Report from a pilgrimage: to the Brew Expo 2016

Cheese Steak, Rocky Balboa, Liberty Bell – so much for Philadelphia’s salient features. Well, almost. Because the east coast’s second-biggest metropolis definitely has a bit more to offer.

As I found out for myself last week, when I ventured over the Atlantic for the Craft Brewers Conference. Actually, the trade fair experience had already begun at Munich Airport, where quite accidentally, while I was waiting to check in, I overheard people talking about hop price trends, met some colleagues from Steinecker, and from the people sitting near me in the plane I heard some initial opinions on Pennsylvania’s beers. So the world of beer is on a pilgrimage to Philadelphia.

For many, the week already kicked off on Monday with the CBC’s varied program of seminars – an opportunity for the smaller brewers in particular to expand their professional expertise, to exchange empirical feedback, and to widen their own horizons. While in the seminar rooms knowledge was being eagerly exchanged, in the adjoining exhibition hall the final preparations were being made for the BrewExpo America.

And this year it was quite something to see – in every respect! Approximately twice as large as last year’s event in Portland, with more exhibitors, more visitors, and an impressive diversity of themes: want a beermat? No problem. Looking for customisable merchandising products? Just round the corner. Interested in the latest hop varieties? Merely follow your nose. Solutions for process technology or bottling kit? Stay right here – after all, we had some of that on our own stand. 😉

The visitors in the Pennsylvania Convention Center were concomitantly diverse as well. Owners of brew pubs both small and large, home-brewers desiring to grow, “fully-fledged” mid-tier breweries, and other guests from highly disparate backgrounds crowded the aisles and the stands exchanging news and views. And this is precisely what constituted the charm of this event. For example, I met representatives of the only German micro-brewery in the Rocky Mountains (who, by the way, proudly flaunt some very impressive facial hair), chatted to the oldest owners of our recently premiered Craftmate, and learned that not only I myself, but also brewers occasionally need some extra tuition when it comes to calculating costs and performance.

And beer? Yes, there was plenty of beer around too, of course. In innumerable different variants and sampling-friendly quantities. However, the plastic beakers tended to put a bit of a damper on the hedonic experience – so it’s a good thing that Philadelphia also has plenty of pubs with a bounteous choice of beers outside the exhibition center.


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