We’re mere hours away from the 32nd Annual Craft Brewers Conference, which means over 11,000 mostly bearded peers are currently descending upon beerlandia — aka Portland – for a week of education, networking and drinking really good freaking beer. Our president Ryan Krill and Head Brewer Brian Hink are among them.
“The craft beer industry is growing like gangbusters,” says Barb Fusco, a spokesperson for the Brewers Association, who hosts the event. “And the CBC has evolved right along with it.”
Case in point: the folks in charge are expecting a 22% increase over last year’s attendance, this thanks to 1700 domestic breweries, 600 exhibitors and 215 credentialed members of the media, as well as industry suppliers and distributors. Beer geeks from around the globe (13% are coming from outside the US) will attend 79 seminars where they’ll hear from 173 speakers on topics ranging from brewer safety to sustainability to government affairs. And they’ll learn what’s new in terms of equipment and services from a trade show component covering 250,000 square feet. The economic impact on the city itself is expected to reach tens of millions of dollars.
Some people may see it as strange. All of this collaboration for the sake of businesses who should see each other as competition? Hell, at the “Keep Portland Weird” kickoff ceremony happening tomorrow night, not only will there be a slew of free and unusual doughnuts out for the taking (think Nyquil-glazed and Pepto Bismol-flavored), and not only will be there be 21,000 regional oysters up for grabs, but 59 Oregon breweries will be pouring in a spirit of welcome. Competition, shompetition.
“This is an industry filled with wonderful, cool people,” explains Barb. “They do it out of love, and that positive energy spreads. It’s not a corporate environment where the only bottom line is the dollar; people are here for passion, for self-expression, for flavor and for fun. Those qualities are exuberant and people want to share them. That spirit of sharing – knowledge, passion, service — is a hallmark.”
We’re going to keep you updated on the adventures of Ry-guy and Bri-guy as they navigate the hipster-heavy, knowledge-heavy, zeitgeist-heavy conference. Stay tuned.