Beer Run

Beer Run: Excitement brewing for Craft Beer Summit

Among the beer leaders attending the Sept. 11-12 event is Greg Koch of Stone Brewing, center.
Among the beer leaders attending the Sept. 11-12 event is Greg Koch of Stone Brewing, center. Associated Press file

It’s time to start paying attention to the California Craft Beer Summit and Brewers Showcase. It has been billed as a first-of-its-kind beer event – and it’s happening right here in Sacramento on Sept. 11 and 12.

Dreamed up by Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Brewers Association, the summit takes a much different approach to the typical craft beer gatherings, which tend to be about competitions, ceremonies and lots and lots of beer. Those are all great in their own way.

The summit, by contrast, has a strong educational component and offers something for industry insiders, connoisseurs and craft beer novices; as the website states, “Not just tasting beer. It’s touching, smelling and feeling how beer is made.”

There will be breakout sessions of all kinds, including seminars on how to start a brewery, cook with beer and pair food with beer. Confused by the laws and regulations for beer? An attorney specializing in craft brewing will be on hand. Want to work in the industry? The summit will feature a small job fair. As for the beer itself, there will be interactive displays showing how it’s made, “from the farm to the tap.”

The summit will feature all of the big names in the California brewing industry, including Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada), Greg Koch (Stone Brewing), Vinnie and Natalie Cilurzo (Russian River Brewing), David Walker (Firestone Walker) and Charles Bamforth, the eminent professor of brewing at UC Davis. Sacramento will be well-represented with David Gull (New Helvetia), Glynn Phillips (Rubicon) and Ryan Graham (Track 7) on a panel discussing the local beer scene.

Tickets are available in a variety of options. The fullest experience is the VIP option for $289, which includes access to every educational session, two-day access to the Expo Hall, entry to the Brewers Showcase Festival that Saturday and entry to the invitation-only Brewers Reception. If you want to absolutely soak up the California craft beer experience, this is your chance. Instagramming and tweeting selfies with Grossman and Fritz Maytag are also a distinct possibility with the VIP pass.

General admission tickets range from $69 to $99 per day.

The event is “very hands-on and experiential,” McCormick said in an interview. “There is a lot of visual to this. I highly recommend that people bring their significant others. They will be walking into the Sacramento Convention Center and seeing and touching and smelling craft beer.”

It promises to be something very special – and certainly a lineup of brewing powerhouses and promising startups the likes of which Sacramento has never seen before.

The Sept. 12 festival is limited to California craft breweries, which is unusual in itself. But even better, the California Craft Brewers Association is offering to ship the beer into town in refrigerated trucks. That means the fledgling breweries without high-roller budgets can show off their beer before a captive audience.

I cannot imagine a more exciting tasting opportunity. Here is your chance to experience the greatest breweries in California – a virtual epic beer road trip from the North Coast to the San Diego – all lined up and pouring on the Capitol Mall.

We’re talking The Bruery, The Rare Barrel, Societe, Sante Adairius. There will be the big guns, too – Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas, Russian River, Ballast Point, Green Flash. Everyone on the local landscape will be there, including Knee Deep, Black Vinyl, Sudwerk, Mraz, Device and Berryessa.

And it won’t just be the regular beer inventory you may have seen before. Expect plenty of limited releases and event-only beers, both at the summit and the festival.

While tickets are selling briskly, according to McCormick, it’s far too early to predict how this event will evolve. How will attendees respond to the educational options? What tweaking will be needed in the years to come?

“It has been very positive from the Sacramento region,” McCormick said of early ticket sales. “I think this first year will be more of a regional draw, but we do hope to expand it to a broader audience geographically.”

If his dream becomes reality, Sacramento will someday become synonymous with craft beer on a national level. McCormick is banking on a timetable of three to five years. “The vision is to have this as a premier craft beer event that people from all over the country come to,” he said.

Blair Anthony Robertson: (916) 321-1099, @Blarob

California Craft Beer Summit and Brewers Showcase

When: Sept. 11 and 12

Where: Capitol Mall and Sacramento Convention Center

Tickets: $49 to to $99 per day, VIP option for $289

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