A record number of more than 770 homebrewers, professional craft brewers and beer enthusiasts gathered in Las Vegas June 17 – 19, the second year in a row that attendance has surpassed previous records.
“The AHA National Homebrewers Conference has evolved into a monster of a great event. With 776 attendees sharing the revelry and education, this was the most fun I’ve had around beer all year,” stated American Homebrewers and Association of Brewers Director Paul Gatza.
With a surge of grassroots participation, the 26th annual AHA National Homebrewers Conference gave a glimpse into the future of the brewing industry. It expanded and sharpened palates with 400 kegs filled with many brews unique to themselves and about 60 brew styles, ranging from American Pale Ale and Barley wine to Coffee Mead.
“Homebrewers have so much to offer the professional brewers because of their endless ability to create and experiment on a small scale,” says Vinnie Cilurzo, brewer for Russian River Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa, Calif. “I think the professional brewer can offer a lot of support to the homebrewing community by the way of recipe development. Not only could the audience sample the beer but they could see how the recipe related to the brew and its flavor profile.”
Cilurzo was one of the 25 speakers that gave educational talks Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Other conference speakers included brewers and authors such as Tomme Arthur, head brewer at the Pizza Port in Solana Beach, Calif.; Ray Daniels, author of Designing Great Beers; Michael Ferguson, brewmaster at Barley’s Brewery in Henderson, Nev.; Geoff Larson, brewmaster of Alaskan Brewing Co.; Tom Nickel, head brewer for the Oggi’s Pizza and Brewing Co.; Charlie Papazian, president and founder of the Association of Brewers and the American Homebrewers Association and Ken Schramm, author of The Complete Meadmaker.
Presentations at this year’s conference covered a wide range of topics including brewing, beer culture and beer history. In addition to the usual talks on specific beer styles and brewing techniques, this year’s program sought to include other beverage education such as a single malt scotch whiskey tasting and honey wine fermentation.