Just as the number of craft breweries has increased to 4,400 and counting, so has the number of attendees at the annual Craft Brewers Conference (CBC). The 2016 conference took place from May 3-6 at the Philadelphia Convention Center and drew nearly 13,000 participants.
This being my first CBC, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The conference exceeded my expectations in every facet; informative seminars, omnipresent samples of beer, a massive vendor expo, a bus tour, visits to local breweries and restaurants, the World Beer Cup Awards ceremony, and did I mention… beer?
This post details my experiences on a given day. Future entries will highlight social events and quality control seminars I attended.
7 a.m.: Wake up at the hotel, look around and remember where I am. Beer from the previous night may or may not have contributed to a sense of confusion. Few hotels had vacancy by the time I booked my reservation and those that remained were exorbitantly priced. The hotel I settled on was about three miles away from the Convention Center and served my purpose well.
7:30 a.m.: Check FB, Twitter, Instagram and the CBC mobile app. Plan the conferences and events I will attend that day. There were many more events than one person could possibly attend. And rightly so- there’s no way 13,000 people would have been able to fit in the same room for every seminar/lecture.
8:15 a.m.: Hop in an Uber and make conversation with someone named Davina while sitting on a tiger blanket. Uber was my top choice for transportation while in Philly. It was possible to get anywhere in the city within a few minutes and a few dollars.
9 a.m. – Noon: Arrive at the Convention Center, grab a quick bite, and attend various general session talks including the keynote presentation given by Billy Beane.
Noon: Wander about the BrewExpo America show (i.e. massive vendor maze) and ponder if it’s time to have a sample of beer yet. Yep, it’s beer-thirty.
1 p.m.: Realize I’ve missed lunch- which was more difficult to obtain than a sample of Russian River Supplication (not joking). Decide to stick with the “liquid lunch” beer samples instead, because what choice do I have?
2 p.m. – 5 p.m.: More seminars and workshops. Sleepy. Focused. Buzzed. Absorbing information and beer. In a happy and nerdy state of mind. The quality of the talks kept me motivated through the long afternoons.
“Sneak away”: At times, it was necessary to sneak away from the convention center activities for a break. Fortunately, the Reading Market was located across the street. The Reading Market is home to a vast array of reasonably priced food options. I had an alligator po boy and some gumbo.
5 p.m.: Text my Buffalo brewery friends with the question “What are you up to?” only to receive different responses from everyone. Realizing I can’t be everywhere at once, relax and watch some cornhole.
5:30 p.m.: Find a hospitality suite or venture off to a social event for dinner and, you guessed it, beer. One of my favorite events was the New York State Brewers Association social event held at Pennsylvania 6. There, I made some connections with people from across NY.
8 p.m.: It’s been a long day. Time to call it a night. Yeah, right… Before you know it another conversation had begun and another beer was being consumed.
10 p.m.: I was responsible: I’m back at the hotel.
1 a.m.: There was some party. Moar beer. I wasn’t responsible. But I’m back at the hotel. After a few hours of sleep, time to do it all again.