The Value of Continuing Brewery Education
Learning through collaboration at the Ohio Craft Brewers Conference
Of the many valuable services that the Ohio Craft Brewers Association provides to members, perhaps the one that elevates craft brewing the most is the annual Ohio Craft Brewers Conference. Each year, hundreds of brewery owners and employees come together for two days to learn best practices from industry leaders, share their experiences with their fellow brewers, and network with each other and with the businesses that support the brewing industry.
2020 marks the sixth such gathering organized by the Ohio Craft Brewers Association (OCBA). The educational component at the core of the event continues to grow year by year, now featuring 30 seminars on topics ranging from technical brewing, sales and distribution, business operations, legal compliance and more. The adjoining trade show is also expanding, with more than 100 exhibitors showcasing everything from brewing equipment and ingredients to point-of-sale systems and promotional merchandise.
We asked owners of three Ohio breweries to let us know what they’ve learned from past conferences and what they’re looking forward to at the 2020 event.
Eric Kuebler, The Laird Arcade Brewery: “The annual Brewers Conference is incredibly valuable. The seminars provide a great variety of information from experienced peers and knowledgeable experts on different topics.”
Mike Malinowski, Paradigm Shift Brewing: “This will be my 3rd year attending the OCBA annual conference. In my first year it was mostly about networking and building camaraderie amongst my fellow owners/brewers.”
Joe VanBuskirk, Marion Brewing Company: “We’re a newer brewery, so we’re kind of in a bubble right now and it sometimes feels like we’ve been so wrapped up in getting open that we’ve had our head down too long. I want to get involved in the community of brewers in Ohio now that I can breathe a little.”
EK: “Having joined the OCBA early on in the process as a brewery in planning, it is difficult to say just how much we have implemented from the conferences, but I would venture many of our decisions have had their seeds at least planted by an experience from the OCBA annual conference.”
MM: “Last year I really enjoyed the barrel aging presentations. I asked questions and took pretty good notes and then came back to the brewery and put a plan together moving forward. I also picked up some great pointers on fruiting as well as suppliers, which I have used in my milkshake IPAs.”
EK: “We require all our bartenders to be Certified Cicerone Beer Servers from recommendations of a few seminars, and we launched our live music scene through a casual conversation on a shuttle bus from the hotel to the conference with Dan (Spears) from BMI.”
JV: “It’ll be nice to hear some things that breweries are doing on the cutting edge. We want to see how some other breweries envision the future and how they got to where they are. We’re about to start our expansion already and I’m looking forward to the guys/gals that have been around much longer than we have poking holes in our plan.”
MM: “This year is about maintaining quality as well as growth. I see there are some great seminars on self-distribution and growth as well as yeast management.”
EK: “This year, the top 5 things I am looking forward to at the conference are Creating a Brand Building Merchandise Program, Get Noticed! Media Relations for the Brewing Industry, A Bottom’s Up Approach to Digital Marketing, Finding the Sweet Spot: Growing Your Brewery and Understanding How and Where to Invest Your Profits, and my favorite… ‘Evening Activities.’”
The Ohio Craft Brewers Conference presented by Ohio Beer Counsel takes place Feb. 5-6 at the Dayton Convention Center. To see the full seminar schedule, list of trade show exhibitors, evening activities, and to register, visit ohiocraftbeer.org/conference