This past Tuesday I flew out to San Diego, CA for the Craft Brewers Conference and World Beer Cup. It was an honor to attend this amazing event held once a year in a different US city and put on by the Brewers Association. Only every other year is the World Beer Cup held in conjunction with the conference and this was one of those years. More than 4,000 people in the industry attended the official conference May 2-5 which included classes and seminars each day and a kickoff party the likes of which I have never seen at the San Diego Zoo and all culminating in the World Beer Cup.
I arrived early on May 1st to partake in complimentary Brewers Association brewery tours but I will start this post with the real kickoff events at the San Diego Zoo and Keynote address at the Town & Country Hotel this years conference took place at.
Charlie Papazian the legendary father of homebrewing and founder of the Brewers Association started the keynote off with an overview of the craft beer industry and how far we have come. He also welcomed such guests as fellow BA board members Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head), Dick Cantwell (Elysian) and Oregon Senator Peter Defazio before Steve Hindy (Founder/Owner of Brooklyn Brewery) delivered the official Keynote address.
|Left to Right: Steve Hindy, Peter DeFazio, Sam Calagione, Dick Cantwell|
Steve Hindy who I was not all that familiar with as his Brewmaster Garrett Oliver often is in the spotlight delivered the most entertaining speech. I found it refreshingly relaxed and uncensored as he delivered opinionated jabs towards Republicans and brewers not as concerned with quality as much as others. He shared Mr. Oliver's sense of style yet more understated he prefers a nice hat, he is well versed in politics speaking on both the definition of a craft brewer and current relative tax law on brewers in New York. It was a refreshing close to the kickoff.
|A full house for the kickoff party at the San Diego Zoo|
It was pretty indicative of how the next 4 days would go until it came down to the final big closing event.
799 breweries from 54 countries and 45 U.S. states entered 3,921 beers in 95 beer style categories into the bi-annual World Beer Cup.
After a cool intro video presentation the likes of you might see at the Academy Awards we were treated to a great 6 course brewers dinner this year presented by the Chef from San Francisco's Monk's Kettle. They did an amazing job with high quality food and kept it coming at an amazingly quick pace for what must have been around 1,000 people!
|Oakshire's Matt Van Wyk and Breakside's Ben Edmunds (Ed. Note: Ben is gesturing towards Matt's Oakshire belt buckle not his "package")|
In the end our table came out pretty victorious with 4 medals! Here are a few great pictures of the winners from "SNOB" Ritch. (Full list of winners here.)
|Scott Larence & Ben Edmunds of Breakside Brewery|
|Josh Grgas, Mike Wright, Sean Burke of The Commons|
|Vasili Gletsos and Shane Watterson of Laurelwood Brewing|
|Sam Calagione with the Breakside crew at the afterparty|