Craft Brewers Conference set to pour in Philadelphia May 3-6

Bars and breweries in Philadelphia will be abuzz in early May when an estimated 13,000 beer brewing industry professionals descend upon the city.

Brewers Association CEO Bob Pease, second from right, is joined on stage by industry veterans (from left) Mark Edelson, Nick Matt, John Pinkerton, and Sam Calagione. Photo © Jason E. Kaplan.

PHILADELPHIA, April 22, 2016 — Attendees of the Craft Brewers Conference will be taking in four days of seminars, demonstrations, vendor displays and tours. The week will be capped off by the biennial World Beer Cup, one of the most eagerly anticipated industry judging events for brewing to style.

A brewer checks out a new stainless tank at the BrewExpo America trade show at the annual Craft Brewers Conference. Photo © Jason E. Kaplan
A brewer checks out a new stainless tank at the BrewExpo America trade show at the annual Craft Brewers Conference. Photo © Jason E. Kaplan

But while the conference is closed to the public, most of what happens when the day’s learning is over will be available for all to enjoy. Many of the city’s and area’s finest bars and breweries will be putting their best brews forward by showcasing a combination of what’s available locally as well as out-of-state beers licensed specially for distribution during conference week.

In the absence of a centralized location for all CBC-related events, I am maintaining a full list over at Below are some highlights and notes to help you plan where to drink the best beers and rub elbows with the industry’s finest during Craft Brewers Conference and World Beer Cup 2016.

One extra tip: Stay alert to social media during and after the World Beer Cup award ceremony on May 6 for impromptu parties that are bound to break out among the winning breweries.

Nearly 13,000 industry professionals are expected to attend the annual Craft Brewers Conference. Philadelphia is hosting the 2016 conference from May 2-6. Photo © Jason E. Kaplan
Nearly 13,000 industry professionals are expected to attend the annual Craft Brewers Conference. Philadelphia is hosting the 2016 conference May 2-6. Photo © Jason E. Kaplan

Local Reppin’
Currently, no bar with scheduled events is doing more to represent the local brewing scene than one family of five high quality beer bars. Owned by husband and wife Brendan Hartranft and Leigh Maida and others, Memphis Taproom is hosting events pairing local breweries with out-of-region breweries: Local 44 is proving their name to an event featuring white hot Tired Hands; Strangelove’s is hosting events that include Free Will, Neshaminy Creek, and Victory; and the newest bar in the family — Coeur — is featuring 2SP Brewing Company.

Need Some Food with That Beer?
City Tap House is pulling out all the stops at its University City location, offering a $100 per person dinner entitled Charlie Bravo Charlie (CBC, get it?) and featuring seven brewers, their beers and a seven-course meal. Over at City Tap House’s Logan Circle location, the staff is working with Bell’s Brewery to replicate the Eccentric Cafe Experience complete with food and beer to match the menus at the brewery’s home location in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

What About Lunch?
Take Thursday afternoon off from work. You’ll need it after attending a Firestone Walker-themed lunch at Kite & Key.

For Amber Waves of Grain
Is this a patriotic event? Or an event that celebrates the great beer of the United States? Sounds like both. Head to the National Museum of American Jewish History for a night presented by Victory Brewing Company with 26 American breweries showcasing their amber-colored beers. The event benefits the City of Philadelphia’s much-lauded Mural Arts Program.

Sour Beer Is All the Rage
If you can’t get enough of the wide range of flavors and aromas from sour beer, you’re not alone. And you certainly won’t be alone if you head into South Philly for the Sour Beer Invitational at Devil’s Den.

Music for Your Beer
Surly, Champion and BSG all bring a strong brewing game to the industry. Mastodon will likewise bring it strong when they take to the concert stage in conjunction with the three breweries at Electric Factory.

Run for Your Beer
The ambitiously named International Beer Run is pairing running clubs and running brewers from around the country (Denmark and Toronto, too!) with an evening run that concludes at Philadelphia Brewing Company.

Learn About Your Beer
Monk’s is oft-cited as the reason why the Belgian beer scene in the U.S. is what it is today. Coincidentally, the founding partner of New Belgium Brewing Company, Kim Jordan, will be at Monk’s Cafe teaching a class on the blending of sour, barrel-aged beers. Her beers, plus small plates of food, will be served during the event.

Burlesque & Beer
Sounds like something different and something that you need to check out in person at U-Bahn’s event pairing Deschutes beer with Vixens, Vintages & Variety.

World Beer Cup Award-Winning Powerhouse
Iron Hill has collected dozens of awards from the World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival. The Industry Bar is awarding the brewpub chain and 25 of its beers an event during CBC and The Industry’s sister bar — Good Dog Bar — back in Center City is hosting two other local powerhouses, Victory Brewing Company and Sly Fox Brewing Company at two separate events.

Speaking of Awards
With its Friday night event, Varga Bar has anointed itself the home of The Officially Unofficial Award Show After Party Award Show. What exactly this is might still be a bit unclear, but Varga is known for its legendary parties paired with, naturally, great beer.

Saturday Recap
When it comes time to close out the week, McCrossen’s Tavern is throwing a creatively named brunch called Honey Bunches of Hall and Oats complete with a list of beers from Smuttynose and a Cereal Bar. Afterward, walk off the extra calories accumulated during the week through lovely Fairmount neighborhood and the nearby Philadelphia Museum of Art.

About the writer: Bryan Kolesar has been on the trail of great beer for over 20 years and writing about it for more than 10. In 2015, his Beer Lovers Mid-Atlantic book was released and in a mere 416 pages covered the diverse beer scene of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Find his book online and in bookstores and follow him on Twitter @BrewLounge.

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