Back in 1996, the first Craft Brewers Conference in Portland, Oregon brought together about 200 die-hard craft brewers. If you had told them that, 20 years later, their ranks would have grown to 13,500, they would’ve laughed until beer came out their noses.
And yet there we were just a few weeks ago at Philadelphia’s Convention Hall and Civic Center, with 13,500 passionate people from all facets of the industry, gathered in the City of Brotherly Love for the 20th annual Craft Brewers Conference. Our hats are off to the men and women of craft beer and the Brewers Association who organized the largest CBC in history. Truly an amazing week with truly amazing people.
So what were our big takeaways from the 2016 CBC?
A better bitter
Haas’ Head Brewmaster, Virgil McDonald, and his brewing team outdid themselves at this year’s CBC, bringing seven amazing brews to sample at the show. Each beer featured at the Barth-Haas booth was brewed on our four-barrel Esau Huber system at the Haas Innovation Brewery in Yakima.
By all accounts, each brew was packed with flavor, but exceptionally balanced. What’s more amazing is that every beer featured at our booth was bittered with CO2 extract in the kettle. One of the major challenges in brewing is becoming more efficient while still creating unique and flavorful craft beers with quality ingredients. Adding CO2 extract to the kettle for bittering is becoming more popular among major craft brewers. And after tasting Virgil’s beer, it’s easy to see why.
There’s just something cool about trying something new. One of the main reasons we have an Innovations Brewery is our passion for helping you make great beer—to experiment and learn, to share our knowledge and to partner with industry innovators like you.
This year, we extended that fun outside the booth to events like Victory Brewing Company’s Aussie Tap Takeover at Strangelove’s. On tap, were hops from our sister-company within the Barth-Haas Group, Hop Products Australia (HPA), that included Ella™, Vic Secret™, HPA 035 and more. Victory’s imagination ran wild as HPA’s hops added interesting new character and aroma to their already incredibly poplar brands.
Then there was Bru-1 and Citra® hops. Combining those two hops creates a pineapple-like aroma and flavor. It’s no surprise that our show beer named Pineapple Xpress (Kettle-hopped with HBC 682 with Bru-1 and Citra hops added) was one of the most popular taps at the Haas Booth. Bru-1 is an experimental hop that has such a unique pineapple aroma that is unmatched in the available flavor spectrum of hop varieties.
Teamwork makes the dream work
One of the last major takeaways from CBC for me, personally, was the teamwork within Barth-Haas. I realized that if it hadn’t been for the partnership of an insightful agronomist and long-time Haas breeder Gene Probasco and an innovative brewer like Virgil, I’m not sure CBC attendees would have been able to taste our amazing hop creations in beers like they did Philadelphia.
That’s why it was great to see everyone working together, meeting new brewers and reuniting with old friends. From Haas’ sensory analysts and technical experts to our CEO, all the way to team members from our global network in Germany at Joh. Barth and Sohn, Barth-Haas UK & Simply Hops, Hop Products Australia, not to mention the entire John I. Haas team in the U.S. And we hope that you see our team as part of your team—helping you to create, to innovate and to get the quality hops you need to brew great craft beer.
We’re already looking forward to the next CBC in Washington, D.C where the BA will partner with Smithsonian to showcase the rich history of craft beer. After the 20 years craft just experienced, that history will surely be something to see.