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Conference Highlights The Art - And Business - Of Craft Beer

Jim Hill

Thousands of craft beer professionals from the U.S. and around the world are gathering in Denver this week for the annual Craft Brewer’s Conference.

The craft brewing industry has grown significantly over the last few years. In 2013, the volume of craft beer produced grew to nearly 8 percent of the total U.S. beer market.

The conference for small, independent brewers appears to be following the same upward trend.

"We’re looking at a 40 percent increase in attendance in 2014 over our event last year," says Barbara Fusco with the Brewer’s Association, an industry group based in Boulder. "[We have] 8,900 attendees from all over the country – and in fact, all over the world – here to learn and network and talk about the business of craft brewing."

Unlike tasting showcases like the Great American Beer Festival, the Craft Brewer’s Conference is an industry-only event focused primarily on the business of running a craft brewery or brewpub. More than 80 seminars are slated, on topics ranging from safety to marketing to sustainability issues.

Michael Pollan, author of a number of books on food including The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Cooked, will give the keynote address Wednesday.

"He has an interest in where food comes from, an interest in local, an interest in authentic," Fusco says. "Those are points that resonate with craft brewers and craft beer enthusiasts, who are choosing to drink full flavor beers that are local - to their neighborhoods, in many cases."

The Craft Brewer’s Conference continues through Friday at the downtown Convention Center. Although the conference itself isn’t open to the general public, there are a number of craft beer-related events planned throughout the week in Denver. Find a list of events here.

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