Tyler, Rachel, Jonas and I got back on Saturday from the Craft Brewers Conference in Boston where we had a productive and fun time.
This is my third conference and the function of this conference seems to change every year for me. The first year, I was looking for information on how to start my brewery, and focused on the educational aspects as well as getting to know equipment suppliers. I quickly found out when talking to equipment suppliers that new equipment would mostly be out of my reach. At this first conference (in Austin, TX), I noticed how friendly everyone was to each other in this industry and this made me all the more excited to start a brewery and be a part of this family.
My second conference in San Diego, CA came about a month after our first batch, and a week before we sold our first case of beer. (Speaking of which, today is our first anniversary of selling our first case of beer to Hollingshead Deli in Orange, CA. I'll have to stop by Hollingshead's today, have a beer, and thank the Hollingshead family for all that they've done for us.) My second conference came at a time when Tyler was the only employee. We came to the conference to learn as much as we could about the industry as well as try to let our industry know we existed. We donated 12 cases of beer to the conference, and a case or two luckily ended up at the Brewery Owners / CEO Reception, where Greg Koch and Steve Wagner from Stone Brewing Co. first tried our beer. This was the starting point of Stone distributing our beers in Southern California. No one had heard of us, and many were skeptical that we'd be in business a year from then.
Things were a bit different at this year's Craft Brewers Conference. This conference I focused on making and strengthening relationships with our suppliers, fellow brewers, our distributors, and distributors we'd like to have on our team. We also focused on drinking the best beer the Northeast has to offer, something we did quite well I might add! The educational components of the Craft Brewers Conference were a bit lower of a priority this year than the previous two years, but collectively we went to most of the seminars and learned some new things.
Tyler flew the redeye and went to the two day MBAA yeast seminar, where he had the chance to make friends with and pick the brains of some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry. He also discovered new quality assurance procedures which require new pieces of lab equipment that we clearly can't afford right now. Maybe for Christmas, Tyler!
On Saturday we checked out downtown Boston and visited our friend Andrew at the Jamaica Plain Sam Adams brewery. Andrew gave us a great tour, and then drove us to a beer store where we stocked up on East Coast beers, and then drove us back to our hotel. What a great guy-- thanks Andrew! We hope you'll visit Southern California soon.
The CBC is a great place to make friends who share the same passion for craft beer that we do, and it's a lot of fun being a part of this large family. I'm looking forward to the next CBC in Chicago!