Okay, the dust has settled, everyone has returned home and caught their breath after a productive Craft Brewers Conference in May. Allow me to reflect and perhaps pontificate a bit on what I saw and heard.
At a 30,000 foot level, the 2022 CBC in Minneapolis was as close as possible to a “normal” CBC as I’ve seen in the past three years. Yes, we participated last September in Denver, but the attendance was slightly less than 50% of a recent norm, and the shadow of the pandemic (facemasks were still required to enter, although by the time things got going, most officials looked the other way).
This event in Minneapolis employed the major airport I.D. system of CLEAR to enter your vaccination status, and that was quick, incredibly easy and if you were not vaxxed, you simply presented a negative test and in you went. The BA adhered to CDC best practices as COVID is/was still lurking.
It was evident by the time we walked into the German Hop hospitality suite on Monday afternoon that things were getting near normal. The buzz was palpable. This felt good, promising.
In our recent history at Glacier Hops Ranch, we first exhibited at the CBC in Philadelphia back in 2016. The reaction was “who are you guys?” “Nobody grows hops in Montana” “What is this hop oil?” Pretty much a bunch of blank, curious stares.
Fast forward to spring of 2022. The second time we have been a Platinum Sponsor of the CBC. And the reactions were notably different. “Yeah, I’ve heard of you.” “Now tell me how do I use this stuff?”
The overwhelming concern, we heard over and over, was dealing with increased costs that were continuing to pile up. Aluminum (please repeal the tarriffs, please), energy/fuel, labor, shipping. What solutions are available to cut costs without sacrificing quality? It seemed that there was an emergence of these economic realities sinking in.
The messaging we had for how much more revenue a Craft brewery could make on every batch, particularly with popular hop-forward beers, resonated more than ever before. It was like rare relief to Craft brewers who are being hammered with increased costs from all sides.
This was our second effort hosting a Beer Hospitality Lounge, allowing us the opportunity to showcase (and allow brewers to rank) our Hopzoil-infused beers. One of the efforts was a blind tasting between a Dirty Blonde Ale dry-hopped at an equivalent rate of one pound of Cascade pellets per BBL, and the identical base beer dosed with our recommended equivalent of water-soluble MAJIK Hopzoil. This was by far the most popular beer(s) that we showcased and we actually ran out of those beers before the final day.
The statistical reaction of this blind tasting? Brewers overwhelmingly preferred the taste of Hopzoil to pellets. Talk about validating our efforts! Yes, we’re already contemplating something for Nashville to expand on these findings.
The Brewers Association has been incredibly supportive of our efforts, and we in turn are quite loyal to the BA. The BA membership has been and continues to be innovative, responsive and most recently, survivors.
It’s nice to get a glimpse of “normal” again.