Craft Brewers Conference Summary

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All the taps are dry, hotel conference rooms are empty and inspired craft beer professionals are returning home from San Francisco, which played host this past week to the Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America at the Hilton Hotel from March 23-26.

A record breaking crowd of thirty-nine hundred brewers, executives and beer luminaries from around the world attended educational seminars, browsed the trade show, networked and mingled with old friends while drinking copious amounts of craft beer.

The conference schedule was packed with seminars and hospitality events. The first highlight was the Welcome Reception at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. The museum was a spectacular backdrop. Beer stations manned by Northern California breweries were positioned throughout the facility in dramatic fashion.

Russian River Brewing poured in front of the colossal aquarium filled with 38,000 colorful fish and sea anemones, while Magnolia Brewing, Social Kitchen, Anchor Brewing and 21st Amendment occupied the African Hall, where majestic animals grace beautiful dioramas. Guests happily explored the entire museum while sipping beer and eating tasty finger food.

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A heroic server from 21st Amendment Brewery

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Adam from Linden Street Brewery (right).

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Sam Calagione and Dave McLean

One of the most anticipated events of the entire conference took place the following morning when legendary brewers Fritz Maytag and Ken Grossman delivered the keynote address. Instead of giving a traditional speech, the two men sat in easy chairs to share memories and anecdotes from the early stages of their respective careers.

It was humorous, informative and very inspiring. Near the end of their chat, bottles of Fritz & Ken’s Ale were passed through the crowd for a ceremonial toast and a chorus of popping corks filled the room. You can listen to the whole discussion over at the Brookston Beer Bulletin.

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Fritz Maytag of Anchor Brewing

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Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada Brewing

Just like any other conference, a major element of this event was the BrewExpo trade show, which featured over 200 hundred vendors in three large ballrooms. This is where the real business of the conference took place. Staff from breweries, brewpubs and prospective nanobrewers wandered the aisles to gaze at equipment, accessories, sniff hops and handle grain.

The variety of vendors was immense. Label printers to mash tun manufactures vied for attention with impressive displays that in some cases featured large scale brewing and bottling equipment. In a few instances brewers placed orders, but the majority simply stuffed samples for research and business cards into over-sized swag bags.

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Larry Bell, owner of Bell’s Brewery, and Penny Pickart from the Breiss Malt Company.

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Meissenburg Designs

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If conference goers weren’t on the trade show floor they were sitting in one of fifty-three different seminars offered over three days covering a wide range of topics: sustainability, exportation, packaging, operations, quality, technical brewing, public relations, marketing and government affairs. They were also designed for breweries at every size and level, but there did seem to be an emphasis on seminars for start-ups and nanobrewing operations.

Most of the sessions were lead by a panel of brewers or experts in their respective field and in some cases included beer samples for demonstration purposes. Some of the more popular seminars included Yeast, The Versatility of American Hops, High Gravity Panel Discussion, Barrel-Aged Sour Beers from Two Belgian’s Perspectives, The Long view of the Big Picture featuring pioneer Jack McAuliffe and Beyond Hops and Malt: Infusing Passion and Creativity Into the Brewing Process.

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Monk’s Kettle Chef Adam Dulye (left) with Stone Brewing founder Greg Koch leading the seminar Working with Chefs.

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Versatility of American Hops Seminar.

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Floris Delee and Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head Brewery.

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Marketing to Boomers Seminar

While the majority of the Craft Brewers Conference is about education, improving quality and performance, it’s also one big party. Beer could be found around any corner in hospitality events, seminars, at lunch or in the hotel lobby, which made it challenging for some to stay awake in afternoon seminars.

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After the daily schedule of seminars were over special events at bars and restaurants popped up all over town. Some were private affairs, but most were open to the public. In most cases individual breweries would take over a location and feature a wide range of special or rare beer.

Deschutes Brewery invaded the Bay Area with seven events across the region while Lagunitas and Anchor Brewing made the biggest splash by renting out the Fillmore for a free concert by British rocker Richard Thompson. Another late night option included the CityScape Room on the forty-sixth floor of the Hilton Hotel that opened for two nights with free beer and incredible views. It was so popular the first night that the fire Marshall shut down the elevators over safety concerns.

