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Craft Brewers Conference kicks off today

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It’s the annual meeting of the beer minds. It’s where craft beer meets fancy convention without the fancy dress. It’s the 2011 Craft Brewers Conference in San Francisco, the nation’s largest gathering for professionals in the brewing industry.

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Every year the Brewer’s Association hosts the Craft Brewers Conference, an opportunity for craft beer professionals to meet, talk and learn about happenings in the industry or new technologies, collaborate on new projects or just see old friends.

The conference opens with a keynote from brewing legends Fritz Maytag, former owner of Anchor Steam, and Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada. Maytag is often considered the father of the craft beer movement and is revered for his focus on high quality and flavor in beer that makes craft beer what it is.

Grossman, who was inspired by Maytag, started Sierra Nevada when there were less than 50 breweries in the U.S. Today, there are over 1,600 operating breweries, the most since pre-prohibition times.

“I’m thrilled to welcome two pioneers of the craft brewing industry to the stage at this year’s CBC,” said Paul Gatza, Brewers Association director. Fritz and Ken have a collaborative relationship and focus on quality and flavor that represents a key part of the heritage of craft brewing.”

The conference also includes workshops that cover almost every facet of the brewing industry, from technical topics such as fermentation and hops varieties to startups, taxes and sales.

The BrewExpo America, the nations largest trade show for the craft beer industry will feature over 200 vendors from every aspect of the industry as well.

And of course there will be beer. Hospitality suites will be showcasing some of the craft brewing industry’s finest and a commemorative four-pack was brewed just for the conference. The four-pack, dubbed “Symposium Ales”, includes an IPA, an Oyster Stout, a Sour Brown and a Porter.

The conference began with an Opening Ceremony on Wednesday with the keynote, BrewExpo and sessions starting today and wraps up on Saturday night.

For more information on the Craft Brewer’s Conference, go to www.CraftBrewersConference.com.

For live updates on what's happening at the CBC, follow @BeachBumChris and check out his Twit Pics.

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