Today was the Ontario Craft Brewer’s Conference. My class is scheduled to go gratis to the next one, in 2015, but I decided to go to this year’s anyway. I did waffle for a bit about going (I am after all a broke student, and have other uses for the $165 registration fee), but Thursdays are a light day, and more education with a side of networking never goes amiss.
I talked to so many people; it was wonderful! I had a great chat with a lovely Scottish gentleman named Paul who is the brewmaster for Eden Brewery in Scotland, who told me that the craft beer market there seems quite similar to here. I wonder if I could convince Keith to retire there?
I ran into Erica from Black Oak, who informed me that there was some of their elusive Anniversary Series Epiphany 1 being sampled at one of the bars (of course there would be beer with lunch at a beer conference). I hustled over and got my glass filled with this lovely Belgian Quad aged on cherry wood – just as delicious as I’d suspected it would be.
I also got a chance to talk with brewmasters I had met at other events; Lon from Big Rig, Paul from Flying Monkeys and Tina from Junction Craft. There were many other people I spoke beer with, and explored the vendor area asking a tonne of questions.
The sessions I attended were pretty informative, if somewhat general. First up was a session on packaging with representatives from a company that does the bottle and can wraps (interesting because of low minimums) and from two different glass agents.
Next was one entitled Real World Sustainability with Steve from Beau’s and Cher from Provision Coalition. This was less about how Beau’s is meeting their sustainability mandate and more about the Provision Coalition’s free online tools for tracking and monitoring sustainability goals.
I wasn’t sure what to go to for the third session as none of them really grabbed my attention, and eventually decided to to hear Andy Gould talk about how to set up a micro lab on the cheap. So glad I went! He had all kinds of cost saving work-arounds.
Last was a session on the risks and rewards of contract brewing. This was more from the legal side of things, which was hard to focus on after having a few beers with lunch.