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Ezra Johnson-Greenough from Upright Brewing (left) with head brewer Larry Sidor from Deschutes Brewing at City Beer Store..

Despite the dreary weather the conference has received great reviews. Bay Area breweries, bars and restaurants shined and as wonderful hosts reasserted the regions prominence as a craft beer destination with historical roots that established the current industry.

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Craft Brewers Conference Closing Reception.

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CBC 2011 Social Media Tracker

Industry professionals from around the world have arrived in San Francisco for the Craft Brewers Conference and their lighting up the social media airwaves as they tour the Bay Area and attend events. BACB thought it would be fun to chronicle the festivities for attendees and the unfortunate souls who couldn’t make it into town.

The stream of tweets and facebook updates will grow as the conference continues into the weekend.

Craft Brewers Conference Public Events

Are you feeling left out during this weeks Craft Brewer’s Conference? No worries, although the conference is only for industry professionals there are special public events happening every night this week around the Bay. If your looking to rub elbows with the pros or get your hands on great beer here’s a list of things to do:

Tuesday, March 22

Brewery Night: Deschutes Brewing
5:00pm, Hop Yard, 3015 Hopyard Rd., Pleasanton, CA.

Deschutes Brewing will have an arsenal of brew on hand along with Woody their barrel shaped beer dispenser on wheels.

Saison & Cheese Pairing
6:00pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd St., Oakland, CA.

Features the finest selection of Belgian & Belgian Inspired Saison & some very fancy stinky cheeses!

Deschutes Beer Pairing Dinner
6:00-9:00pm,  Monk’s Kettle, 3141 16th Street, San Francisco, CA.

“Deschutes Brewery Chef Matt Neltner and Monk’s Kettle Chef Adam Dulye collaborate to deliver a menu made for beer. The special menu, from which anyone visiting the restaurant can order, takes the expertise of these two chefs to create food and beer pairings that will kick off the week just right. On tap will be a large variety of Deschutes beers including: The Abyss 2010, The Abyss, 2009, Black Butte XXI, Hop Henge Experimental IPA, Red Chair NWPA, Mirror Mirror, Jubel 2010, Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Green Lakes Organic Ale. Visitors will also have a chance to discuss the beers and brewing processes with Deschutes Brewery brewer Robin Johnson.”

Wednesday, March 23

Drake’s Brewing Barrel Aged Beer Tasting
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Porky’s Pizza Palace, 1221 Manor Blvd, San Leandro, CA

“Join us at “The Palace” for an Exclusive Tasting of 8 different beers from San Leandro’s local brewery Drake’s Brewing Co., celebrating the Craft Brewers Conference Week in SF.
Some Limited, Barrel Aged & some of our favorite Drake offerings from
the past & present with a twist added!
1.2009 Jolly Roger-Imperial Brown Ale
2.Bourbon Barrel Aged 2009 Jolly Roger
3.Bourbon Barrel Aged Drakonic Imperial Stout
4.Exclusive CBC I.P.A.1/2 Brewed for CBC attendees and in limited
release-we have just 1 keg! Not quite a double IPA with a just right
balance of malt and hops!
5.1500 Dry Hopped Pale Ale(Nitro-Dispensed)adds a creamy body to one
of our favorite beers from Drake’s!(think hoppy Boddingtons)
6.Hop Salad-8% Agressively Hopped Limited Double IPA, a limited
release from mid-January, saved for this event, Cheers!
7.Hopocalypse Imperial IPA – Bronze Medal Winner at this years “The
Bistro” Double IPA Fest, 3rd out of a field of 56 other professional
judged Double IPA’s!
8.Alpha Sessions-American Session Ale-Lighter session ale with a big
hop character just 3.8% & 75IBU’s.
Serving Great Pizza, Chicken & Beer since 1963.”

Deschutes & Old Woody
6:00pm, Beer Revolution, 464 3rd St., Oakland, CA.

20 different beers from Deschutes Brewing will be on tap along with their beer barrel on wheels called Woody.

