Well its been about a week since I headed to DC for the Craft Brewers Conference, so I have had a little time to digest everything that I learned and everyone I met at this amazing conference. Being my first time and still having a bit to figure out in terms of getting the brewery going, I do have to admit that it was a little overwhelming. So many lectures and speakers as well as a rather daunting Trade Show floor, made for a busy three days.
Through it all here are a couple things I learned...
- Craft Beer continues to grow and at this point there aren't many signs that it is stopping. That is great news for some (yours truly) in that market is continuing to grow for craft beer and new small brewers can take advantage of that market growth. But not so much for others (The larger craft brewers) since while the market is growing, it is not growing at the pace it needs to, for the bigger craft brewers to keep there market share. I guess we just need to get that market share back from the Macros.
- Taproom, Taproom, taproom. If you can have a taproom and sell pints out of your brewery, DO IT! (Dont worry people, I had planned on it) Of course this all depends on your state and the laws that they have, but if you can have a taproom, the profit you can realize is tremendous to even self distribution, that it is stupid not to.
- This should go without saying in my book, but Quality. Whether you are a small brewer just trying to break into the seen, or someone jumping up in production, do not sacrifice quality for dollars. In the end, even if it is tough up front, that quality will pay off in loyal and fervent followers of your beer and brand.
- And finally, the craft brewing community is amazing. That wasn't something I necessarily needed to go to DC to find out, the support I have gotten from brewers (like the guys at Barrier) to bars (like the guys at 61 Local) to just everyone involved in the NYC craft beer scene, has definitely shown me that already, but it was reiterated in a big way in DC by all the new people I met in this amazing industry (and that was me being tame due to the overwhelming nature of it all. Wait till next year when i break out of my shell :)
Anyways. It was a great experience and one I would love to repeat next year. In the meantime here a some snapshots of my weekend. Enjoy