2018 Craft Brewers Conference Highlights

RMA’s Kevin Crowder and Farrell Tiller, Economic Development experts, recently attended the Brewers Association’s (BA) Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America® (CBC) in Nashville, Tennessee.

Over 15,000 industry members took center stage at the Music City Center, from April 30 to May 3, to participate in the most significant Craft Brewers Conference to date.

The three-day conference included 79 seminars across 12 educational tracks with over 200 speakers. The keynote speeches this year were delivered by Paul Saginaw, co-owner and founding partner of Zingerman, and Deborah Carey, founder and president of New Glarus Brewing Company.

There were extensive discussions concerning the adoption of the Independent Craft label, growth potential, innovative new ways to market, legislative successes in many states to expand small brewer rights, and the recent passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act.

At the conclusion of the conference, the BA presented the results of one of the beer industry’s most prestigious competitions, the 2018 World Beer Cup awards, considered by many the “Olympics of Beer.”

“Beer brings people together,” said Charlie Papazian, founder and past president, Brewers Association. “The World Beer Cup showcases the breadth of the global brewing community and winning an award symbolizes one of the greatest brewing achievements.”

Florida Breweries were well represented at the conference with several taking home awards. The Tank Brewing Co. received the gold medal for French and Belgian-Style Saison with its La Finca Miami. Fort Myers Brewing Co.’s Somebody Else’s Dream won silver in the Chocolate Beer category. Dunedin Brewery (Florida’s oldest craft brewery) also won a silver in Fruited Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer for its Ritual Madness. Lastly, Concrete Beach (Wynwood) earned the bronze medal for the Vienna-Style Lager with the Havana Lager.

Conference takeaways

  • Florida is an underserved craft beer market with a lot of opportunity for growth. (Ranked 42nd in breweries per capita). It is vital for government agencies to pay attention to their local market conditions rather than national trends.
  • State law, particularly those governing self-distribution, continue to be a barrier for craft breweries.
  • Growth in a Competitive Market, the pace of growth at which breweries are opening is starting to slow, but craft beer continues to gain market share.
    • Nationwide, there is an average of two brewery openings a day
    • Large breweries continue to acquire craft to keep market share
    • Distribution channels for craft are becoming crowded
  • Opportunities for local breweries and brewpubs: in 2016-2017 brewpubs grew at a rate of 14.8% compared to 0.9% for regional breweries.
  • More are coming, 7,700+ active TTB licenses as of March 31, 2017
  • In a crowded marketplace, brewing great beer is no longer enough. The need for differentiation is becoming increasingly crucial for breweries, and especially brewpubs. Breweries that have found success have done so by enhancing the experiential nature of the brewery and beer that they create. Examples include creating a warm and inviting environment that connects with the community, pairing beers with craft foods, and using unique ingredients to create one-of-a-kind flavorful beers.

Craft breweries are a proven tool for revitalization and continue to successfully help communities jumpstart economic development in challenging or blighted areas.

Visit www.rma.us/beer to connect with us and for more details on how the RMA team is leading the Craft Brewery approach to Economic Development!