The first New England Craft Brew Summit was held on April 1 in Portland, Maine, on the campus of the University of Southern Maine. Dick Cantwell, Brewers Association quality ambassador, gave the keynote speech to nearly 500 attendees, who had come from throughout New England. The Maine Brewers’ Guild hosted the one-day conference with the goal of bringing together experts, industry leaders, vendors and brewers of all backgrounds. The event featured talks on a number of subjects within the business and technical tracks, including Good Manufacturing Practices, a subject at the core of Dick’s message. Maine legislators also attended and witnessed firsthand the success of local craft brewers, indicating their contributions to job creation and the tax base.
The campus location allowed attendees to visit the new brewing-focused labs at the University of Southern Maine. Lucille Benedict, Associate Professor of Chemistry, is spearheading a project that teaches students brewing-related lab techniques and offers Maine brewers product testing for a nominal fee. The Maine Brewers’ Guild sponsors the program, which provides local craft brewers access to resources that can directly improve their quality programs.
Attendees approached Dick throughout the conference to offer positive feedback and many voiced their conviction that quality must be at the forefront of brewers’ minds if they are to produce the best possible beer. Executive Director Sean Sullivan and the rest of the Maine Brewers’ Guild staff can be proud that the inaugural conference was a huge success.