Craft Beer Wholesalers Conference in Chicago

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The 7th annual Brewers Association Craft Brewers Conference concluded April 7, 2010 in Chicago. Two hundred forty-four craft beer distributors gathered to discuss topics including supplier-distributor interaction, logistics and warehouse, staff and business issues, information technology, and sales strategy and sales team. One hot topic was the discussion in the distributor’s role in beer weeks, which have been sweeping the U.S. At last count, we are aware of 30 beer weeks on the city, county or state level, plus American Craft Beer Week.

The Craft Beer Wholesalers Conference started in 2004 with 44 hardy people looking to see how others were approaching specific business issues. Greg Koch and Arlan Arnsten of Stone Brewing Co. founded the conference. Stone are brewers and also distribute the beers of 20 breweries in Southern California. At that time the event was called the Specialty Beer Wholesalers Conference.

The day of seminars concluded with suggestions for the future including collection, aggregation and presentation of survey data; a one-and-a-half day schedule to precede the Craft Brewers Conference; and the desire for breakout sessions for distributors of like sizes. The conference networking involved a reception at Goose Island’s Brewpub (Clybourn) and the Craft Brewers Conference welcome reception at the Field Museum.

–Paul Gatza

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