It’s been a couple weeks since I got back from the Craft Brewers Conference in DC, but I think I’m finally starting to digest some of the information that I got there. I also digested this little treat a few days ago as well.
Every year they have a couple breweries collaborate on a beer for the festival attendees, and this year the beer was called “Beggars and Thieves”. It was an “Anti-Imperial Rye Lager”. It was a really nice session beer with the spiciness contributing by the rye really accentuating the lager crispness. Thanks to DC Brau, Brewers Art, and Devils Backbone for putting together a really nice presentation for it.
It was a phenomenal conference, and I’m really glad that I got the opportunity to head out there for it. The conference was split into two distinct sections, one was the “Brewexpo America” which was the trade show. I spent a decent amount of time walking around, shaking hands, meeting new folks, and putting faces with names. People like Kevin from Brewmation (who designed my control system), John from Stout Tanks (who designed my brewhouse tanks) and David from Pro Engineering (who has offered numerous pieces of incredible advice to help me dial everything in).
I also got to make some new contacts, some of which are already paying off. As many of you probably know, I was having a very painful experience with my growler supplier (and I apologize that we were out of the 32 oz “Squealers” for a couple weeks there). I started talking with the guys at Ceramic Decorating during the show (they do all the screenprinted bottles and growlers for Stone Brewing) and as a result, my first order of the 2-Liter growlers that we have in the taproom will be arriving this thursday or friday. Just in the nick of time, since I’m down to 3 of them left in the taproom!
The other contact I made was with the folks at Premier Stainless. They were the only company that I talked with at the show that had 7-barrel fermenters in stock right now.
And one of them is being crated up in the next couple days and shipped to our booming beer mecca here in Flagstaff.
With that one little conversation, our production here at Wanderlust will be taking a jump up in capacity in the next couple weeks. Everyone else was several months out at this point on a fermenter, but all the walking around and chatting with folks at the expo paid off and we’ve got a fermenter on the way.
There was a lot of dreaming on my part as well. Some of the things got put on a prioritized wish-list. Others, like this little beauty, just got admired for their craftsmanship and got a footnote of “what if….”.
The other part of the conference was the symposium talks. These talks covered everything you could ever want to hear about related to running a brewery. From talks on sour beers, to wood aged beers, to cleaning procedures, to marketing and financing; it was all there. There were 3 days of talks, with 4-6 going on at any point in time in different rooms. It was a bit overwhelming at times, especially when there were several at one time going on that I wanted to attend. Fortunately, they’re available online to attendees afterwards, and I’ve been taking full advantage of it.
As with most conferences like this, the talks are a bit of a brain dump at the time, and by the end of the day, you almost can’t see straight from all the powerpoint presentations and technical deep-dives.
And the fact that there was a lot of free beer there didn’t help the concentration by the end of the day.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I gravitated towards the more technical talks at the symposium, and I was rewarded with a head full of things to think about in the brewery. Some I’ve already implemented, some are food for thought for future beers, and some just ended up adding to the wish list of items that would like to own some day at the brewery.
On that note, if you’re trying to figure out what to get me for my birthday next month, an ATP meter would be really nice……….
Here are some general observations from some of the talks that were really interesting to me:
That’s a long list of takeaways from the talks, and the list is getting longer as I’m able to go back through some of the presentations again (and watch some that I didn’t get the chance to see at the conference). Was it worth the time and money to go out there? Absolutely. When you hear about all of the insight and knowledge that is out there in this industry and all of the passion that is associated with that, it’s really inspiring. Conferences like this strengthen the whole beer community as a whole, and I’m proud to be a part of that community.