Indiana Brewers Gather, Share, Learn + Local Beer Fests tix on sale

There was excitement all around as the Brewers of Indiana Guild web page here (nearly all professional breweries in Indiana) met for the annual business meeting and held their first ever Craft Brewers Conference with over 200 in attendance this past weekend. There are over 100 breweries in Indiana, and more plan to open in the next few months! While the same strategies may not prevail whether in largest breweries in the state (from Three Floyds, to Sun King, to Upland, or Flat 12) down to the nano-brewery, the same overall trends affect all. Craft beer, which is best identified as from smaller breweries (less like beer factories) in small batches with much flavor, variety, and is likely local, is booming of course.

Mega-brands like Bud, Bud Light, and Miller Lite are declining, while still mega with huge volume. The mega-brewers (Belgian owned ABInbev and SABMiller with the SA standing for South African Brewing) meanwhile buy up local brands like Oregon based 10 Barrel Brewing, Seattle’s Elysian (once known for a tag line ‘corporate beer still sucks’) and New York based Blue Point Brewing — all 3 now ABInbev purchases. This has not affected Indiana’s brewers (should we add, “Yet?”). Knowing the major local brewers in this state they are not about to allow their beer to become part of mega.

It was an honor to be a presenter or “Faculty Member” along with such known authors as Jim Palmer (How To Brew; Water: a comprehensive guide) and Stan Hieronymus (Brewing with Wheat; Brew like a Monk), as well as Ron Smith of BeerMBA, and many others. Brewers at the Conference had confirmation from Stan that, IPA is the style that is growing the fastest. In fact, in answer to an oft heard question, ‘what is the next IPA?’, Stan suggests, “IPA is the next IPA.” Data showing sales of packaged goods through supermarkets, drug stores, and other big outlets shows IPA is the biggest single craft beer style and had the most growth in the past year. This trend is boosted by introduction of a number of new IPA products from major breweries (example Rebel IPA from Sam Adams), not just local craft. The IPA style represents nearly 1/4 of all craft beer according to research firm IRI, and grew at about 50% last year.

Indiana’s breweries heard sessions on history, hops, yeast, water, beer quality, safety, and business topics such as hiring, managing a restaurant, trademarks, legal issues, and marketing. Greg Emig, owner of Lafayette Brewing Company as President of the Brewers Guild of Indiana welcomed all to the conference – and also served up a wonderful Belgian stout with Madagascar vanilla and star anise which delivered a bold and spicy flavor after hours.

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of a state-wide brewers conference was having so many people from so many breweries gather and talk business, share experiences, and learn from each other. Big, medium, or small breweries truly did not matter as they came together as ‘family’ in the interest of providing us all with solid, local product to grow solid local firms. Indiana’s own Master Excise Officer was supportive and making every attempt to help wade through old regulations that can have differing interpretations. Many positive comments were heard by attendees about how helpful this event was.

The following board members were up for re-election, and all were voted onto the board again: Roger Baylor (New Albanian Brewing Company), Nick Davidson (Tin Man Brewing Company), Jeff Eaton (Barley Island Brewing Company), Greg Emig (Lafayette Brewing Company), Jon Lang (Triton Brewing Company), DJ McCallister (Black Swan Brewpub), Justin Miller (Black Acre Brewery), Clay Robinson (Sun King Brewing Company), and Blaine Stuckey (Mad Anthony Brewing Company). New to the board are Shane Pearson (Daredevil Brewing Co) and Steve Llewellyn (Function Brewing). President Emeritus Ted Miller (Outliers Brewing, Brugge Brasserie) was also voted onto the board.

Brewers of Indiana Guild sponsors the upcoming 5th Annual Bloomington Craft Beer Festival on April 11, with early bird tickets nearly half gone already. Details and Tickets here.

Upland sponsors the Sour+Wild+Funk Fest on May 16, 2-6 at City Market. Tickets went on sale at noon, today, March 9 Details and Tickets here