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[box type=”info”]Brian has somehow convinced the organizers of the 2014 Craft Brewer’s Conference that he is a legitimate media presence and will be blogging, tweeting, and Instagraming live from Denver.[/box]

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4/9/2014
The first full day of the Conference was a blur of beards and beer people. It kicked off with the keynote presentation that ran through the numbers of what craft beer did in the last year. Growth across many categories had the crowd in good spirits. Craft beer now accounts for 7.8% of all beer sales as the Brewer’s Association announced the goal of  pushing that number to 20% by 2020.

If there was a concern for the industry during the rah rah session it was the issue of beer quality with new breweries being called out especially. As the industry grows at a rapid rate you are going to more beer and more bad beer. Brewer’s Association director, Paul Gatza, summed it by saying “there are a lot of people who have worked their ass off to get craft where it is..so don’t fuck it up”.

At night I was able to hook up with the Dunedin Brewery crew to pay a visit to Back Shirt Brewing. Last year Dunedin carried a mobile brew house on a trailer for 5,000+ miles to the Oregon Brewer’s fest on the way back to Florida they stopped at Black Shirt for a collaboration brew. They backed the mobile brew house up to the brewery and together they brewed a red saison dubbed Blood of the Road. It was a small batch, but luckily they still had a bottle and I was able to try this magnificent beer made on a brewery on wheels.

Keynote speech.

Keynote speech.

Some fellow midwest beer bloggers. Nat and Nick from Nebraska Beer Blog.

Some fellow midwest beer bloggers. Nat and Nick from Nebraska Beer Blog.

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Post conference fun at Black Shirt Brewing (that sticker was already there when we showed up)

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Cool cans in the Craft Brewer’s Expo.

 

Shiny things at Black Shirt Brewing

Shiny things at Black Shirt Brewing

Cool space at Epic Brewing in Denver

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4/9/2014
Day one of the Craft Brewer’s Conference is in the books. The theme of the day seemed to center around reunion. Brewers from all over the country look forward to CBC to catch up with their brewing friends which sometimes only get to see at trade events and big beer fests.

Through the registration lobby you could loud hear greeetings reverberate off the walls as old friends spot each other from across the room. The camaraderie is certainly a unique aspect of the craft beer industry and has helped shape the overall ethos that “we are all in this together.

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4/8/2014
Day one of the Craft Brewers Conference was a whirlwind of travel, check-ins, and well beer. Here are some highlights from the journey.

Early flight to Denver via KCI

Early flight to Denver via KCI

Beer Travel at the Craft Brewers Conference

Attempted canoramic shot of the Centennial Pale Ale brewed just for CBC.

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Opening Reception at Mile High stadium.

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Beer friend Trace from Dunedin Brewery

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4/7/2014
It’s my first Craft Brewer’s Conference and I won’t lie…I have no idea what to expect. I normally view this type of naivete as a strength as it is hard to be disappointed when you have no expectations.

However, in this instance I have no fear of disappointment but of being a fish out of water. For lack of a better term I am a beer blogger but my focus is not so much on the ebbs and flows of the industry as it is on the culture of the industry.

I focus on the great places, great people, and great beer that the community encompasses. My task at hand is to find great beer stories in a sea of craft beer’s elite. I am almost overwhelmed by the possibilities of talking to brewery owners, brewers, distributors, writers, and fellow bloggers. The mere fact that I am already seeing pictures and status updates from Denver makes me a little antsy to get going.

Therefore, I have decided to that the best way to cover this event is to approach it as I usually do with no per-conceived notions and no set agenda of coverage. I focus on travel but that is because you always seem to find good stories when traveling. This trip will focus on stories while I travel and I can pass them on to you as you follow my journey through #CBC14