#CBC17: Hanging with 13,000 Friends

Grand Ballroom 20 minutes before start of opening general session

Grand Ballroom 20 minutes before start of opening general session

So, here we are, Hugo my brewer husband and me, along with 13,000 other folks from the craft beer industry. Forty-five minutes ago, most of us at #CBC17 were sitting in the Grand Ballroom of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., listening to keynote speaker Alison Levine talk about the indispensable role of resoluteness in achieving goals. The woman who has climbed the highest peaks on all seven continents and skied to the North and South Poles has the creds to talk about dream achievement.

This is my third Craft Brewers Conference and that opening session still puts me in a state of awe. I mean, there I am, surrounded by some of the best and most famous people in the craft beer world. (This time, Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo were sitting directly in front of me.) And it literally is the world. In his opening remarks, Brewers Association President and CEO Bob Pease said this year’s attendees hail from over 50 countries.

According to Rob Tod, Chairman of the BA Board and founder of Allagash Brewery, there are now 130,000+ people employed in the U.S. craft beer industry. Presumably, that doesn’t even include jobs in the allied industries that support craft beer, like suppliers of raw materials and makers of bottling and canning lines and tap handles.

What would CBC general sessions be without annual awards? Before Levine came on stage, Wynne Odell of Odell Brewing presented the Craft Beer Wholesaler of the Year Award and the Recognition Award. The first went to Elite Brands of Colorado, the second to the Cilurzos, founders and owners of Russian River Brewing Company, a mecca for hardcore craft beer fans. The description of the award states that it “is presented each year to an individual or company whose inspiration, enthusiasm, and support have contributed to the brewpub and microbrewery movement.” If you’ve followed this blog, you know I’m a huge fan of Russian River and the Cilurzos. They totally deserve that award. My only surprise is that they hadn’t won it before 2017.

The Cilurzos accepting the Recognition Award

The Cilurzos accepting the Recognition Award

After the general session, I and a lot of other attendees checked out the bookstore. One of the things I love about craft brewers is that they tend to be a pretty smart bunch. The challenges of brewing good beer and the boundaries they can push attract some downright nerdy people who avidly read entire books with titles like, “Yeast” and “Hops” and “Tasting Beer.”

I haven’t yet made it to the Brewers Expo, the massive trade show that occupies the lower level of the convention center, although I took a peek yesterday morning during set-up. From a floor above, those workers scooting around on forklifts looked like big ants. Even the commercial truck driven into one of the larger booth areas was diminished by the size of the hall.

For now, I still have to get lunch before the first seminars start in an hour, but first, I had to get out the fastest post I’ve ever written. Check back next week to read about the craziness of spending a full pre-conference day (yesterday) touring breweries with professional brewers. Cheers!

Welcome Reception at the Smithsonian last night

Welcome Reception at the Smithsonian last night

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