Unlike the Great American Beer Festival held each fall in Denver, the Craft Brewers Conference is solely open to professionals and not open to the general public. The conference brings together brewers, marketers, suppliers and equipment makers, among other professionals of the craft beer industry. It’s become a must for many brewers. It’s unique in that no other conference in the world is solely focused on just the craft brewers and their needs. Moreover, the event is an international affair bringing brewers and the wider beer industry from around the world.
What? Italian Craft Beer?
This year, the event may mark a special moment in the history of the beer world. Italy, who is not associated with craft beer, will be coming into its own at this year’s conference as several Italian craft beer producers will be attending. Giovanni Campari, Italy’s most awarded brewer from Birrificio Del Ducato, will be attending. Also expected will be Bruno Carilli owner and brewer of Toccalmatto. After years of working in the industrial beer sector, Carilli set out on his own and joined the third generation of Italian brewers who helped push their scene forward. His hoppier styles are changing the Italian palate. Perhaps the father of Italian craft beer collaborations, Carilli triggered many brewers in Italy to follow suit. But none of this would have been happening if it weren’t for one of the originators of the movement, Agostino Arioli owner/brewer of Birrificio Italiano. So important was Agostino to the movement that he added a new world to the Italian lexicon—birrificio. The real word for brewery in Italian is birreria, a word which leaves a connotation of industry. Agostino twisted the word by adding the suffix ficio which suggests something more suitable to food, like paneficio for bread makers. Birrificio has become the standard word for artisanal beer in Italy.
Since its inception in 1996, Italian craft beer has grown steadily and in the last five years exploded on the beer scene, reaching as far as Japan in the east, Australia in the south and making a splash here in the US. Winning several acclaimed world beer awards, the Italians are beginning to turn some heads. This year’s conference is especially important. Every two years, the CBC hosts the World Beer Cup, often referred to as the Olympics of craft beer competitions since only one Gold, one Silver and one Bronze are awarded for each of the 95 categories. It’s not a surprise then that two of this year’s beer judges are Italian, Anna Managò and Lorenzo “Kuaska” Dabove.
Kuaska is probably the most important piece of the Italian craft beer movement. A long time aficionado of beer, Kuaska had been traveling the beer circuits of Belgium, Germany and England for some time before Italy began to appear in the picture. From the first days of the movement in Italy, Kuaska became their messiah, offering advice and leading the brewers to brew better beer. As an Italian beer judge, he was critical in not only trumpeting the quality of the beer, but more importantly in helping Italy develop some of the finest craft breweries in the world.
Denver’s Beer and Butter
For Denver, this isn’t just another beer festival; it’s our beer and butter. Colorado is such an important part of the craft beer movement worldwide, a keystone to the entire craft beer world. It’s no coincidence that the annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is held here in Denver. Like this April’s Craft Brewers Conference, the GABF is organized by the world’s most important craft beer institution, the Brewer’s Association headquartered in Boulder.
Through April 8-11 Denver will be bubbling with beer nerds from around the world. They will be thirsty to try our world renowned craft beer, hungry for Denver’s avant garde local foods and excited to be amongst some of the world’s greatest beer fanatics, Coloradoans. So come join the party and meet some of Italy’s finest brewers as they become the toast of the town.