“It’s the largest gathering for the craft brewing industry, or the craft brewing community as we like to think of it,” said Barbara Fusco, spokeswoman for the Brewers Association, which organized the conference.
With 58 breweries located in the city limits and 83 in the metro area, Portlanders knows a thing or two about the craft beer movement.
More than 11,000 industry members and craft brew enthusiasts flocked to the Oregon Convention Center Wednesday. Their conversations mingled with the whirring of robotic bottling machines and the bittersweet smell of fresh hops.
“There are certain areas throughout the country which have been leaders in the craft brewery area,” said Fusco. “I think San Diego, the Front Range of Colorado, and certainly Portland — the Pacific Northwest in general.”
This popularity was part of the reason the Brewers Association chose to host this year’s conference in Portland, and Oregon craft brewers have appreciated having it close to home.
“This is as good as it gets,” said Matt Molletta, sales manager at Crux Fermentation Project in Bend. “It’s obviously a great stage to get our brand out, and just being able to touch base with everyone in one central location is a huge advantage.”
The Brewers Association predicts a significant impact from this event on the state as a whole.
“We expect an economic impact of tens of millions of dollars,” said Fusco. “I hear it’s impossible to get a hotel room this week.”
Eastern Oregon University will do an economic impact study of the Craft Brewers Conference. Beyond the simple economic impact this conference has, Fusco believes there is a much broader and more profound cultural impact gathering several thousand leaders of a booming industry in Portland.
“There’s an energy that spreads from CBC, brewers come and get more excited, and they bring that inspiration home,” said Fusco. “At the end of the day, craft brewers love to share. They make a beer to share their artistry.”
The conference is not open to the public. However, there are hundreds of satellite events around Portland all week, as well as numerous specials at local bars and breweries.
“There’s still a lot of good beer in town to drink,” said Molletta.