The Crafty Pint's senior writer, Will Ziebell, is in the States for the Craft Brewers Conference but is taking the opportunity to do some exploring further afield too. You can read the first of his Letters From America here.
Now, with the 2023 conference and World Beer Cup wrapped up, he's back with his thoughts on CBC and his early experiences on the next leg of his trip: Denver, Colorado.
Where am I?
Why am I here?
I was searching for a stop between Nashville and California and figured I should see the home of Blue Moon.
What have I been up to?
CBC has definitely been all-consuming over the last few days. Despite the vast number of people in attendance I don't know, as with any beer event, it's impossible not to walk through the convention centre without running into people I know, and thus catching up with them. Add in the tight turnaround and clashes between interesting seminars and you need to keep a constant eye on the time and set as many warning alarms as you can.
Seeing Bucketty's Brewing take home another World Beer Cup medal was a blast, as too was heading to a honky-tonk with them afterwards and watching Americans take photos with the team for an award of which they'd never heard.
What has surprised and impressed me the most?
Like anyone from Australia says, CBC is so incredibly large. Everything about it it is big, from the conference centre, to the bars, to a trade show floor which is so filled with different equipment makers, yeast growers, and the like that you can spend several days exploring it and still miss stuff.
Having said that, I was surprised by the shallow depth of many of the conference seminars. A lot of them felt geared to new breweries or those in planning and, while that's fine, there wasn't that much information available that we haven't been covering in Australia for some time.
In a similar vein, a lot of the most important conversations involving CBC happened outside the conference itself. Tennessee is a state that is increasingly hostile to the LGBTQI+ community and the Brewers Association had nothing to say about it. This despite opening the conference with talking points around "beer people being good people" and how important breweries are in making positive change, while also addressing how craft beer isn't nearly popular enough among Gen Z, women and BIPOC drinkers.
One of the speakers, Ren Navarro, outlined the issues and her own concerns about not feeling safe, which you can find through her beer_diversity Instagram highlights. There's also an open letter to the BA that details the concerns of attendees which you can read here.
The beers I've enjoyed most in recent days are…
Westbound & Down Brewing picked up a silver medal for their Spirit of the West IPA and, despite being based in Colorado Springs, they have a small taproom in Denver. So, naturally, I made a beeline from the plane to the venue to enjoy it and it, and their house IPA didn't disappoint.
You can look out for more Letters From America before Will returns to Australia, as well as his upcoming feature on the experiences of some of the Aussies making their first trip to the Craft Brewers Conference.