Craft Brewers Conference 2024
CBC 2024 | Presented annually by the Brewers Association, the Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America (CBC) is North America’s largest gathering for the beverage alcohol industry. 2024’s edition will take place 21–24 April at the Venetian Convention & Expo Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
At this year’s Craft Brewers Conference, more than 11 000 brewing, fermenting, and distilling professionals will have the opportunity to meet with more than 650 exhibitors and hear from a wide range of speakers during seminars across eight different educational tracks.
On the mainstage
Fawn Weaver, business entrepreneur, and founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, will kick off the conference as the keynote speaker at the Day One General Session on 22 April.
Ms. Weaver has been a dynamic force in the entrepreneurial business world for over 25 years, smashing barriers and setting new standards wherever she goes – including in the distilling industry. Brewers are increasingly looking to find growth in new ways to meet changing consumer preferences and demographics. Ms. Weaver’s presentation will offer timely, thought-provoking, and inspiring insights from a different, small-producer lens.
A New York Times bestselling author and groundbreaking business mogul, Fawn Weaver is an expert in crafting compelling stories as a writer, powerhouse investor, and values-driven leader. Weaver leverages her 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, from founding and serving as CEO of Grant Sidney, Inc., a privately held investment company, to launching the fastest-growing whiskey brand in U.S. history, Uncle Nearest, Inc. The brand boasts significant accolades as the most awarded American whiskey, including bourbon, of 2019, 2020, and 2021, sweeping 16 of the top 18 award competitions in the world. Weaver also built the USD 50M Uncle Nearest Venture Fund, investing in minority-founded, owned, and led brands with the greatest potential to grow into legacy brands. A multi-hyphenate and popular TED speaker and guest on NPR’s “How I Built This,” Weaver is a highly sought-after voice in conversations about accelerating growth without sacrificing values, inclusive organizational strategy, and leadership, making an impact with audiences of all kinds.
Weaver’s keynote address, “The Story of Uncle Nearest and What Craft Distillers and Brewers Have in Common,” will shine a light on her journey to becoming the first non-celebrity Black American woman to build an independent company valued at over USD 1 billion from the ground up, in just four years.
On day 2, the General Session will kick off with the presentation of the 2024 Industry Award winners.
Each year since 1987, the Brewers Association has recognized individuals who inspire, defend, and innovate within the craft brewing industry.
Immediately following the award ceremony, Brewers Association’s chief economist, Bart Watson, will take the stage to provide the annual State of the Industry update. Watson will break down the stats and trends from 2024. Using the annual Beer Industry Production Survey and a multitude of other data sources, Bart will dig deep into business models, and also take a step back in scope, providing the context industry professionals will need to steer their business in the coming years.
Seminars and speakers
In addition to the two main stage presentations at the nation’s largest gathering for beverage alcohol producers, experts will present more than 60 educational seminars and 160 speakers spanning eight areas critical to running a successful business: Business & Leadership, Export Development, Government Affairs & Legal, Production & Operations, Quality & Ingredients, Sales & Marketing; Taprooms & Brewpubs, and THRIVE. No matter the business size, CBC’s seminars will equip attendees and respective staff with the tools to thrive in today’s highly competitive marketplace.
Speakers and seminars of note include:
- “What’s Influencing How We Drink Today and in the Future”: It’s no secret that we drink differently than we did a few years ago. On top of pandemic-related behavioral changes, we’ve seen a rise in new categories, a difference in how much we consume (and where we consume it), and an unprecedented pace of cross-category beverage innovation. Industry trend spotter and market advisor Brandy Rand will look at the influence of larger consumer trends shaping how we drink and help you better understand and plan for the consumer of the future.
- “Balancing Acts: Ways to Weigh Alcohol Research, Policy and Perceptions”: Beer Marketer Insights’ Senior Editor Christopher Shepard will provide a fast-paced review of the balancing act between the often-weighty topics of alcohol science and policy with the lighter and brighter feelings many have for drinking, and help attendees engage in these thorny discussions with clarity, perspective, and care.
