Over 13,000 beer industry members from around the world gathered in Washington DC last week for the annual Craft Brewers Conference hosted by the Brewers Association. About 1,600 breweries were present along with 901 exhibitors. It was the largest BrewExpo America tradeshow ever at the CBC, with 584,000 square feet dedicated to exhibits. The Welcome Reception alone was bigger than the CBC was just a decade ago, with 6000 attendees filling the iconic Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and American History.
The conference literally filled the city, with seemingly every bar and restaurant in the DC area filled with beer industry members. There was a vast number of special events held during the evening hours, from dance parties to tap take-overs, beer dinners and special release events.
This years conference included two General Sessions. The General Session highlight for many each year, which has affectionally become known as the “Paul and Bart Show,” includes Bart Watson, economist from the BA and BA Director Paul Gatza, giving the latest industry statistics and analysis. This year they discussed a marketplace that is increasingly crowded and competitive, putting a squeeze on the midsize “regional” breweries, but showing room from growth in the smaller, neighborhood focused categories. In 2016, the BA saw 6% volume growth within the BA-defined craft market, while the overall beer market remained flat. Volume share for craft was 12.3% and dollar share was 29%. Paul stressed to the audience that adaptability will be key and that the continued success of craft breweries will be based on quality and business models.
The remainder of the three-day conference included 72 seminars across 11 educational tracks and 140 speakers.
Next year the CBC will be held in Nashville, TN.