I got back from the Craft Brewers Conference on Monday morning, but it's taken me until now to emerge from the sleep deprivation and foggy sense of bliss. Read on for the rundown.
Each time slot contained 4-5 presentations, so Jane and I decided that we'd get more out of the conference if we split up. For any given time slot, we picked the two most useful-sounding seminars and I went to the one that was more likely to contain lots of brewing terminology. As much as I wanted to attend the startup sessions, Jane went to them while I learned about sustainability. It ended up being a wise decision because the startup seminars focused on information that we already knew - we would've been mad if both of us sat through the same talks. All of the other seminars that we attended were excellent.
We learned a ton, but there's not much to say about it - there were a bunch of booths manned by people who provide goods & services to brewers. We asked a lot of questions about how much things cost and how long they take. We also won the giant mug pictured below.
We had Lakeside Press print 500 business cards for us before the trip, and we gave out A LOT of them. What we did was similar to networking, but the people we met were way too cool to think of as business connections. That's the brewing industry: "99% asshole-free" according to Sam Calagione, the owner of Dogfish Head. It was great to catch up with old friends, as well. Way more of them were in attendance than I expected. Until now, I didn't think that my past brewing experiences - both at home and at commercial breweries - provided very much exposure. I was wrong!
We wouldn't be doing the conference justice if we didn't mention the free beer, which was everywhere:
-The welcome reception at Stone Brewing Company's extravagant facility.
-Daily, during breaks between seminars and other conference presentations.
-Every night at the resort's tiki pavilion, which featured 100 taps of beer brewed in California (pictured).
-On the complimentary shuttle rides between bars.
-Beer festival-style in the parking lot of a Karl Strauss brewery.
With so much beer provided, we only made it to one bar in San Diego: Hamilton's Tavern. It was a great bar with tons of taps and a colorful atmosphere that I can only describe as the opposite of sterile (I'm not very observant), but I'd like to go back when it's not packed with conference attendees.
Overall, we had a lot of fun and took in a lot of information. We can't wait to do it again!