Meanwhile, beer intended for the corresponding World Beer Cup will be distilled into sanitizer.

By Mike Pomranz
April 08, 2020
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Courtesy of Brewers Association

The coronavirus pandemic has canceled events around the globe, and for craft brewers, that includes two of the biggest gatherings of the year: the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) and its accompanying World Beer Cup competition. Originally slated to run the fourth week of April in San Antonio, neither event will be happening in its usual form—but, instead, both are resulting in some amazing freebies for beer lovers and first responders.

Today, the Brewers Association—the craft beer trade group that runs CBC—announced it will be moving the event online as a month-long “virtual craft brewers conference.” And as an added bonus for beer lovers, the retooled conference will be entirely free—open to anyone with “no paywall or registration fee.” Attending the full conference typically cost hundreds of dollars or more.

“Next Monday, April 13 we’re launching CBC Online, a five-week virtual version of CBC including 40 of our educational seminars across all 14 CBC tracks,” MacKenzie Staples, the BA’s Educational Content Manager, wrote on the group's website. “From April 13 through May 15, we’re hosting two live seminars every weekday, with one morning session and one afternoon session, plus a few extras from our awesome sponsors. All seminars will be hosted in Crowdcast, our new interactive webinar platform that allows attendees to chat with each other, ask speakers questions, and even upvote the questions you want to hear the answer to.”

You can find the entire event schedule on the CBC website. Talks cover all sorts of topics including legal changes in the wake of COVID-19, ways to engage your local homebrew community, basic brewing enzymology, and even “Hard Seltzer 101.” And if you can’t make the session you want, don’t worry: “All seminars will be recorded and available to replay instantly after the live broadcast,” Staples continues. “The recordings will be hosted on Crowdcast for free to everyone through May 31.”

“We’ll get through this crazy time, and we’ll do it by investing in ourselves, our businesses, and each other,” Staples concludes.

Meanwhile, a beer competition like the World Beer Cup may be virtually impossible to replicate online, but a second announcement assured people the entries submitted from about 2,700 domestic breweries won’t go to waste. The BA partnered with two local Denver distillers—Denver Distillery and Ballmer Peak Distillery—that are making hand sanitizer for first responders. “On Monday, a handful of Brewers Association staff and volunteers, led by BA executive chef Adam Dulye, began emptying thousands of cans and bottles of competition beer into 275 gallon totes and delivered the first batch of 1,500 gallons to the distilleries,” the BA explained. These beverages will then be distilled down to alcohol for sanitizer, with the BA adding, “We estimate that the first batch of 175 gallons will be made and donated next week.”

“Thank you to all the breweries whose entries are making a small but significant contribution to providing much needed hand sanitizer for the women and men on the front lines of this pandemic,” the BA concluded. Or to put it another way: Sounds like all of the entries are winners this year.