- December 12, 2013
The small batch breweries of the southeastern U.S. and of Florida are uniting in a big way this March in Sarasota at the first annual Florida Craft Beer Summit.
Hosted and organized by Sarasota's own JDub's Brewing Company, the beer industry summit will be the first event of its kind in Florida one of the very first throughout the entire southeastern United States. Running March 14 through 16 at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota, the summit will include dozens of panels and classes led by local and national industry leaders in the brewing business to teach up-and-coming brewers and professionals alike tips dealing with everything from yeast maturation, finance and marketing, appealing to regional distributors, and collaborating with local city officials.
Interested attendees can register for the conference at floridacraftbeersummit.com. Tickets for the three-day event cost $225 before March 1, and include all the classes, panels, receptions and tour of three local breweries: Big Top Brewing Company, Darwin Brewing Co., and JDub's.
"I've been to similar conferences all across the country and always took back home to Sarasota a wealth of information to help my business," says Jeremy Joerger, founder and CEO of JDub's Brewing Company, "and I started thinking of have we had one here? No and should there be one? Yes."
Joerger, who opened JDub's in 2013, says that for him starting out the most beneficial aspect of the business was its fraternal nature and the advice and tips he received from regional brewers like Joey Redner, founder and CEO of Cigar City Brewing in Tampa.
Joerger says he hopes this summit will be an annual event to not only let professional brewers network with industry leaders, but to also give encouragement and advice to those men and women who are just on the cusp of starting their own brewery. And with local breweries only accounting for 5% of total beer sales in all of Sarasota and Bradenton, Joerger is looking forward to even more breweries coming to Sarasota.
"I'm looking forward to more up and coming breweries with one caveat that quality has to be first and foremost on all of our minds," says Joerger. "I'm not competing with Darwin's or Big Top, we're all in this together. That's one of the really cool things that attracted me to this industry. It's very fraternal."
Featured speakers at the summit include Brian Buckowski, brewmaster and co-founder of Terrapin Brewing Company in Athens, Ga.; Bart Watson, chief economist from the Brewers Association, the non-profit trade organization that represents small business brewers around the country; Jeremy Cowan, owner and founder of Schmaltz Brewing Company in Clifton Park, N.Y.; and Cigar City Brewing founder and CEO Joey Rednor.