About

People come to the CBC to listen, learn, and discuss a multitude of industry issues, and even after late nights spent drinking with friends, the seminars were packed. This year’s themes included unity, quality, and safety, but with three days of sessions, there was something there for everyone.

The place was also abuzz with all kinds of industry speculation and concerns – and of course, all kinds of fun gossip. One of the things that constantly came up was Dick Cantwell’s announcement that he was leaving Elysian. Another thing that had everyone going was that former Harpoon CEO Rich Doyle’s new venture, Enjoy Beer LLC, had just bought into Abita, and that he was looking for more prime craft beer properties to invest in.

Portland Was Perfect

With more breweries (58) located within its city limits than anywhere else in the country, Portland was a wonderful choice for this year’s conference and clearly everyone loved it being held there. It’s a beautiful city of differing neighborhoods and home to some remarkable breweries  all of them overflowing with people in town for the CBC.

Cascade was one of the “IT” destinations. reflecting the industry’s growing fascination with Sours. And Mike Wright’s new The Commons location was mobbed, as well it should be.

Widmer Brothers hosted brewery tours and events for CBC visitors and media all week long. They announced a $10 million investment to expand their brewery on North Russell Street and to increase their overall production to 750,000 barrels by early 2017.

Deschutes‘ downtown brewpub threw events every night, including a special food and barrel-aged beer pairing party on Tuesday night that was a total blast. The music that night included Kyle Hollingsworth (String Cheese Incident), who jammed on stage with Euforquestra and the Colorado-based Quick & Easy Boys.

But It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Next year’s CBC (May 3rd6th) will be taking place in the “City of Brotherly Love” and you know the weather’s always great there!

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