In early November, the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild held its fourth annual conference at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem. The event attracts brewer, affiliate, retail, and other members from across the state a to learn, network, and celebrate the advances made as an organization.
The guild also provides a scholarship opportunity for women, people of color, and veterans who want to attend the conference. Scholarship recipients receive the full cost of attendance, including conference registration, hotel, and a travel stipend.
The event kicked off with pre-conference bonus sessions dedicated to start-ups, brewpubs, and taprooms. Julia Herz, craft beer program director at the Brewers Association, provided an industry update on the second day. She covered the work the Brewers Association does in the realm of technical brewing and promotion. She then took a deeper dive into U.S. beer market statistics and what she sees as opportunities for small and independent craft brewers. Following Julia’s presentation was an inspiring keynote given by David Oakley of BooneOakley, encouraging brewers to find ways to tell there story. Other topics covered throughout the conference were quality, safety, government affairs, sales, and marketing.
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Each day, conference attendees had the opportunity to browse the expo, featuring 101 exhibitor booths. This was the largest North Carolina Craft Brewer Conference expo to date.
A craft brewing industry conference wouldn’t be complete without the opportunity to network with fellow attendees. A dinner and award banquet was held during the conference honoring both industry members and state legislators that fight on behalf of small brewers in the capital. Local brewers Fiddlin’ Fish Brewing Co and Foothills Brewing hosted after-parties each night of the conference for attendees.
The North Carolina guild is led by recently hired Executive Director Andrew Lemley, and works to educate, promote, and protect the state’s craft brewers. With over 200 breweries at the end of 2016, the state is leading the charge for craft brewing in the south.