Craft Brewers Conference 2016 -- Hello, Philadelphia!

“Holy shit you guys! I’ve been thinking about what to say since December 3rd….”

That’s how I opened my first ever Craft Brewers Conference presentation. Actually, my first presentation to an international audience. I think it captured everyone’s attention and set the tone for a pretty good conversation about crafting a brand. Jason (my hubby) said that I “killed it” so there's that.

Our week in Philadelphia started out with my husband and I attending the Wholesaler Symposium on Monday and Tuesday. They had some great ideas on how wholesalers could partner with their craft beer suppliers and “brand their portfolios” (as Michael Kiser from Good Beer Hunting put it during his presentation on Tuesday). “You have to tell a story that is bigger than beer,” Kiser said. Yep, I couldn’t agree more. It was amazing to learn about how many new breweries the United States could expect in the coming years. I think the statistic was there were 6,080 registered breweries in the United States as of December 2015, and that number is only going up. Wholesalers and breweries will need to distinguish themselves in an already crowded marketplace. Partnering with the right distributor can make all the difference in a brewery’s growth and success.

We were able to hang out with some of our distributor partners and enjoy some of Philly’s local beer. One of my favorite styles was the Allagash White, although we sampled quite a few over the week and many more deserve mention here, but I have never claimed to give an accurate beer review, I just enjoy consuming it.

Tuesday night, more than 6,000 conference attendees flocked to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the Welcome Reception. What an amazing venue to host a bunch of craft beer lovers! Food and tastings were placed throughout the museum among the beautiful, priceless pieces of art. It created quite a magical experience for those of us who hadn’t ever climbed the Rocky stairs before.

Wednesday morning opened the conference with a Keynote from Billy Beane and continued with some excellent choices of educational seminars to attend. I went to hear what Abby Berman, Julia Herz, and Ginger Johnson had to say about marketing a craft brewery. Abby said it was great to include infographics in your press releases to make them more visually stimulating, and Julia talked about responding to negative comments. (Hint: Don’t get defensive!)

Thursday and Friday continued with great learning experiences, visiting the expo, meeting new friends (um, hello Tanzenwald!), and a bit of sightseeing. I was able to meet one of the co-founders of Elysian Brewing Company, David. He was lucky enough to hop on the stool next to me at the hotel bar! And we went to a Odell Brewing happy hour and met the owner, Doug. I am overwhelmed with the generosity and kindness that people in this industry have for one another. I’m not sure I’ve experienced this type of collaboration in other industries; it was a refreshing experience. Over those few days, Jason and I took in some of the history and art in around town, too. I mean, you can’t go to Philly without seeing the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall! I really loved visiting the Magic Gardens. It was indeed magical.

Oh - and of course MY presentation on Friday at 2:00! The piece of my presentation I really wanted to drill into everyone was to ALWAYS BE DOCUMENTING. So, in true Tami style, I took a selfie with everyone! 

[Tweet "Always be documenting #CraftYourBeerBrand #CBC16."]

Throughout the presentation I highlighted a Minnesota Brewery; Forager Brewing Company. I lead the attendees through their successful launch and pointed out how everyone could authentically craft THEIR own brand. (If you're interested, download the worksheet at http://bit.ly/CraftYourBeerBrand.) I loved that Austin, the head brewer from Forager, attended and was able to chat with his peers after we were finished, too! What a great partnership we have built!

We also talked about the importance of walking the walk, staying true to your brand, and what other touch points to consider when creating your brand. We were lucky enough to partner with OOWEE Products to give away some co-branded swag. Finding strategic partners is an amazing way to spread the word. After I finished my slide deck, I opened it up to questions. There was a lot of focus on social media. Maybe next year (as I’m positive they would have me back -- ha!) I should talk about using social media to tell your story. Stay tuned for that one.

The week was a blur of good beer, new friends, and some time away with the hubby. We had a great week and learned a lot about the state of the industry and how we can better serve our craft beer partners. Thanks, Philly!

CBC16 Collage