California Craft Brewers Association – Craft Beer Summit 2017

by Lauren Sandell, Lab Technician

Last week, the California Craft Brewers Association hosted their 3rd Annual Summit for breweries and related businesses. It consisted of two days filled with seminars, beer tastings, and a trade show, concluding with a beer tasting event on the Mall in Sacramento.

The opening address was given by the CA Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, and Beer Marketer’s Insights publisher and editor, Benj Steinman. An overview was given of the current state of the industry for craft beer in CA and nationwide. We learned quite a bit. I was most shocked by – and found it hard to believe -that there are now over 850 breweries in California alone! Conversely, data shows that IPAs make up about a third of beer sales, which is easy to believe when you walk into most taprooms these days. The opening remarks set the tone for the conference and allowed us attendees to feel inspired and empowered to make the most of the craft industry.

It’s no surprise that California hosts more than 850 breweries. LA has 66 alone!

There were a few tracks for the seminars, and as a lab geek, I was most intrigued by the Technical/Quality talks. Dr. Lewis from UC Davis gave his renowned insight on “Beer Quality” and others discussed their journeys to consistent and drinkable beers. Iconic brewers like Ken Grossman and David Walker lent their insights in growing and sustaining their businesses. Other discussions were about “All Beer is Chick Beer” and the ABC (US Alcohol Beverage Control) for the craft beer industry. The legislation talks were surprisingly engaging, and the seminars were a good mix of topics. Overall, lots of learning to be had.

Dr. Lewis speaks to the importance of quality. To paraphrase his knowledge: “To make a quality product, you must have a quality space.”

In the off hours, delicious beers were shared by many breweries from the state. My personal favorite was El Segundo Brewing’s “Mayberry IPA”; however, choosing a favorite is difficult because nearly every beer was scrumptious and satisfying.

My biggest take-aways from this event are:

  1. There are many breweries so, in order to be successful, each needs to find a way to differentiate themselves within a competitive market.
  2. With so many breweries, the best way to improve your product and invest in success is to set forth on improving internal quality programs and controls for the beer and the brewery.
  3. This brewing community is full of ambition and passion; I have no doubt that the craft beer industry will flourish for years to come.