Sensory Training and Educational Experiences at the Florida Brewers Conference

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The Florida Brewers Conference took place on August 6-8 at the Renaissance Sea World in Orlando, Fla. The event was very well-attended with over 500 brewers and industry trade members.

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The conference was an educational experience from start to finish. The first day featured a sold-out sensory training session by Sam Swartz, Senior Lab Tech at Coppertail Brewing Co in Tampa, Fla. Including both aromas and off-flavors, the course explored the origins of 20+ flavors, as well as practical applications for sensory awareness in the brewery.

Kicking off the second day was a keynote from Lew Bryson, a celebrated beer and spirits author and past judge at the Great American Beer Festival®. After the keynote, attendees split into breakout sessions on a variety of topics. Highlights included a panel on mental health in breweries, an instructional talk on keg repair with MicroMatic’s Steve Bradt, a discussion on how to talk about beer with John Holl of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine, and a great talk on common mistakes made by brewery startups with consultant Audra Gaiziunas from Brewed for Her Ledger.

Florida Brewers GuildFinally, the third day started with a short address from the Florida Brewers Guild’s executive director Sean Nordquist, president Kent Bailey, and lobbyist/in-house counsel Josh Aubuchon. Following were more breakout sessions, including my own talk on the meaning of quality for today’s brewer and the craft brewing industry as a whole. I especially enjoyed meeting with several attendees afterwards to discuss their questions, mainly about how to have difficult conversations about quality in their breweries. Other seminars included a panel discussion on quality, a presentation on brewery taxes, and a panel on yeast management and barrel aging.

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Ample networking time was also on the docket for the event. In between seminars attendees perused a trade show featuring over 60 exhibitors, and on Tuesday evening, attendees were bused to Crooked Can Brewing for a nice event featuring a variety of local beers and food from several local vendors.