OR: Portland: The Brewers Association presents The Craft Brewers Conference. What we saw and experienced (and why you should attend next years’)

Like the infamous story of “The Elves and the Shoemaker”, there’s mystery surrounding how a brewer produces so much beer in so little a time.
Some may tell you it’s nothing more than the primary ingredients (known as water, malt, yeast, and hops). Others will reveal ingredients like Chocolate Malt, Cascade Hops, or Young’s Ale Yeast. Still there are others that willingly offer up their recipe to anyone who wishes to reproduce their exceptional beer. But this is only part of the ingredients needed to produce Manny’s Pale Ale or Black Butte Porter.
Ask any brewer where their carboy or plastic bucket is and they will smirk. Ask them where they keep their igloo cooler, to cool their hoppy wort and they might laugh at you. Instead we want to encourage you to think something much larger, made of metal and connected to heat-tolerant hoses.
This is how breweries like Georgetown and Deschutes produce those memorable beers.
But before they can transition their recipes from a simple 5 gallon gallon carboy or recovered 1/2 barrel Anheuser-Busch, they need to purchase their equipment. Enter the Craft Brewers Conference – where brewers and brewery equipment wholesalers meet.

Hosted every year, the Conference is an opportunity for homebrewers and seasoned veterans to meet face-to-face, with manufacturers of all kinds.This year the CBC (abbreviated for Craft Brewers Conference) was hosted in Portland, Oregon.
The Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) is the only industry event that serves both brewpubs and packaging breweries.
For professional brewers, CBC is the number one environment in North America for concentrated, affordable brewing education and idea sharing to improve brewery quality and performance. The conference is also a great social event with 10,000+ brewing industry professionals enjoying craft brews together. BrewExpo America® allows exhibitors and buyers to develop profitable business relationships and helps brewing and brewery restaurant professionals encounter the latest and best products and services that industry vendors have to offer.
Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity to be a part of this year’s conference and trade show for the brewing and brewpub industry!
For those too lazy to read, the Craft Brewers Conference showcases such things as brewery tanks, brewery systems, draught-handles, growlers, apparel, and even software.
Additionally the Craft Brewers Conference provides the host city an opportunity to enjoy beers from out-of-state breweries, some never seen again. With names like Bell’s, Founders, Sun King, or Crooked Stave; alehouses and grocery stores paired Oregon’s best against breweries from the Midwest and abroad.
Not wishing to miss out we requested an opportunity to attend the Craft Brewers Conference and walk the floor of the Oregon Convention Center; to experience the week in the life of a brewery owner, restaurateur, or brewer.
Brewery Provisions

Interested in starting a brewery? Here were some of the brewery-related wholesalers that we saw.
Taphandles, LLC. Taphandleshelps breweries Sell.More.Beer. From our modest roots as a tap handle designand manufacturer, we’ve evolved with the industry into a fully integrated beermarketing company that helps breweries bring visibility to their brands throughinnovative product design. At Taphandles, we see it as our job to help bringbrands to life and connect breweries to their customers. We bring passion forbeer and industry experience to our daily work.
Wyeast Laboratories, Inc.. Pure Liquid Yeast, crafted since 1986. Our collection of pure liquid yeast cultures includes Ale, Lager, Wheat, Belgian, Lambic & seasonal Private Collection strains. Our Microbiologists will assist with strain selection, customized cell counts & yeast management and shipped directly to breweries with purity, viability, and freshness guaranteed.  Follow us on Twitter at @WyeastLab; Friend us on Facebook.
Cicerone Certification Program. The Cicerone Certification Program provides professional certification and education for those who sell and serve beer.
Clearwater Gear. Clearwater Gear is your premier supplier of customized drinkware products in the Northwest. With over 30 years of printing experience and manufacturing, we have helped many breweries execute broad based branding with many of our products exclusive for the Craft Beer Industry. With the industry's shortest production time, we offer Growlers, Mini Kegs, Glassware and other promotional items. Stop by and meet the crew as we look forward to earning your business and building long lasting relationships that will benefit both of our companies.  Cheers!  Clearwater Gear Crew
Coaster Factory.
HVG Hopfenverwertungsgenossenschaft EG. The HVG is a transparent, dependable and reliable partner of the German hop-growers. Besides processing German hops into HVG hop pellets, HVG hop extract and other hop products as well as marketing the German hop production the HVG also fulfils important tasks as a producer group. As we are owned by the German hop growers, this is the shortest way to transfer their unique story to your beer!
River Drive Lumber. Consider us the retirement home for used barrels, the half-way home for those tossed to the curb. We believe each and every one deserves a second, third, or fourth chance. We can see the true beauty and potential in what appear to be ordinary wooden barrels.From bottle openers to hardwood floors, we turn ordinary into extraordinary!
Schmalz Inc. Schmalz is a worldwide leading provider of automation, handling and clamping systems, supplying customers in various industries with innovative, efficient solutions based on vacuum technology. Schmalz customers can either choose from a diverse line of components or they can benefit from a complete solution that is custom-tailored to their requirements. Schmalz has a wide variety of lifting products to meet material handling needs in a brewery environment. With a single lifter you can lift bags, bottles, boxes, cases and kegs.  Schmalz Vacuum Lifter will give you One hand control  power loss safety feature   Variety of vacuum heads  Lift all keg from top or side  Quick change attachment  180 and 360 degree rotation options  Portable base  170lbs kegs are easily lifted  Low energy costs  Speedier handling process  Low cost solutions  Eliminates heavy weight lifting  Reduces back injuries Reduces worker compensation claims.