- “Innovation: What Does It Mean and How Can It Help Your Business”: Panelists Natalie Rose Baldwin (Wayfinder Beer), Tonya Cornett (10 Barrel Brewing Co.), Kelly McKnight (New Belgium Brewing) and Megan Parisi (Boston Beer Company) will apply their more than 70 years of combined professional brewing experience at breweries ranging in size from 700 barrels per year to more than two million barrels per year annual production to discuss what innovation means to them, how they approach the process, how it helps them as brewers, and how it affects their brewery’s bottom line.
- “Driving Growth in Craft Cider”: In just 11 years, Schilling Cider has become the nation’s largest producer of fresh-pressed hard cider and is now in the nation’s top 35 craft companies. CEO and co-founder Colin Schilling will reveal what fueled this growth in a category many thought was dead and discuss the innovation that shifted the growth curve and how customer feedback and calculated risks drove that innovation. He will also take a deep dive into how building a people-first company culture allowed Schilling Cider to scale beyond founder involvement at every level and how focusing on sustainability allows the company to follow its values and connect with newer legal drinking-age consumers. Finally, Colin will share his vision for continuing the spirit of collaboration in the craft beverage community to allow the segment to grow again in the face of industry consolidation and demographic shifts.
- “An Introduction to Distilling for Brewers”: Many craft breweries have added distillation systems to their existing plants. For those interested in pursuing this related industry, Brewmaster & Head Distiller at Two Roads Brewing Co., Phil Markowski will help attendees familiarize craft beer brewers with the basics of the distillation of alcohol from fermented substrates, including beer.
- “Bridging Divides: Forging Strong Connections in a Seemingly Polarized World”: Tranice Watts of Lifting Lucy will guide seminar attendees through the essential art of connecting with diverse audiences. The seminar will explore strategies for cultivating inclusivity, the significance of intersectionality, and real-world examples of building unity instead of division. It will also equip listeners with practical insights for leveraging platforms, ensuring lasting connections, and accessing valuable resources through the Brewers Association.
- “Pre-Conference Education”: For those looking to spend an extra day ahead of CBC to take a deep dive into financial or human resources subjects, the day-long Brewery Strategic Financial Planning and Leadership Bootcamp and the THRIVE Workshops will be offered on 21 April and available as an add-on to full conference registration for an additional fee.
- “Brewery Strategic Financial Planning and Leadership Bootcamp”: This workshop aims to equip brewery owners, managers, and operational staff with the financial tools to accelerate their business. Core topics related to brewery operations’ business and financial aspects will be covered through guided speaker sessions and breakout discussions. Each attendee will have the chance to use their own brewery information and metrics as we work through topics related to revenue and sales forecasting, cost of goods, operating expenses, and profitability. Each attendee will learn how to create their own high-level budget and Key Performance Indicator (KPI) dashboard. By the end of this workshop, attendees will be able to take the financial management tools they created back to their breweries to improve their businesses’ financial health and success. This boot camp is ideal for a brewery owner or manager responsible for operating their business and its financials without the help of a chief financial officer.
- “THRIVE Workshop”: Featuring guest speakers, educational seminars, hands-on workshops, networking sessions, and opportunities to earn Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) continuing education credits, the THRIVE workshop offers a range of people-focused tools to elevate small businesses. The THRIVE Workshop at the 2024 Craft Brewers Conference is appropriate for owners, people leaders, human resources (HR), and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practitioners and will provide an integrated dive into DEI, HR, and wellness topics for craft brewers of all sizes.
BrewExpo America and World Beer Cup
With more than 650 exhibitors displaying the latest and greatest product innovations, supplies, and services for the beverage alcohol industry, BrewExpo America is a good place for customers, vendors, and industry leaders to connect.
The Craft Brewers Conference culminates with the awards ceremony for the World Beer Cup, one of the world’s largest and most prestigious beer competitions. Often referred to as “the Olympics of Beer,” the competition was created in 1996 to celebrate the art and science of brewing. This global competition continues to create greater consumer awareness about different beer styles and flavor profiles while promoting international brewing excellence.
The 2024 champions from among more than 10 000 entries from more than 53 countries will be announced in an awards ceremony in Las Vegas on April 24.
Registration for the event is available online at www.craftbrewersconference.com. Hotel reservations are available through CBC’s exclusive booking partner, Conference Direct. See you in Las Vegas!