Deschutes Brewing Black Butte XXII CA Debut
8-11pm, The Republic, 3213 Scott Street, San Francisco, CA.

“This imperial bourbon-aged version of our popular Black Butte Porter, brewed in 2010 with chilies, dark chocolate and orange peel, is well worth a taste during its California debut. You may be familiar with Black Butte XX and XXI which were released to celebrate the Brewery’s past anniversaries, but because XXII was not available outside of our brew pubs, most have not had the pleasure of tasting this spectacular beer.”

Thursday, March 24

Northeast Night
Monk’s Kettle, 3141 16th St., San Francisco, CA.

“Two breweries not usually found in the Bay Area, Pretty Things Ales and Cambridge Brewing Company. Pretty Things, from the East Coast, will soon be available in this area; we will be pouring the first keg of their saison Jack d’Or to be found on this coast. We will also be pouring two drafts from Cambridge Brewing, Project Venus and Blunderbuss. Dann and Martha, owners of Pretty Things, and Will Myers, brewmaster of Cambridge, will be on hand for the evening.”

Craft Brewers Council Sierra Nevada, Russian River Collaboration Event
4:00pm, Public House, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco, CA.

Come down to Public House for your chance to try Sierra Nevada and Russian River Brewing’s 2011 Collaboration Beer.

Brewery Night: Deschutes Brewing
4:00-8:00pm, The Englander, 101 Parrott St., San Leandro, CA.

Deschutes Brewing continues its invasion of the Bay Area this time in San Leandro. Deschutes beers will take over the taps along with Woody, their mobile beer dispensing wooden keg on wheels.

TCHO Chocolate & Brewers Supply Group Tasting
6:00-9:00pm, TCHO Factory, Pier 17, San Francisco, CA.

$25 entrance fee CASH ONLY includes tasting of brews and chocolate. Tickets may only be purchased at the door the night of the event. A portion of the event proceeds will be donated to the ALS Associaton. This event will be held at the TCHO factory on Pier 17. 6-9pm. 21 years and older ONLY.

Brewer’s Dinner
7:00-10:00pm, Pyramid Brewery, 901 Gilman St, Berkeley, CA.

Come enjoy an evening with the Pyramid Brewers & Chef! We’ll be serving up a savory 4-course meal paired with our deliciously crafted summer seasonal Curve Ball. Here are the details: Cost is $45 (all inclusive) and tickets must be purchased IN ADVANCE by calling (510) 527-9090 x223 -Limited to 20 seats
Menu:
PIGS IN A BLANKET
Pork Tenderloin wrapped in filo dough on baby mustard greens and Dijon apple sauce
HONEY FIG & GOAT CHEESE SALAD
Fig vinaigrette drizzled on frisee salad greens with honey candied figs and hand rolled almond covered goat cheese
ALMOND CRUSTED MAHI-MAHI
Crisp and buttery almonds coat Hawaii’s native mahi-mahi Served with julienne tropical relish of pineapple, mango, and apple
BOMBSHELL PARFAIT
Sugar covered green apples crown a creamy blend of caramelized blond apple parfait with sweet vanilla crème and crunchy granola

Deschutes Beer Tasting
8:00pm, Toronado, 547 Haight, San Francisco, CA 94122-2767

Join four Deschutes brewers for some beer and sausage. Rosamunde will be grilling up some of their best to wash down with a bit of any of the following beers: The Abyss, The Dissident, Mirror Mirror, Nitro The Abyss, Hop Henge Experimental IPA, Red Chair NWPA, Green Lakes Organic Ale and Mirror Pond Pale Ale.

Upright Brewing at The Trappist
8:00pm, The Trappist, 460 8th Street, Oakland, CA.

Upright Brewing brewers and representatives Ezra Johnson-Greenough and Ben Edmunds are in town for the Craft Brewers Conference and will be making a stop at the great beer bar The Trappist to pour some of their special brand of Farmhouse ales with a Pacific NW twist and will be bringing along some rare barrel-aged bottled treats.

Black Star’s Craft Brewers After Party
9:00pm, Boom Boom Room, 1601 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA.

