Day Nine: Washington, DC
We took the Empire Service into our third visit to New York’s Penn station, before transferring to the Northeast Regional for a three hour jog to Union Station in Washington, DC. We arrived for the very beginning of the Craft Brewers Conference, a massive gathering of the craft brewing community and all of it’s tentacles, including brewery personnel, supply-side vendors, distributors, retailers and media.
The CBC is a conference I’ve been attending since 1996. It’s grown in epic proportions. In some ways it feels like a cozy family reunion because everywhere you go, you run into somebody you know. In other ways, it’s fairly overwhelming, because the city has just welcomed more than 15,000 people that are part of our “little” industry.
That overwhelm inspired me to help create the First Time Attendee Orientation, a welcoming reception hosted by the Brewers Association’s Event Committee, which I spoke at as a member of that committee. Besides the BA staff and several of my committee colleagues, there were a lot of fresh faces and wide eyes at this gathering. We do our best to give them some tips for survival and some faces to look for if they need help.
Following the First Timer’s event, we were able to spirit the President and CEO of the Brewers Association, Bob Pease, away for an engaging interview in one of the meeting rooms that was quiet for the time being.
From there, we attended the sprawling CBC Welcome Reception at the Smithsonian Museums. We drank beers, ate snacks and said hello to thousands of brewery folk, including many of our friends at New Holland. While our visit was short, I was struck by the sense of family in this industry. This includes warm and fuzzies of camaraderie, but also the palpable tension as a close-knit group heads into challenging times. Independents have “sold out”, people ask about whether a “shakeout” is coming. This makes for interesting conversation around the family dinner table as these talented folks figure out their path towards ongoing growth and quality.
We were just past a week into our trip, so we had plenty of stories to share, while we also expressed our wide-eyed anticipation for what lie ahead.
Bob Pease, President & CEO, Brewers Association
Bob has been in a leadership role at the Brewers Association for decades and has recently taken the helm following founder Charlie Papazian’s transition. He has strengthened the organization’s ability to promote and protect the craft brewing community through remarkable transitions and astounding growth.