Don’t Miss These 9 Seminars at the 2015 Craft Brewers Conference


In just one week, more than 10,000 beer industry professionals will descend on Portland, Ore. for the Brewers Association’s annual Craft Brewers Conference.

This year’s event, happening April 14-17 at the Oregon Convention Center, is slated to be the organization’s largest conference ever. And if you’re anything like us, your calendar is filling up faster than one of those fancy TurboTaps can pour an ice cold Bud Light.

Of course, one of the many highlights of CBC week is the opportunity to network with so many different industry stakeholders and partake in a truly overwhelming amount of social events — some of which we’ll highlight later this week.

But one of the most valuable experiences for any craft beer entrepreneur attending the CBC show is the opportunity to hear some of the industry’s most successful brewers, distributors and retailers read from a few pages of their playbooks.

Whether its learning strategies for selling more beer or understanding the importance of succession planning, there seems to be a seminar for breweries of all shapes and sizes. But trying to decide which talks to attend is the stuff hangovers are made of. That’s why we’ve hand-selected 9 must-see seminars for the beer company owner looking to take his or her business to the next level.


What: The General Session

  • Who: Paul Gatza (BA), Bart Watson (BA), Simon Sinek (Author) and more!
  • Where: Veterans Memorial Coliseum
  • When: April 15, 9:15 AM – 11:00 AM
  • Why: Don’t be the person that misses the general session. Seriously.

What: Maintaining Flagship Brands

  • Who: John Barley (Solemn Oath), Jeff Billingsley (Deschutes), Tommy Gannon (Sierra), Harry Schumacher (Beer Business Daily)
  • Where: Level 2, Oregon Ballroom 201
  • When: April 15, 1:20 PM — 2:20 PM
  • Why: Don’t you want to know what keeps consumers coming back to Black Butte Porter and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale?

What: Retailer Panel

  • Who: (Jeff Nowicki, BUMP Williams Consulting), The Kroger corporate buying team
  • Where: Level 2, Portland Ballroom 251 & 258
  • When: April 15, 1:20 PM — 2:20 PM
  • Why: Learning what kinds of products make the cut at America’s second-largest food retailer will make you a better salesperson. Trust us.


What: Continuing the Evolution of Beer Distribution

  • Who: Mark Sorini (McDermitt Will & Emery)
  • Where: Level 2, Portland Ballroom 253
  • When: April 16, 9:00 AM — 10:00 AM
  • Why: Because franchise law reform and craft’s state-level legislative efforts are VERY important topics.
  • PRO TIP: Set an early alarm, break a sweat and grab a coffee. You can thank us later.

What: Using Brewing Industry and Economic Data to Grow Your Business

  • Who: Lester Jones (NBWA), Bart Watson (Brewers Association)
  • Where: Level 2, Portland Ballroom 251 & 258
  • When: April 16, 1:20 PM — 3:40 PM
  • Why: Because data ain’t cheap — get it while it’s free!

What: From Bill to Growler Fill: How Brewers Can Win Over Special Interests

  • Who: Brook Bristow (South Carolina Brewers Guild), Wesley Donehue (Push Digital), Will McCameron (Brewery 85)
  • Where: Level 2, Portland Ballroom 254
  • When: April 16, 2:40 PM — 3:40 PM
  • Why: Learn strategies for advancing craft brewery interests at the state level.

What: Halfway Home? Craft Continues Climbing, But Ascent Gets More Complicated

  • Who: Benj Steinman
  • Where: Level 2, Oregon Ballroom 201
  • When: April 16, 2:40 PM — 3:40 PM
  • Why: Steinman’s presentations are a cornerstone of the Craft Brewers Conference.


What: Assessing Your Markets: How Do you Truly Know How Your Beer is Doing?

  • Who: Dave Cole (Epic Brewing), Greg Dolan (Keen Strategy), Christopher Rice (All About Beer), JB Shireman (First Beverage Group)
  • Where: Level 2, Portland Ballroom 251 & 258
  • When: April 17 1:00 PM — 2:00 PM
  • Why: Because the art of proper forecasting is the most important thing a salesman can learn.

What: Planning for an Exit: How to Prepare for an Ownership Transition

  • Who: John McDonald (Boulevard), Christine Perich (New Belgium), Michael Harden (Eureka Capital) and others
  • Where: Level 2, Oregon Ballroom 201
  • When: April 17 2:20 PM — 3:20 PM
  • Why: Succession planning is today’s hottest issue. Every owner should have an exit strategy.

The Brewbound crew will be touching down at PDX on Monday evening and heading straight to the first mustachioed hipster (in plaid of course) willing to pour us a pint. Feel free to drop us a line if you’ll be in town on Monday.