Professional brewers and hobbyists gathered in Holloway Commons at the University of New Hampshire on Friday, Nov. 10 for the inaugural New Hampshire Craft Brew Conference, hosted by UNH Professional Development & Training in partnership with the NH Brewers Association.
The turnout for the event beat expectations and allowed people from different areas of expertise to learn alongside professionals during breakout sessions and sampling hours. The morning kicked off with coffee, mingling, and conversation, followed by a presentation by keynote speaker Mitch Steele, focusing on quality control.
“Mitch Steele set the tone in the keynote speech with quality control being the most important thing that craft brewers face. I was very happy to hear this not only because my talk at the conference was all about quality control and starting a lab, but because this is what the brewing program here at UNH focuses on,” said UNH brewery manager, Cheryl Parker.
Quality control is one of the most important things to determine a brewery’s success. Exhibitors at the conference connected with brewers about their products, including Briess Malt & Ingredients, Crosby Hop Farm, River Drive Cooperage & Millwork, MicroMatic, SecondWind Water Systems, ReVision Energy, and BSG CraftBrewing. BSG had representatives make the trip to New Hampshire from Michigan and Rhode Island to be at the conference. BSG provides malt, yeast, hops, and spices to craft breweries across the United States, and it is their priority to offer NH brewers the highest quality products available in order to make the best beer possible. After all, providing a great product is what sets a craft brewery apart.
“There were representatives from not only brewing, but distribution, retail and allied suppliers represented as well,” said Scott Schaier of BREW NH, a non-profit organization that promotes New Hampshire via the beer industry. “I thought the panels and discussions were executed at a very high level and talking with others in the industry, I think the majority were very pleased with the content and schedule,” he added.
“Everything went really well, and we’ve had a lot of positive feedback,” said Juliet Webber with UNH Professional Development & Training. “We hope to continue working with the NH Brewers Association and the UNH Brewing Program to provide educational opportunities to the craft brewing community in New Hampshire and New England.”
“Hoppy Hour” rounded out the day including beer tastings, conversation, and networking followed by a Brewers Banquet. The beer selection was donated by New Hampshire breweries, allowing guests to sample multiple varieties of beer and cider, guided by a suggested food pairing menu. The brewing community is a supportive one; while each brewery is unique and offers a different experience, their common mission is consistent product quality.
Overall, the conference was a huge success and proved to be a great day of networking for all involved in the NH brewing scene. Many were left wondering when the second New Hampshire Craft Brew Conference will take place – look for information in the spring!
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