901659_10200484149162373_1975492270_oLast week, close to 6500 craft beer professionals descended upon our nation’s capital, just a hop, skip, and jump down the 270 Brewing Corridor from our burgeoning, little craft beer community here in Frederick.

The main ballroom during the awards and keynote address on day one was a sea of people – press, brewers, wholesalers, and a variety of other brewing industry professionals. It was a truly awesome sight to see.

Kim Jordan, the keynote speaker and CEO and founder of New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins truly put the growth of the industry, and this year’s attendance in perspective. She cited the fact that only ten years earlier when she was last the keynote speaker at the CBC, attendance was only 995. “This year it’s over 6400,” she said and added that craft beer is seven percent of the national market, but that the industry’s “influence is outsized for our growth rate.”

One of the most influential people in the craft beer industry, she had a number of key points in her speech, as she told the brewers, “you have kicked this thing’s ass, and I am so proud of you.” She continued, telling the assembly, “here we are, fueled by a passion for craft….for us, brewing beer isn’t a random career choice, it’s a lifestyle…think big about the kind of future we can create for ourselves….The overarching premise now, as it was ten years ago, is that we are a collective…we own a brand together called American Craft Brewers…We’re the best thing to happen to this industry since the repeal of Prohibition…Beer drinkers are more educated than ever…Beer drinkers are counting on us to be the guardians of quality.”

The theme of growth in general, growth against the 93 percent, and industry innovation was reflected in the comments of those recognised by the Brewer’s Association.

2013 FX Matt Defense of the Industry Award went to David Katleski, founder of the NY State Brewer’s Association and Empire Brewing Company was recognized for his work putting together the NYSBA, and his work in getting the New York governor to put together a beer and wine summit that led to changes in New York’s beer and wine laws. “The big dog doesn’t always win, keep up the good fight,” he told the masses when he accepted his award.

This year’s Brewer’s Association Recognition Award went to Art Larrance, founder of Cascade Brewing and the Raccoon Lodge & Brewpub. Larrance also started a small beer fest that has since grown. His baby, the Oregon Beer Festival brings an estimate $27 million to the local economy.

The Russell Schehrer (Wynkoop) Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing went to European ex-pat Peter Bouckaert of New Belgium who observed, “This is the most innovative country right now in beer.”

The event was rife with great industry-specific seminars, and a spectacular trade show. Throughout the week as I wandered, I ran into a number of brewers working to open new facilities, and a number of people I know from the industry. And it reinforced my belief that craft beer people are the best people in the world.

Tapped and Uncapped

This week I’m bringing you a beer from Frederick Beer Week’s presenting sponsor, Flying Dog. This one might be hard to find, but it’s out there (I just had it over at the Roast House) – Flying Dog’s Pumpernickel IPA. This is unusual, different, a little spicy, a little malty, and very likely pairs very, very well with a Reuben….hmmm…maybe those little Reuben balls at JoJo’s.

Either way…paired or on its own, this is a beer worth a try. 

Until next week, be well and drink good beer.