Ekos Brewmaster. Managing the business side of your brewery may not be the most enjoyable part of your job, but it’s certainly a necessity. Ekos Brewmaster makes it easy to organize, manage, and integrate information from every area of your brewery into one easily accessible location. Ekos Brewmaster integrates seamlessly with Quickbooks, giving you the ability to monitor everything from sales and inventory to raw ingredients and equipment history with a few clicks of a mouse or swipes of your mobile device.
This is only a handful of the wholesalers that were offering up their services to pubs, breweries, and future brewery owners. For a comprehensive list, visit the Brewers Association sponsored website for the Craft Brewers Conference.
Seminars
Besides providing an opportunity to engage with manufacturers of kegs, draft handles, coasters, or bottles; we had a chance to attend some of the sponsored seminars. Of the seminars we attended, we thought the following were most helpful.
Going Pro: Making The Transition From Homebrewing To Professional Brewing, hosted by Steve Parkes. Steve Parkes has brewed for over 30 years in the UK and on both coasts of the U.S. He started the first microbrewery (as they were called back then) in Maryland in 1988, and was head brewer at Humboldt Brewery in Arcata as they grew to be the second largest Northern California brewery in 1997. As head brewer with Wolavers Fine Organic Ales, he developed the nation's biggest-selling line of organic beers in the mid-2000s. He and his wife purchased the American Brewers Guild brewing school from its founders in 1999, and have continued to educate and train a large percentage of the nation's craft brewers. Steve was awarded the Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Craft Brewing by the Brewers Association in 2009.
While in attendance Steve reminded would-be brewers to avoid bottle conditioning, recognize infections (and address them swiftly), and above all “Don’t F**k it up!”. Overall this was a fun course to sit through; but admittedly we felt the material covered was/should have been common knowledge.
Legal Guide To The Basics For The Start-up Brewery hosted by craft beer attorney Candace L. Moon. Candace L. Moon is a San Diego-based attorney who has spent the last six years dedicating her law practice to the craft beer industry. She has worked with over 100 craft breweries and craft breweries in planning nationwide, handling many different legal areas including business entity formation, alcoholic beverage law, contract review and trademark law. Her clients include Green Flash, Drake’s and Heretic Brewing. Ms. Moon’s undergraduate degree is from the University of Virginia and she attended the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Calif. She has been a member of the California State Bar since 2008 and the BA since 2009.
In the interest of avoiding confusion, Candace provide many examples of breweries which participated as plaintiffs or defendants in cases. Additionally she (along with a hospitality mediator) reminded brewers to research their trademarks prior to application and above all be creative.
What she didn’t provided was legal advice that any brewer could reference. If you wanted legal advice, you would need to hire her services or find an attorney who could assist in your trademark application or dispute.
Portland rolls out the red carpet for it’s guests.
Starting on Tuesday, Portland (and the surrounding area) provided opportunities for those wishing to escape the Oregon Convention Center. This included an opportunity to see breweries being manufactured, sunset on a hop farm, or drinking beers from Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America tour.
Tuesday - Marks Design & Metalworks.
On Tuesday we were given a tour of Marks’ 28,000 square foot warehouse, where brewery tanks and systems were in various stages of assembly. During our tour we had a chance to check out a brewery system, heading to Bellingham’s Kulshan Brewing; 2 fermentation vessels for San Diego’s Ballast Point, as well as guided along the assembled process.
Tuesday - Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America.
Hosted by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, the Wonder Ballroom was host to over 30 different beers from both local and nationally recognized brewers. As one of the few invitation-only events, the place packed the dance floor with an average attendance of around 500+.
Wednesday - Crosby Hop Farm.
Located near Woodburn’s Factory Outlet mall, the Crosby Hop Farm provides brewers with over 75 different varieties of hops. As fifth-generation farmers, the men and women of Crosby Hop Farm provided many Craft Brewers Conference. During the event we enjoyed beers with Bison Brewing, as well as partook of many beers from breweries like Russian River, Boneyard, and The Bruery. To make the trip memorable, we each took home a rhizome to plant in our garden.
Thursday – Deschutes Brewing & Columbia Distributing Present Beer Machines: A Steampunk Ode to the Craft Revolution
Situated in the North end of Portland, at Pure Space, “Beer Machines” was a riot for all who attended. Whether you dressed for the part or not, it was easy to get lost in the metal. From artwork, draft stations, entertainment, and of course Deschutes beer; the brewery from Bend (with help from Columbia Distributing) threw an awesome party.
Final Thoughts
Whether you’re transitioning from a 5 gallon carboy to a 3 barrel brewhouse or simply looking for a way for your beer to stand out, the Craft Brewers Conference is a must attend event in any city. But take heart (of those who would rather drink than brew) in knowing that wherever the Craft Brewers Conference is, there will always be a bounty of brewers and beers.
More photos are on our Flickr page here.
In the interest of full disclosure, the Brewers Association provided us an opportunity to attend the CBC as their media guest.
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