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January 5, 2018

On the Road: Craft Brewers Conference 2017

Dates: April 10-14, 2017
City: Washington, D.C.
Brightly Team: Keith, Jonathan and Alison

One of my favorite shows of the year! Great beer, great friends, great coworkers and a new city to explore. Plus, three days talking about honey. What’s not to love about the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC)?

Jonathan, Keith, Alison and an elephant at the opening reception at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
It was my fourth CBC, and I was proud to represent the National Honey Board to the thousands of craft brewers who attended the show. We upgraded our booth presence this year, doubling our normal space, and the enhanced presence really made an impact. We accomplished our goals, sampling four varietals of honey and promoting our Honey Beer Summit and Honey Beer Competition.

Here are my top five observations from the show.

1. Brewers love t-shirts

The beard is made of bees! For the third year in a row, we gave brewers a free t-shirt for signing up for our Brewing with Honey newsletter. And, for the third year in a row, Jonathan killed the t-shirt design. Check it out. Brilliant!

2. Whole lotta hops and malt suppliers

Just as the number of craft breweries is exploding, so is the number of hops and malt suppliers. It was quite shocking to see in person. On one particular aisle, I counted six malt suppliers within a short walk from each other. Which begs the question, how does a malt supplier distinguish itself? Judging by the marketing, everyone was taking the same approach and showing fields of grain. There’s no doubt that gets the point across that malt is being sold, but I didn’t see many malt companies distinguishing themselves in a meaningful manner. I’ve got some ideas if anyone is interested in a chat.

A midnight spin using bike share was the perfect end to a busy day.
Washington, D.C. is a great city

In all my travels, Washington D.C. is a city I’ve never checked off my list. I was glad to change that. I was even happier that I loved the city as much as I did. The history, monuments and museums all impressed. It was great to explore the city late at night (by bike nonetheless!) with Jonathan and Alison. My favorite sites: the Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thomas Jefferson Memorials.

Low ABV, high enjoyment

On our first night in town, we attended a tap takeover by some of our favorite breweries, including Off Color Brewing out of Chicago and hometown favorite Perennial Artisan Ales. The theme of the night: low-ABV beers (less than 5%). What a treat. Great, sessionable beers without the booziness. We even had the opportunity to get a preview sample of Perennial’s Cave Torch IPA, which quickly ranks as one of my favorite hoppy ales.

Brewers are great people

I’m sure there are some brewers of ill-repute out there, I just haven’t met them. Between CBC and our very own Honey Beer Summits, I’ve started to develop quite a network of brewers, and it was great to see so many friends who either stopped by the booth or shared a drink. It was also great to meet a few brewers that will be attending our Honey Beer Summit in Austin.