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1st Annual GCBG Symposium in Review

The first annual Southeastern Craft Brewers Symposium held on April 19th, 2014 was a smashing success! We started the day by gathering in the expo room and enjoying coffee, while getting to meet and greet with the speakers, brewmasters, suppliers, and most importantly - the future leaders of Georgia's brewing industry.

John Pinkerton, President of the GCBG and Brewmaster/Owner of Moon River, got the seminars to a start by giving some wonderful words of encouragement during his opening statements. John's "state of the industry" talk gave everyone some insight into how the leaders of the Guild and brewers across the state are moving to protect and promote Georgia's craft beer industry.

To kick off the morning science seminars, President Pinkerton proved he knows more than a little on the topic of yeast and BJCP Grandmaster Judge Phil Farrell gave an excellent talk on tasting for off-flavors in finished beer. The business seminars started with the attorneys from Taylor, Feil, Harper, Lumsden & Hess covering various legal issues such as incorporation, employment law, and the state's regulatory requirements. I think it's a great sign that attendees poured out of the seminar rooms with pages and pages of notes - there was a ton of useful information being passed down from our speakers!

The attendees and speakers then broke for lunch in wonderful downtown Decatur. Of course Twain’s and the Brickstore Pub were popular spots and the Symposium crew had plenty of time to grab some food, maybe a pint, and gear up for 3 more hours of learning.

As everyone reconvened the afternoon seminars began with Derek Imes of Principia Investment Advisors and Chris Herron from Creature Comforts leading a course on financing a brewery and cash flow management on the business side. At the same time Chase Medlin of Twain’s, John Roberts from Max Lager’s and Spike Bukowski, Terrapin’s Brewmaster lead a panel discussion on writing creative beer recipes on the science side. Then we moved into seminars on planning for large scale brewing from Joel Iverson of Monday Night, David Stein and Adam Beauchamp of Creature Comforts while Ryan Kurlfink of Smart Machines and Drew Bowen of Bowen Electric talked about commercial brewing equipment and considerations for the physical plant. Finally we wrapped the symposium with a wonderful class on hops from the brewers at Red Brick and a panel discussion on the brewery-distributor relationship with 3 representatives from Georgia's distribution tier.

Naturally the fun didn't end there - almost 100 of the Symposium's 150 attendees headed over to Three Taverns Brewery for a special tour. There, we were able to see a production brewery up close and personal and enjoy some fantastic beers. Chants of “Quad, Quad, Quad” even inspired Brewmaster Brian Purcell to give us a special preview of Quasimodo…delicious! Conversation abounded in the tasting room where attendees and speakers were able to further talk about the future of brewing in Georgia. There was even a rare sneak peek at the new Wild Heaven brewery still under construction thanks to Brewmaster Eric Johnson! It was a can't miss event for anyone wanted to network in the craft beer industry!

We've asked our attendees for some feedback on this festival, and so far the overwhelming sentiment is that it was a tremendous success. The Guild is looking forward to growing the Symposium next year and delving deeper into some of the topics that we think will help our future brewers and our current ones. I am so excited about the intelligent, thoughtful entrepreneurs that attended the Symposium this year and I can't wait for to see them in Georgia's brewing industry soon!!