In early spring, the craft brewing world will descend upon Washington, D.C. for the Craft Brewers Conference. The annual event is produced by the Brewers Association — the folks behind the Great American Beer Festival — but instead of being geared toward beer drinkers, this gathering is for the folks who make the beer.
If you’re a craft brewer, you will want to sign up (here). A four-day schedule is full of seminars, tours, and a trade show known as BrewExpo America. (If you’re not a professional, and don’t have the extra grand to attend the entire conference, you can still get a ticket for the two-day expo for half that cost.) Tickets to the official welcome reception on Tuesday, March 26, are just $50, so if you are planning to be in the D.C. area around that time, you might want to pick one up — you’ll meet many brew-famous folks, along with plenty of up and coming brewers.
New Belgium Brewing co-founder and CEO Kim Jordan will give the keynote address, returning 10 years after her speech at the conference in New Orleans. In 2003, she famously called for craft brewers to try to reach 10 percent of all U.S. beers sales — a goal that has become very close to coming true: in 2011, craft beer accounted for 9.1% of all beer sales in the country.
This time around, Jordan will talk about how she’s grown New Belgium into the third-largest craft brewery in the U.S., and discuss how craft brewers can grow while still being environmentally and socially responsible. New Belgium now uses wind-powered electricity and has Colorado’s largest private solar array, at the Fort Collins facility.