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8 Must-See 2019 Craft Brewers Conference Seminars

The Brewers Association’s (BA) biggest event of the year, the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) & BrewExpo America, officially kicks off Tuesday in Denver.

From April 8-11, CBC will bring more than 13,000 brewing industry professionals to the Colorado Convention Center for networking, brand launches and social gatherings. The festivities begin on April 9 when Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of English heavy metal band Iron Maiden — which has its own line of “Trooper” beers — delivers this year’s keynote address. BA leaders will also share announcements and update members on its new political action committee. And later that evening, Brewbound will present its first Brew Talks event of 2019, sponsored by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, at Cervantes’ Masterpiece.

With more than 70 educational seminars and tons of networking opportunities (and parties), CBC can be daunting. To help attendees plan their schedules effectively, Brewbound has picked eight seminars that shouldn’t be skipped.

Tuesday, April 9

Legal and Government Affairs Update

The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reduction Act and its two-years of excise tax relief finally became law in 2018. However, those tax breaks expire at the end of 2019. Marc Sorini, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, will provide an update on the renewal efforts as well as other topics, such as increased trade practice enforcement by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), cannabis legalization and more during this annual legal briefing.

Retailer Panel

With thousands of beer companies vying for limited shelf space, gaining placement at off-premise retailers has become increasingly difficult. Bump Williams Consulting will discuss ways to win in the grocery channel with beer category managers from major chains Kroger and King Soopers, as well as Seismic Brewing vice president of sales and marketing Tom McGinty.

Wednesday, April 10

General Session II — State of the Industry

The annual “state of the industry” address by the BA chief economist Bart Watson and senior VP Paul Gatza is a must-attend session. Expect industry commentary from Gatza, while Watson will provide a high-level overview of the latest craft brewing trends, including an updated brewery count, openings and closings numbers, an analysis of craft beer market share, style trends, average pricing and more. If you only attend a single session, make it this one.

Craft Beer HR Panel: Focusing on Employee Retention & Maintaining Culture

Maintaining a strong company culture as your brewery grows isn’t an easy balance to achieve. HR directors and managers from Bell’s Brewery, Alaskan Brewing, Russian River, Rhinegeist and The Bruery will share tips on developing and maintaining company culture while reducing staff turnover.

Thursday, April 11

From Sneaker Shops to Yarn Swaps: Making Community Partnerships to Cultivate Diversity

During last year’s CBC, Brewers Association diversity ambassador Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham addressed the challenges and opportunities of diversifying the brewing industry. “If you’re going to grow, you cannot simply sell beer just to white dudes with beards,” she told hundreds of brewers. Jackson-Beckham returns this year with a panel featuring Beer Diversity owner Ren Navarro, Queers Makin’ Beers founder Rebecca Sandidge, Black Brew Culture founder and CEO Mike Potter and others to discuss how to create authentic community partnerships.

Crafting an Intersection: Cannabis, Beer and Cannabeers

Legal cannabis and its effect on the beer category has understandably become a regular topic of discussion and concern at industry events, as sales in North America are projected to exceed $20 billion over the next three years. Jessica Lukas, vice president of consumer insights for BDS Analytics, will give an overview of the legal cannabis market as well as updated sales projections. She will also share insights into cannabis consumers and how craft brewers can capitalize on this new market opportunity..

Who Is Your Brewery and What Do You Do? How to Define, Market and Align Your Brand

With more than 7,000 breweries in operation, differentiating from the pack has become increasingly important. In a panel discussion, Denver Westword writer Jonathan Shikes will discuss staying true to your brand with a panel featuring Rhinegeist Brewery’s Bryant Goulding, New Belgium’s Andrew Emerton, Ratio Beerworks’ Tristan Chan and Rising Tide’s Kailey Partin.

Growing into the Headwinds – the Sequel!

As more breweries fight for a smaller share of the growth pie, some brewers are bucking trends. An all-star panel featuring Karl Strauss co-founder Chris Cramer, Russian River co-owner Natalie Cilurzo, Brooklyn Brewery CEO Eric Ottaway and Firestone Walker co-founder David Walker will share strategies for growing through a more challenging market with Benj Steinman of Beer Marketer’s Insights.

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