Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend the Master Brewers Association of the Americas' Mid-Atlantic District meeting in Northern Virginia. Simply put: it was a fun, informative and certainly worthwhile trip.
The first night we loaded up a shuttle from the hotel to the welcome party at Beltway Brewing Company. As we passed beers around the shuttle we realized that of the 15 or so guys on the bus, only one was beardless...clearly he was the only one who was not a brewer. Beltway Brewing is a pretty cool operation. They are a contract brewery, only producing beer for other operations, while having none of their own brands. It’s an interesting business model, and one that will likely gain steam with so many new start-up and expanding breweries. The real treat of the night for me was getting to try a friend of mine’s beer that Beltway produces for him (check out Wooden Skiff Brewing Company when you get the chance)!
Saturday morning came bright and early and we headed over to Lost Rhino Brewing Company for the day’s lectures and meetings (and coffee...and later, beer). There were great presentations on everything from beer stabilization aids (including one capable of producing beers with gluten content below 20ppm - which I have used successfully on a homebrew scale for a friend with Celiac disease) to the effect of mashing regimes on sour beers. This latter presentation from Michael Tonsmeire, author of the new book American Sour Beers: Innovative Techniques for Mixed Fermentations, was probably my favorite of the day with lots of practical advice for manipulating the production of different flavors by wild yeasts and bacteria.
After a long day of presentations and MBAA district business, it was time for happy hour and an awesome catered dinner. When you fill a room with over a hundred brewers, the beer cooler is a thing of beauty, and somehow it magically refills itself. It was a fun night filled with interesting beers and lots of talking shop with other brewers. It was my first MBAA meeting in my new Mid-Atlantic District, and certainly won’t be my last. There’s such a wealth of knowledge shared at these meetings that I’d seriously recommend joining the MBAA to anyone working on the production side of the brewing business.