The 2014 Craft Brewers Conference was held in Denver, CO on April 8-11 at the Colorado Convention Center. I didn’t attend this conference for many reasons (not really in the business and it cost more than I can afford) but a good friend of mine, Dennis Koss as there as my on the spot reporter. This is his account of the weeks events.
The conference was well attended with over 9000 craft brewers and allied trade members participating with approximately 1100 breweries were represented. I attended as a brewer who is planning to one day open my own brewery.
Tuesday was a day for registration, first time attendees meeting, bus tours to local breweries and a welcome reception held at Sports Authority Field.
The Conference started in earnest on Wednesday with the keynote address. Speakers included:
Charlie Papazian, President, Brewers Association
John Hickenlooper, Colorado Governor
Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association
Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director of Brewers Association
Gary Fish, Deschutes Brewery
Bart Watson, Staff Economist at Brewers Association
Dick Cantwell, Elysian Brewing
John Mallet, Bell's Brewing
Keynote Speaker Michael Pollan, author of several books including Cooked, where Michael learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer. His topic was "Are we, as brewers controlling the yeast making our fermented beverages or are the yeast controlling us?"
Wednesday afternoon, Thursday and Friday were filled with seminars with topics regarding all aspects of operating a well-functioning brewery. Topics covered a broad range from start-up funding to the very technical subjects. Many seminars were dedicated to protecting your brand, from protecting your intellectual property to making quality beer.
|Josh Lampe, Marc Sorini, Kim Jordan, and Sam Calagione.|
By far, the most well attended seminar was Friday with the topic of “Entitle Using Belgian Yeast: Three Belgian’s Perspectives”, hosted by Vinnie Cilurzio of Russian River Brewing, Vinnie introduced the panel of Yvan De Bates of Brasserie de la Senne, Hedwig Neven of Duvel Moortgat and Steven Pauwels of Boulevard Brewing. Yvan De Yates spoke about fermenter design and its influence on fermentation. Hedwig Neven spoke about yeast flocculation while Steven Pauwels spoke about mixed fermentation with yeast fermentation and the influence of brettanomyces and lactobacillus on sour beers.
Along with the Craft Brewers conference was Brew-Expo America, a trade show for the brewing industry that included nearly 500 exhibitors from equipment and ingredient suppliers to service providers. 100 plus breweries provided beer donations for attendees from Alaskan Brewing to Wynkoop. Hospitality suites and sponsored demonstrations were provided by many vendors.
Many events were held outside of the conference as well. On Thursday Lagunitas Brewing and Left Hand Brewing presented The Funktion at the Filmore while Oskar Blues sponsored a bluegrass show at the Ogden Theater. Several beer focused bars in the area also had several special events in conjunction with the conference. I was able to get to the Falling Rock Tap House on the evening where they had 20 barrel aged beers on tap. Another event held in conjunction with the conference was the 2014 World Beer Cup. Beers were judged early in the week with the awards ceremony on Friday evening. Several Colorado brewers won awards.
The Craft Brewers Conference was extremely well organized and a great deal of valuable information was shared. Next years conference will be held in Portland, OR April 14-17.