Craft Brewers Conference Prepares for In-Person Events “with More Elbow Room”

While Homebrew Con and GABF stay virtual for 2021, the CBC and its global brewing trade show will start accepting registration on May 4 for limited in-person attendance in Denver.

Joe Stange Apr 15, 2021 - 4 min read

Craft Brewers Conference Prepares for In-Person Events “with More Elbow Room” Primary Image

Evaluating hop varieties at the 2019 CBC. Photo: Courtesy Brewers Association

Registration opens May 4 for the Craft Brewers Conference and Brew Expo America, scheduled for September 9 to 12 in Denver. While the Great American Beer Festival is not set to return as an in-person event until 2022, the Brewers Association is preparing to welcome attendees for a socially distanced CBC conference and trade show “with more elbow room.”

“It’s been far too long,” the BA says in the announcement sent Tuesday. Part of the plan involves welcoming fewer people. “To meet health and safety protocols, this year’s conference will be roughly half the normal size,” the BA says in a brochure promoting this year’s event. “Capacity is limited, so if you want to join your peers for this long-overdue gathering, don’t delay—register today and save your place.”

Other changes include various health and safety measures and a “super flexible cancellation policy.” That policy allows attendees to cancel until August 9 for a full refund or a transfer of registration to next year’s CBC in Minneapolis, scheduled for May 2 to 5. After August 9, attendees can still cancel for a refund or transfer if they experience COVID-19 symptoms and show a doctor’s note or proof of positive COVID-19 test.

Also, if the BA ends up canceling the event—for example, if the pandemic takes another unfortunate turn—all those registered can choose whether they want to receive the refund or transfer their registration to Minneapolis next year.

For BA members, early-bird registration pricing for the full conference—seminars plus trade show—ranges from $299 to $629, depending on brewery size. Those prices increase after August 9.

The BA announced earlier in April that GABF will not return as an in-person beer festival until 2022, although the national beer awards competition will return this year, as will a GABF passport program that features discounts for passport holders at breweries across the country.

Bob Pease, the BA’s president and CEO, tells the Brewing Industry Guide that the CBC expects only 6,000 to 7,000 people this year, compared to a typical attendance of 60,000 at GABF. He adds that the CBC’s “educational conference format is geared toward the craft-beer industry rather than a public-facing festival. With this smaller attendance and conference format, it is much easier to follow social distancing and health guidelines.

“This is all COVID-dependent, but we are cautiously optimistic that we can gather in person in September in Denver.”

Events such as CBC and GABF are a major source of revenue for the Brewers Association, which had to cancel both in 2020 in favor of much leaner online-only events. According to the BA’s annual Stewardship Report, about 58 percent of its $27.8 million in revenue in 2019 came from events. Last year, without in-person events, overall revenue dropped to $9.7 million, as the trade group reduced its staff by 40 percent.

Joe Stange is Managing Editor of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® and the Brewing Industry Guide®. Have story tips or suggestions? Contact him at [email protected].