The Craft Brewers Conference is an annual event bringing craft brewers from around the world together to talk beer, check out the latest equipment, and most importantly, share some pints. Unlike last year’s in DC, this year both Andrew and I were able to head out to Denver for the week.
After a grueling plane ride (thanks Newark and a 2+ hour delay) we arrived safely in Denver and wasted little time snagging our first beer (New Belgium Ranger) with Tony from Ale Street News. After dropping our bags at the hotel we picked up our batches and took the short (insert sarcasm here) walk to Wynkoop Brewing. We worked through a good bit of their portfolio of beers over some grub and managed to snag a two-sack of their Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. After a brief stop at one of the European hop grower’s hospitality suite we were off to the official opening of the conference.
Buses of brewers flooded into Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos. Ample food upon entry laid a great base for the copious amount of beer to be had from highlights such as Crooked Stave, Funkworks and more. Beer stadiums filled the perimeter and club level of the stadium. Ample samples were consumed and we bumped in to quite a few of our NJ Beer Brethren – Carton, Kane and the up-and-comer Spellbound.
Wednesday morning came way too quickly and we were glad to have turned in early after the reception. After a rousing keynote opening – craft is up a whooping 18% in 2013 – we hit the expo floor. Vendors, equipment manufactures and more were scattered about a plethora of beer stations and Andrew and I got to work. Knowing shortly after our return we’d be looking to order equipment we spent a good deal of time chatting with suppliers of everything we’ll need to build out our own production facility. Seminars followed, a quick refresher at the hospitality suites then back to the expo floor. Wednesday came to a close before we knew it.
Thursday brought more of the same, bouncing between the expo floor, various seminars and getting as snagging as much free beer and swag as possible (including a pin won from our good friends at Geemacher). After the day’s events came to a close we headed to Prost Brewing with Tyler from Iron Heart and Carl from Toucan for some liters. After some grub (and way too many pints) we made it over to the Ogden Theater where Oskar Blues hosted a party including the conference collaboration beer as well as some epic tunes from The Infamous String Dusters.
Friday was a bit more low key. The expo floor was closed (as were the hospitality suites…unfortunately) so the focus was all on gaining as much as we could from the seminars that remained. We popped over to Breckenridge for lunch before the final two seminars of the conference. Afterwards we snagged some Deschutes brews with some of the great beer writers of the world before heading over to Denver Beer Co. We closed the evening with one last quick pint at River North before heading to the airport for the red eye (worst…decision…ever…).
In case you weren’t following all week – a bunch of the pictures from our adventures in Denver are in the gallery below.