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08 July 2022

38th EBC Congress: “Let's celebrate beer!”

Plenty to celebrate | There was indeed plenty to celebrate in Madrid! After a three-year break due to the pandemic, the European brewing industry, as well as representatives from other continents, met for the 38th EBC Congress in Madrid, which was held for the 2nd time in combination with the Brewers Forum of the Brewers of Europe (BoE). The EBC celebrated its 75th anniversary and the Spanish Brewers Association its 100th anniversary at the same time. Also taking place was the EU Green Week 2022, for which Brewers Forum and EBC acted as official partners with their numerous sustainability talks.

In the opening ceremony, BoE Vice President Christian Weber from Karlsberg, Germany, expressed his pleasure in finally being able to welcome so many brewers on site again. Almost 1,000 participants had registered for the two events in the Spanish capital from 29 May to 2 June, 2022.

Christian Weber recalled Europe's values and the innovative strength of the brewing industry

In his speech, Mr. Weber addressed the recent and ongoing difficult times in which the European brewing industry finds itself. “Perhaps we'll come out of this stronger,” Mr. Weber said: “It is a good moment to recall Europe's values: peace and freedom, cohesion, and the ability to endure stress and to produce innovations. We can be full of optimism as our craftsmanship and excellent products put us in a great selling position. Let us use the next three days to share our experience and have discussions and – let's celebrate beer!”

EBC – Platform for scientific exchange since 1947

EBC President Benet Fité Luis, Mahou San Miguel, Spain, also confirmed the increased need for technological and scientific research for novel solutions in the current situation. He recalled the beginnings of the EBC in 1947, when there was a shortage of raw materials shortly after World War II and the EBC founder Philippe Kreiss set out to gather brewers from different countries in Europe to join forces and solve problems collectively. “Here we are – 75 years later –, and once again we have an existing commodity problem, in addition to climate change and the explosion of energy costs. The EBC continues to offer an excellent platform for scientific exchange in the brewing industry, as evidenced by the widely themed range of lectures and posters presented here,” said Mr. Fité, looking ahead to the packed programme of the next few days.

112 posters on topics ranging from A for Analysis to Y for Yeast & Fermentation, in addition to 15 lecture tracks on malt, hops, microbiology, analytics, but also on non- and low- alcoholic beers and on speciality beers, not forgetting the ubiquitous topic of sustainability – there was plenty to see and hear.

For a better future

The 38th EBC Congress came to an interesting conclusion in a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Ina Verstl, BRAUWELT International, with former EBC Presidents Esko Pajunen, Finland, Dr. Stefan Lustig, Germany, and Tiago Monteiro Brandão, Portugal, as well as Kamini Dickie, Cleverfish Consulting, Great Britain. The focus was initially on the beginnings of the EBC with the desire for a better future for the brewing industry in the face of the widespread destruction caused by World War II within Europe and the subsequent economy of scarcity (consider also the current agricultural situation and the more than 300 breweries of Ukraine!). After looking to the past, the focus was on future topics for the EBC and the role of science in terms of innovation. Many technological but also societal challenges were mentioned, such as delivery excellence, climate change and sustainability, packaging, consumer expectations in terms of health and beverage diversity. Yeast has been identified as a research topic for the next few years.

Dr. S. Lustig, K. Dickie, E. Pajunen, Dr. I. Verstl and T. Brandão in the concluding panel discussion at the European Brewery Convention 2022 (from left to right)

Dr. Verstl reported from the contributions in the Brewers Forum that self-critical tones could also be heard for the first time: not enough of the existing environmental solutions had been implemented so far. Regardless of the fact that more could always be done, the brewers in the panel referred to their achievements so far (e.g. water consumption), which had perhaps not been communicated strongly enough. The main task of the EBC – and this has remained unchanged since its beginnings – is to be the platform for exchange in scientific and technical aspects of brewing in Europe. Esko Pajunen put it in a nutshell: “We've accomplished so much in the past – by learning from each other. In contrast to the post-war period, we now have the financial means to become even better and learn even more. We should do the same!”

38th EBC Congress
29.5.-2.6.2022, Madrid, Spain