Earlier this month, more than 13,000 beer industry professionals converged on Washington, D.C., for the 34th annual Craft Brewers Conference, hosted by trade group the Brewers Association.
Highlighting the multi-day event were a pair of general sessions that included remarks from Brewers Association CEO Bob Pease, Allagash Brewing founder Rob Tod, BA director Paul Gatza and BA chief economist Bart Watson, among others.
In his address, Pease set the tone for the weeklong conference with a familiar rallying cry: independence matters.
In an interview following his on-stage comments, Pease also said the organization planned to focus its outbound messaging around four key pillars: independence, authenticity, collaborative spirit and community-mindedness.
“We think it does matter to the beer drinker – who makes the beer – and that is where you will see renewed energy and focus from the BA,” he told Brewbound.
Allagash founder Rob Tod, who also serves as the chair of the BA board of directors, echoed Pease in his own opening day address and characterized the state of the beer business as in the midst of a “tectonic shift.”
“We should be gravely concerned when we hear themes like ‘independence does not matter to the beer drinker,’” he said.
That “tectonic shift” Tod referred to was discussed on day two as well, when BA director Paul Gatza and chief economist Bart Watson delivered their annual “State of the Industry” presentation that highlighted slower growth trends and looked at the evolving makeup of businesses within the craft segment.
“It’s slowing down, that’s true,” Gatza said. “But there’s still a lot of growth out there, and somebody’s going to get that growth.”
Slowing growth and the maturation of the craft beer category were also topics of discussion at Brewbound’s Brew Talks meetup, held in partnership with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery on Tuesday, April 11, at Penn Social.
“Shit’s getting real,” Dogfish founder Sam Calagione said. “Now is the time to rage against the machine.”
Relive CBC and Brew Talks
If you couldn’t make it to Foggy Bottom and you’re wondering what you missed, or if you simply want to look back at the largest annual gathering of craft brewing industry professionals, check out our video recaps (above and below).
You can also revisit our coverage of the 2017 CBC using the following links:
- Brew Talks CBC 2017: Calagione, Walker and Goulding Discuss a Maturing Craft Beer Market (Video)
- Evolving Three-Tier Dynamics Discussed at Brew Talks CBC 2017 (Video)
- Brewers Association CEO: Independence, Authenticity Will Fuel Success
- Brewers Association: Double-Digit Growth is Unsustainable
- BA to Crack Down on Offensive Beer Labels
- Beer Institute CEO Jim McGreevy Discusses Latest on Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (Video)