“You’re invited to attend Black Star’s Craft Brewers After Party on Thursday, March 24th at The Boom Boom Room in San Francisco! Join us from 9pm until the bands stop at 2:15am! Meet Marcus Duffey from the Great Northern Brewing Company and Minott Wessinger, founder ofBlack Star while you enjoy live music, dancing and of course, some cold Black Star beers. If you are attending the Craft Brewers Conference or are a member of the beer/bar industry, present badge/industry ID for complementary VIP admission.

Friday, March 25

Dogfish Head Happy Hour
Urban Tavern, 333 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA.

Dogfish Head is hosting a tasting in Urban Tavern and will be pouring Aprihop, Midas Touch, Palo Santo Marron and 90 Minute IPA. Come join the Dogfish crew! Note: Urban Tavern is located inside the Hilton Hotel and specific event hours have not been listed. It will take place sometime Friday afternoon.

East Bay & North Bay Total Takeover!
4:00pm,  Beer Revolution, 464 3rd St., Oakland, CA.

Breweries from the East & North Bay will takeover the taps at Beer Revolution.

Firkin Friday
4:00-9:00pm, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, 1195 Evans, San Francisco, CA.

In celebration of the Craft Brewer’s Conference (CBC) landing in San Francisco, we have pulled out all the stops for this week’s party – including some new beers, live bands and delicious food. All pints are only $3.

Live music will kick off at 6:00.  Starting with the guitar jammin’ duo Andrew Blair and Ross Warner. The night will be closed out with a grass land stomp set from the The Easy Leaves. San Francisco’s Good Foods BBQ will serve delicious barbecue.  We’ll round that off with tasty Mexican food from local favorite La Laguna Taqueria.

In addition to featuring our regular line of beers, Friday will be the public debut of our new beer brewed special for the CBC called Snatch Racket India Pale Lager. Snatch Racket – named for the surge of kidnappings and ransoms in 1920’s during prohibition – is a unique blend of styles, a 6.5% full bodied lager dry-hopped like an IPA with all German hops. We’ll also be pulling a few rare aged beers from the cellar just for the night.

A Brewers Gathering
6:00pm, The Trappist, 460 8th Street, Oakland, CA.

“In attendance will be Jean Van Roy from Cantillon, Yvan de Baets from De La Senne, Jens from Haand Bryggeriet, Kjetil from Nogne-O, and Stephane, JP, and Luc from Dieu du Ciel! Your chance to meet some of the top brewers, innovators from five of the best breweries in the world! We will have several selections from each brewer on tap.”

Deschutes Beer Tasting
6:00pm, City Beer Store, 1168 Folsom St Suite 101, San Francisco, CA.

Deschutes will be serving appetizers and bringing down some favorites and specials such as The Abyss, Jubel 2010, Mirror Mirror, Hop Henge Experimental IPA and Red Chair NWPA. Meet brewmaster, Larry Sidor, along with three other Deschutes brewers as they discuss this wide variety of beers.

Marrón Acidifié Kick-Off
7:00pm, Rosamunde Sausage Grill – Mission, 2832 Mission, San Francisco, CA.

The Bruery and Cigar City Brewing are psyched to release the fruit of their collaborative efforts during the Craft Brewer’s Conference. Join the brewers at Rosamunde Sausage Grill’s Mission location for the first public tapping of Marrón Acidifié. Over a year in barrels has left this 8.5% ABV “imperial oud bruin” layered with notes of cranberries, tropical fruits, leather and aged balsamic vinegar, balanced by wood tannins and roasted malt.

Saturday, March 26

Brewing up Cocktails with Ninkasi
5:00-9:00pm, 111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna Street, San Francisco, CA.

Ninkasi owner/brewer and figurehead Jamie Floyd will be on hand, while Brewing up Cocktails mixologists Ezra Johnson-Greenough, Jacob Grier, and Yetta Vorobik will be behind the bar making a variety of beer cocktails. There will be one for each of Ninkasi’s year-round beers, including Wired Magazine’s Most Wired Beer Believer Double Red, Total Domination IPA, Tricerahops Double IPA, Oatis Oatmeal Stout, and seasonal release Spring Reign.