Planning for After the Craft Brewers Conference
You’ve successfully completed a trip to the Craft Brewers Conference. Now what?
Amid all the fun, education, and information overload there are several things you, a brewing professional, can do to make sure that the afterglow of the event continues and that lessons learned and connections made bring dividends to your company.
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Communicating with the Brewery Team
Life will very quickly get back to normal and very busy following a business trip. Set deadlines for cleaning up notes and stick to them. Also set up meetings with staff that might have missed the conference or were not in individual seminars. Present the information found and share thoughts on how what was learned can impact the brewery.
Set up a shared drive or have handouts available so that everyone on the team can participate. Then, have a brainstorm session on the various topics and see what new ideas might come from the information presented.
When possible, bring team members from other departments into these meetings. The sharing of information might lead to new ideas, efficiencies, or inspiration. This can also help with team building.
Continue the Education
A lot of time and talent goes into the presentations at the Craft Brewers Conference. With multiple tracks spread out over days it is impossible to be everywhere all at once. For the seminars you attended, look over any notes and add to them with additional perspective.
Transfer any written notes to a computer document (or clean up any notes taken on the computer) and prioritize the information learned in each session. What stands out and what information will benefit your career and the brewery? Use a system that works for you, like bullet points, or long-form narrative. Find and link to outside sources if necessary.
Having a clear idea of what was taught and how it can impact you will help with the next steps.
A benefit of registration is the ability to listen, afterwards, to seminars you might have missed or want to hear again. Taking the time to listen in on insights that are of professional interest, even if they are not part of your regular duties, can enhance your work knowledge.
A step further is finding the source materials used on panels or cited by companies and to read it yourself. The additional context in those books or papers will also help with your industry knowledge.
Create an Action Plan
Once the information is shared come up with a plan, including deadlines, to implement new action plans. This can include business plans, brewhouse recipes or efficiencies, packaging goals, or anything else covered. It is important to set deadlines and stick to them, since everyday life and responsibilities will continue to get in the way.
The goal of education is to improve, so finding ways to make sure the information that was learned is implemented will help a brewery grow in a meaningful way.
Stick to the Plan
Once your team has come up with a plan it’s time to stick with it. Make sure there are goals set and then met, and that communication along the way doesn’t break down. Have the clear goals in mind and have regular check-ins with yourself and others to ensure the eventual goal is met.
Keep in Touch
Store all of those numbers and emails from the business cards you gathered. You never know when they will come in handy. Take some time to follow companies you’ve interacted with on social media and to find the folks on panels and follow them as well.
Linked In has become a good resource in the brewing industry. It’s not only helpful for job searching but article and resource sharing.
While useful for keeping in touch those companies and individuals will likely post relevant content that will increase your knowledge or offer fresh inspiration.
If someone on a panel really provided great insight that has stuck with you, send them a note of appreciation. That little gesture always goes a long way.
World Beer Cup
The World Beer Cup has become an annual event, with final judging held during the conference and winners announced at the end.
If your brewery is selected over all the others and has earned accolades and bragging rights, there is still work to be done. Communicating a win to the larger public is important and can have a great benefit to the brewery’s bottom line.
It is smart to have a plan in advance. Know when results will be announced and have an idea of what you might post on social media if you win. A few quick hits can get people celebrating your win quickly. If photos are available from the competition, or images of a medal or award can be shared, get those out to the public.
Update all graphics and descriptions in a taproom, on merch, and certainly online as quickly as possible.
When the hardware arrives in the brewery make sure it is displayed where it can be viewed and try to have the beer on tap so people can enjoy pints of the winner. For seasonals that win but might not be on offer, plan an event for when it comes back on the board. Same for one-offs. If a beer wins, try to get it back on tap as quickly as possible. When the beers do come back on tap, host a big party and invite people to come out to taste what stood out to the judges.
Take pride that you took the chance in entering and won and share it as much as possible with whoever will listen. Even the most hardened of beer geeks will likely come and try an ESB if its picked up some hardware.
It is important to not lose any momentum. Having a plan in advance and then executing it can only help the brewery and make entering worthwhile.
Going to the Craft Brewers Conference is a big financial commitment for many small breweries. Having a plan in advance and afterwards will help ensure that there is a return on the investment, aside from just having a good time.
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