Craft Brewers Conference makes D.C. top shelf

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Entertainment,Robert Fulton

To the D.C. metro area, welcome to the craft beer big time.

From Tuesday through Friday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the Brewers Association's annual Craft Brewers Conference pours into the District. The event features movers and shakers, as well as up-and-comers in the craft beer industry, gathering to discuss the scene in general and showcase each other's product.

"It's a great honor to have the entire industry coming to D.C. this year," said Bill Butcher, the founder of Port City Brewing Co. in Alexandria. "I see it as an opportunity for us to showcase our burgeoning craft brewing scene."

Butcher said he's been attending the annual conference since 2009. He added that the event is intended to bring the entire industry together to share ideas, network, talk about the scene, make friends and share beer.

If you go
Craft Brewers Conference
» Where: Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt. Vernon Place NW
» When: Tuesday through Friday
» Info: Registration required; craftbrewersconference.com

Conference highlights include a BrewExpo, brewery tours and a number of speakers and seminars. New Belgium co-founder and CEO Kim Jordan will give the keynote address.

Butcher will participate in a panel discussing start-up financing options. He said he gets calls all the time for advice, and saw this as an opportunity to share his story.

"It is an important topic and one that a lot of start-ups grapple with," Butcher said. "We're in an industry that's very capital intensive, and requires a lot of equipment, and that equipment is very expensive."

Revealing secrets of the trade or lending a hand to a newbie is common in the craft beer world.

"The craft beer industry is very open," Butcher said, adding that Port City is planning to double its production to 12,000 barrels a year. "There's a collaborative spirit in our industry. We're fortunate to have that."

Butcher said that though the D.C. area has a ways to go before it reaches the level of premier beer cities such as Denver, Portland and San Diego, having the Craft Brewers Conference inside the Beltway lends a sense of legitimacy.

"I believe it's a chance for us to showcase our local brewing scene," Butcher said. "The D.C. craft brewing scene really is exploding, and it's captured the attention of the Brewers Association. Our region is on the national map as one of the most dynamic craft beer scenes in the country. I think that's something that says a lot about the new breweries that are opening up here, the enthusiastic customer base we have here in the D.C. area, and I think it's an exciting time to be a beer drinker in the D.C. area, and an exciting time to be in the beer business in the D.C. area."

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