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Michigan Brewers Guild Hosts Great Beer State Conference in Traverse City

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It’s been a difficult year and a half for restaurants and breweries during the pandemic, and businesses are hoping to learn some insight from their peers.

“We’re all optimistic that next year’s going to look better than last year,” said Michigan Brewers Guild Executive Director Scott Graham.

In what’s been an uncertain year for restaurants and breweries, the Michigan Brewers Guild is hosting their annual Great Beer State Conference to offer a look at trends in the industry.

“Our conference is divided into tracks and different categories,” said Graham. “One of them being the technical aspects of making beer, another one being more business focused. We’ve also combined our annual conference with the Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference, so we have two agriculture tracks. One is focused on growing hops, and another on growing malting barley. It’s a pretty broad spectrum of beer-related topics.”

While brewers get to learn about what’s new, there’s also been some issues that’s continued in from the last couple years, like supply shortages.

“The raw materials supply chain has been pretty variable, and sometimes it’s more of a shipping issue than it even is the materials,” said Graham. “Everything’s been complicated.”

Brewers say, though, the insight from other brewers is valuable.

“It helps us forecast a) how we’re going to package, what we’re going to package with, what hops we want to use, what malts we want to use, what’s in high demand, what’s in low demand,” said Traverse City’s Fresh Coast Beer Works Operations Manager and Experimental Brewer December Lee. “We can make adjustments on our small level according to that information that we get.”

And learning from others is what the conference is all about, says Lee.

“As we grow and move into those type of packaging and distributing, I can take what we’ve learned here and move forward to see what is more economically viable for us and our business,” said Lee.