Heading into the Craft Brewer’s Conference last week, we intended on blogging everyday about what was happening, what we were discussing and which of the thousands of available beers we were consuming. However, as can happen in life, we became distracted by our surroundings and missed out on keeping folks up to date. Having the chance to attend seminars from some of the most respected names in beer, along with walking a showroom floor with everything from barley to canning lines, definitely was worth the trip but also kept us preoccupied.
What you do need to know is that we were humbled and amazed to see the number of breweries represented at CBC. Over 1,000 different breweries, along with 6,400 different people, took to DC for education, lobbying and (of course) beer drinking. Getting the chance to speak to smaller start up breweries like ourselves about dilemmas we have faced, or asking some of the established breweries advice on growth, gave us the chance to focus on what we’ve done right and what we can improve. The social nature of this industry shined through the entire conference, validating some of the hours and labor that most people at the conference have put into starting something as crazy as a brewery.
Among the many highlights for us were getting to meet our representatives and their aides, getting locked IN the House of Representatives Office Building and exploring Jason Bourne style, and of course, checking out the local beer scene. DC Brau and Capital City were our two favorites of the week, but other regional folks like Flying Dog and Dogfish Head also made their way onto our palates quite often. Classes and seminars took place all day from Wednesday through Friday, with courses ranging from draft system maintenance to sour beer production dominated our days. Industry related tap-takeovers and get-togethers were constantly happening at night, leading to some rough 9am classes. The Brew-Expo is something to behold for those in the beer industry. Vendors from all walks of beer come together to hawk their goods for attendees. Over 400 different vendors came together with some impressive machinery, hops and neon signs to force us into making some important purchasing decisions in the very near future.
Our highlight was certainly the Thursday night event, Amber Waves. Along with 24 other breweries, many of them well known and established, we were able to pour beers for the thirsty people of DC and bring art together with beer. The premise was based around beer being an artistic interpretation, one that comes across in the liquid form for most of us. To demonstrate this to others, each brewery was asked to bring along a piece of art that represents the beer being poured as well. Jumping at the chance, Head Brewer Bob Duvernois tapped into his naval roots (both of his own doing AND ancestrally) to devise a Revolutionary-Era Spruce Beer. Made with very little hops (all grown in Bob’s backyard) and Colorado spruce tips to bitter, Bob then added sarsaparilla root and black strap molasses to the recipe for a ridiculously intriguing spice profile. With the help of our Assistant Brewer, Niles Lewin, our guys put together a beer that George Washington himself would have been proud of. To cap it off, it was then aged in rum barrels for a couple months to add some more depth and complexity, before being shipped out to Washington DC.
After a stressful few days of locating our keg in DC (with a huge thanks to the Brewer’s Association and Premium Distributors for giving us a helping hand), the beer was successfully delivered and ready to pour at the event. Hosted by Dogfish Head and Victory Brewing, the event was high-class all the way. With great beers, great food and great all-around people pouring and attending, there wasn’t much more to ask for. Unless you’re a Gwar fan. In which case, you were also in luck, as 3 Floyds put in a call and, low and behold, we received the demon-centric metal band Gwar! Pretty much a night of randomness and awesomeness, combined into one. Our beer was extremely well received, with most drinkers never having tasted such a satisfying and intriguing beer like that. Even Dogfish Head brewers, strange in their own right and toting a beer made with Deer Antlers to the event itself, said Bob and Niles’ beer was one of the most interesting beers they had experienced. Validated by Brewer’s Association President/Dogfish Founder Sam Calagione, along with Victory Brewing President/Brewmaster Bill Covaleski, the spruce beer aptly titled “George’s Wooden Teeth” stole the show for many. HUGE thumbs up to Bob and Niles for putting together a beer like that and a big thank you to those who helped put the event on.
While it was great getting to meet everyone, learn a good amount of information and drink a copious amount of beer, there’s nothing like coming home. We’re happy to be back and look forward to some great taproom nights with an open garage door soon enough. Keep your eyes open for our beer on tap at your favorite bars and restaurants, and more importantly, thanks for being awesome supporters of well made local beers.
keywords: Craft Brewer’s Conference, Amber Waves, Craft Beer