15 April 2021

Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America 2021

Rescheduled | The 38th edition of the Craft Brewers Conference® & Brew Expo America® (CBC) presented by the Brewers Association will return to Denver September 9-12, 2021. The premier conference and trade show for the craft brewing industry was originally scheduled to take place in San Diego from 29 March to 1 April 2021,, but has been rescheduled due to the ongoing pandemic. Ann Obenchain, Marketing Director, Brewers Association, Boulder, CO, USA, talks about the event and already shares some information on the programme.

After a tumultuous year for the craft brewing community, it has become clear that maintaining craft beer’s health and vitality for the future starts with the Craft Brewers Conference and the cultivation and education of the professionals in this field. Shifting to September in Denver provides an opportunity to convene in person, making it possible to do what brewers do best – build community through sharing their expertise and passion, and learn from each other.

The conference provides the latest in technical brewing resources, education, and business development opportunities for professionals who work across the spectrum of craft beer. BrewExpo America, the largest trade show of its kind in North America, is the ultimate “one-stop shop” for brewers looking to invest in their businesses and make important connections with vendors.


There will be exciting presentations again this year (All pictures: © Brewers Association, CBC 2019)

“Flamin’ hot” keynote

The 2021 conference keynote promises to be “flamin’ hot”: Richard Montañez leads Multicultural Sales & Marketing across Pepsi North American divisions. Throughout his career Montañez has held various senior roles through Pepsi and Frito Lay divisions. Montañez started his career at Frito-Lay in 1976 as a janitor and is recognized as the creator of the Flamin’ Hot line of products, which have become a billion-dollar business and a cultural phenomenon. Recognized for his visionary leadership, ability to innovate and his commitment to diversity, he has received several notable awards and is often named one of the most influential Latinos in corporate America.

Seminars across eight educational tracks

Seminars across eight educational tracks have been developed to help brewers remain relevant and stay competitive in the ever-changing business climate.

Every distinct beer style has a unique history and characteristics and is brewed using specific techniques. Similarly, every brewery – from the smallest local brewpub to the largest regional or national packaging brand – has its own set of brewing processes and engineering challenges. Brewing experts in “Brewing Operations & Beer Styles” will highlight current beer styles and the techniques used to brew them, as well as ways to maximize quality and efficiency in your brewery operations, no matter the size.

Running a brewery is about more than just making good beer. Things like finance and accounting, hiring and staff motivation, and change management are all just as important to keep your business healthy. “Business & Leadership” is intended for owners, managers, and leaders in the craft brewing industry. These sessions are designed to open your mind, provide inspiration, and provide tips to become a more effective leader.

The 2019 show was well attended

Every brewery needs to be committed to fostering an inclusive and diverse craft brewing community for both brewers and beer lovers. “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” will dive deep into the meaning of diversity, equity, and inclusion and explore ways to make a brewery more welcoming to all.

Brewery hospitality is about making meaningful connections with the visitors in the taproom or brewpub to keep them coming back for more. “Events & Hospitality” will include seminars on enhancing customer experience, building programs for successful events and entertainment, and maintaining customer engagement during difficult times.

Attendees to “Government Affairs & Export” make sure they’re aware of the risks and opportunities in today’s national and global environment. It’s essential for every small business to stay up to date on the rules and regulations affecting their operations. Topics will cover everything from taxes and tariffs, to changes in state and federal laws, to the things brewers need to know to export their beer abroad.

Quality management is critical for continued success in the brewing industry. Seminars in “Quality & Ingredients” will help brewers build their own sensory and quality programs, as well as source, analyze, and properly use the highest quality ingredients to brew the best beer possible.

In order to ensure the long-term success of the craft beer industry, it is vital that every brewery is committed to safety and sustainability. Nothing is more important than maintaining a safe and healthy environment for the employees and customers. “Safety & Sustainability” is all about providing brewers with the resources they need to build a culture in their brewery that fosters environmental stewardship and protects their staff and equipment from harm.

It doesn’t matter how good your beer is if no one is buying it: The seminars in the “Sales & Marketing” track will provide breweries with best practices for selling beer on- and off-premise, working with retailers and distributors, and designing successful marketing strategies to grow their brand.

Detailed information on the seminar and speaker lineup can be found at CraftBrewersConference.com.

The CBC appeals to all the senses

Health and safety

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Brewers Association is making necessary adjustments and prioritizing participant well-being as their top priority. The situation remains fluid though, and subject to change, as circumstances such as governmental recommendations, case load, vaccination rate, and other factors dictate. At present, together, with the Colorado Convention Center, hotels, and based on current mandates from the State of Colorado, the BA plans for the following:

  • Proper mask wearing required at all conference events;
  • physical distancing;
  • extra meeting room space to spread out;
  • advance sign up for seminars to limit seminar room capacity;
  • elbow bumps! No handshakes or hugs, please;
  • hand sanitizing stations;
  • one way traffic flow in high traffic areas;
  • beer service areas for tasting without mask requirements;
  • maximize fresh air circulation: the venue will increase the outside air intake/air change rates during occupied show hours.

All hotels within the conference room block have been following procedures and protocols developed in consideration of guidance and information shared by the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other leading organizations and experts, local government requirements, and guidance. We encourage attendees to check their websites for updates.

COVID testing is becoming more widespread, including with airlines and for travel. Vaccines are expected to become more widely available by Q2 2021. We highly recommend everyone have either a negative COVID test or vaccination before attending the conference.
Airlines are taking major steps to keep passengers safe, including not selling tickets on middle seats, extra cleanings, requiring facemasks, using electrostatic cleaning, and passenger screenings. Be sure to learn your airline requirements if you are flying into Denver.

Lively discussions at the CBC 2019

Registration information

Final confirmation of the in-person event remains dependent on health and safety protocols at the time of the conference. Registration for attendees and media opens May 4 at CraftBrewersConference.com. If an in-person event is not possible due to COVID-19 related concerns, the conference will move online.

In addition to the rescheduling of the Craft Brewers Conference, the Great American Beer Festival® (GABF) competition and awards ceremony, historically held in Denver, will also shift, with the awards announced during CBC on September 10. Competition, brewery and beer registration is open Tuesday, June 8 through Tuesday, June 22, with competition beers due to Denver July 26-30. Judging will take place from August 16- September 2. The Fresh Hops category will be judged and announced in mid-October to accommodate the fall harvest. A complete GABF competition timeline and participation information is available at GreatAmericanBeerFestival.com.

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