Beer Conference, Brussels
This week we attended a Beer Industry conference in Brussels - hosted by the research specialist company, Canadean. Despite the fact the conference was mainly for alcoholic beer companies and brewers, we thought it would be useful to go along anyway.
On the first day, we were taken to the Stella Artois brewery on the stuffiest coach in the history of coaches. It happened to be the hottest day of the year so far and both the ceiling vent and the air conditioning were broken. But after an hour long trawl through rush hour traffic, we finally arrived (although we weren’t allowed off the bus for another 20 minutes as there was “hazardous” construction work going on, so we had to be driven slowly to the front door). We wouldn’t say the experience made us fall in love with Stella, but it was interesting to see such a substantial brewery at work.
The next day however, we were pleasantly surprised to find that going alcohol-free was a hot topic!
The first presentation was done by global beer company, ABinBev, who spoke about their merger with SABmiller and how, by 2025, they want alcohol free/low alcohol products to represent 20% of their global beer volume. This is (as they so wonderfully put it) ‘to foster a culture of smart drinking globally to reduce the harmful use of alcohol’. We were incredibly pleased to hear all this as it’s exactly what our company was founded upon and meant that we fit right in!
We listened to a lot of presentations, spoke to a lot of people and made plenty of useful notes and connections over the two days. We even had dinner in the city centre with a Russian man called Kirill and his wife Elena, who were both lovely people!
If any of the talks stood out for us, it was most likely the one about the AF Czech beer - Birell, which is associated with the Pilsner Urquell brewery. The talk was done by a man called Grant who was in charge of the branding & marketing of Birell. He spoke about how they had managed to build it up over the years to be the most popular AF beer in the whole of Czech Republic and the ways in which they did so. It was very useful to us, and also very inspiring!
After the conference had come to an end, we thought we deserved a beer or two. So we went out for the evening to get ourselves a little taste of Belgium. One place we went to, called Moeder Lambic, had some especially fantastic beers - not too carbonated either, some quite similar to ales we get in the UK (which we love). If you're in Brussels and have any spare time, we highly recommend it!
Once all three days were up, we were feeling a tad drained from all the extreme listening we had been doing. But we flew home with our heads held high, our brains filled with endless beer knowledge and our pockets stuffed with business cards. Another productive trip!