Founders founders recognize homebrewers’ authenticity
National Homebrewers Conference attendees don’t all dream of going pro, but Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens want to see more homebrewers take the plunge. During their conference keynote address, the founders of Founders Brewing Company asked thousands of assembled homebrewers, “Who’s gonna be the next gamechanger? Who’s gonna be the next Sam Calagione?”
Dave and Mike admitted that, 20 years ago, when they started their brewery things were different. After playing a little too fast and loose, they had an ultimatum from their landlord: pay up, or your brewery’s doors would be chained shut. They had six days to come up with half a million dollars. “Our business model sucked,” joked Mike.
Though it was a painful time for Founders, they pulled out of the financial turmoil and found a clearer vision. After hiring a new brewer, Dave and Mike coined a new brewery slogan: “Brewed for us.” That reflected their renewed commitment to flavor and recipes—flavors they wanted to brew, like Dirty Bastard, Breakfast Stout and Curmudgeon. In fact, the Bolt Cutter 15th Anniversary Barleywine is specifically named after that episode with their overdue debts.
Drawing on these hard-learned lessons, Dave and Mike had advice for homebrewers dreaming of starting their own brewery; actually it’s more of a checklist. According to their experience, you need passion, quality beer, uniqueness and professionalism.
“You can’t fake authenticity. We need to keep craft brewing authentic,” Dave said, “and you [homebrewers] are the only ones who can pull that off.”
“The future is sitting among us,” Mike said, “So what are you going to do?” The crowd shouted “Brew beer!” and he agreed, with a qualifier—”Brew great beer.”
First Time Attendee Guide
See You in San Diego!
We’re bringing the 2015 National Homebrewers Conference back to San Diego for the first time since 2011!
- What: National Homebrewers Conference
- Where: Town & Country Resort in San Diego, Calif.
- When: June 11 – 13, 2015
The 2015 conference will be open exclusively to AHA members. Similar to last years conference registration, members interested in attending can apply to register at anytime during the February 18 – 24 application window. This application process eliminates the first-come first-served aspect of registration. With a 4,000+ attendee capacity, we anticipate being able to accommodate all AHA members who want to attend, but should there be more we will use a random selection method to determine which members can register. Those who are not chosen on the first go-around of the selection process will be kept on a wait list in case of registration cancellations. All AHA lifetime members who apply will be guaranteed an opportunity to register. In addition, registration will be reserved for AHA members with a Beer Judge Certification Program rank of National or higher up to the number of judges needed for the Final Round of the National Homebrew Competition.
We will be bringing back the lower-priced Social Package in 2015. The Social Package does not include access to conference seminars. Anyone registered for a Full Conference registration will be able to add a guest for a Social Package registration, as long as both registrants are AHA members. For more information on the 2015 National Homebrewers Conference, see AHA Director Gary Glass’ column “From the Glass” in the January/February 2015 issue of Zymurgy magazine. Access this issue and many more online or from your mobile device! Additional conference details will be available on AHAConference.org in mid-January.
Photo from Flickr user Bill Kuffrey
2015 Call for Presentations
Great Homebrewers Flock to the Great Lake State
AHA National Homebrewers Conference concludes with competition award ceremony
Grand Rapids, MI ∙ June 14, 2014 — The National Homebrew Competition boasted one of the most competitive fields of entries ever, with 8,172 homebrews judged in 2014. The American Homebrewers Association (AHA) awarded the best homebrewers for their efforts at the conclusion of the National Homebrewers Conference, held at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Read the complete press release.
Homebrew Expo Bigger and Better
Ready to do some shopping in one of the world’s greatest homebrew shops? Go right to the source and talk to the folks behind the homebrewing companies you know and love—or get familiar with some of the suppliers that are new to you!
With 74 sponsors exhibiting at Homebrew Expo throughout the conference, you’re bound to find something cool, whether it’s a super-automated brew sculpture or new yeast strains.
Homebrew Expo Hours:
Thursday: 11:00 am-5:00 pm
Friday: 11:00 am-5:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am-3:30 pm
Don’t forget, the Brewers Publications Bookstore is found right at front of Homebrew Expo. Copies of the newly released book, American Sour Beers: Innovative Techniques for Mixed Fermentations, by Michael Tonsmeire, will be available at a 40% pre-sale discount to AHA members.
Check the schedule for author signings happening at the bookstore throughout the National Homebrewers Conference.
Two Grand Commemorative Beers
Michigan’s craft brewing masters have pulled out all the stops on two delicious commemorative beers for this year’s National Homebrewers Conference. Attendees will take home a bomber of each of these special beers.
Founders Brewing Company: Oak Aged Rye IPA
This 7.2% ABV rye beer is a collaboration between Founders’ brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki and homebrewing legend Jeff Carlson. Along with the rye, they used Munich and crystal malts to assemble this fine beer’s backbone. It was then hopped with Cascade, German Magnum and Perle hops. Last—but not least—they aged the beer on American white oak for multiple weeks.
Bell’s Brewery, Inc.: Beer Michigan
Jeff Carlson is at it again! He collaborated with Andy Farrell of Bell’s, Kevin Rayl, Bell’s General Store, Kalamazoo Libation Organization of Brewers, Shepherd Barley Growers and Hophead Farms to create a hefty barleywine. This 10% ABV beer lives up to its name with Michigan-grown malts and hops, plus the Mitten State’s fine water and Bell’s house yeast.
Cheers to a great week of craft beer, homebrew and all things beer!
Welcome to Grand Rapids!
The National Homebrewers Conference kicked off Thursday with a special—new!—event, the Welcome Reception. Much like the Pro-Brewers Night of years past, the Welcome Reception featured a host of delicious craft beers from some of the best professional breweries.
But here’s the twist: these breweries all hailed from the Mitten State. Thanks to terrific support from the conference’s official Michigan beer sponsor, the Michigan Brewers Guild, homebrewers were treated to great beer from more than 50 Michigan brewers. Plus, many pro brewers were on hand to mingle with attendees, answer questions about their beers and celebrate the start of the conference with the welcome toast.
The conference kicks into high gear on Friday, with the keynote address, presented by Dave Engbers, and Mike Stevens, of Michigan’s own (see a pattern here?) Founders Brewing Company. Plus, Friday night features Club Night, which promises to be bigger, better and wackier than ever.
Brewing Network Party at the Ballpark
This year’s Brewing Network (BN) party is going to be the biggest ever!
Join us Thursday night at Fifth Third Ballpark during the National Homebrewers Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Justin Crossley and the BN gang rented out the entire Fifth Third Ballpark, the home of West Michigan’s minor league baseball team, the Whitecaps. With your ticket purchase, you will enjoy an all-you-can-eat dinner, a large selection of craft beer from more than 30 commercial breweries and an exclusive venue experience like never before! If that’s not enough, join the homerun derby on the field, soak your favorite Brewing Network brewcaster in the dunk tank and compete against your fellow homebrewers in the fast pitch challenge. And this is just scratching the surface.
Get your tickets now before they sell out, and celebrate The Brewing Network’s ninth anniversary!
- When: Thursday, Jun 12, 2014 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
- Ticket Price: $50.00-$85.00
- Show Type: Special Event
- Restrictions: 21 & over
- Where: Fifth Third Ballpark, Comstock Park, Michigan