Metro, Food

Beer Summit Taps Local Breweries In Weekend Festival

A 4-ounce tasting mug is not the only thing participants of Boston’s Beer Summit walked away with this past weekend.

Whether it was finding a new favorite brew or meeting the brewer himself, “there is really something for every type of beer drinker to discover,” co-producer Mike Munnelly said in a press release.

During this two-day convention, entrants had the opportunity to meet brewers, brewery reps, and brewery owners as they walked the aisles of vendor displays and sampled the variations of beer that each supplier had to offer.

“There’s multiple different layers of people to meet in the brewery business who are there,” co-producer of the Boston Beer Summit Connor Brennan said.

The Summit was organized around three and a half hour tasting sessions, spanning from Friday night to Saturday night, during which brewers shared a minimum of three different brews.

For the last 10 years, the Summit has been held at the Park Plaza Castle. “It’s a fantastic venue,” Brennan said. “The hall has 14,500 sq. ft. of ground floor space, in the center of Boston, supported by within five minutes of two or three different T stops, multiple bus routes, and it’s down between the Theater District and Chinatown.”

Obtaining the numbers to reach that sort of venue, however, was a slow and steady process. The event was originally held in a hotel function room. “It grew from the attendance of probably 300 people to 500 at the hotel—and then from 500 to two sessions of 500, to three sessions of 500, to one day at the Castle,” Brennan said.

The Park Plaza Castle accommodates 1,300 people a day. This time, 16 events later, the Beer Summit held a Friday night session and two Saturday sessions that engaged over 3,000 participants.

One of the goals of the Summit is to bring in the younger demographic of the city. “Boston is a college town, so we get thousands of new college students come through the town every year,” Brennan said. “So really, our main goal is to work with some of our partners to really reach out to the people who are coming into the town to experience the great beers that we have to offer.”

The Summit puts an emphasis on local breweries, with 30 of the 58 participating breweries coming from New England, according to a Boston’s Beer Summit press release.

“Having lived and worked around the country, I think that Boston has always been ahead of the trend and has done a lot to foster the American craft beer movement,” Munnelly told The Boston Herald.

The event includes several international perspectives, Brennan noted. “It’s not only local beers … we had a Stiegl from Austria, Hofbrau from Germany. We had a small craft brewer from Ireland who was over for the first time.”

Breweries also travel from states across the country, such as Illinois, Colorado, and California.

While the event continues to expand, Brennan notes the importance of keeping a relationship with each participating vendor.

“It’s always about the beer, and reconnecting with people that we’ve gotten to know over the last 10 years who come back to the shows,” he said.

Although many of the vendors return year after year, the Summit evolves with the industry.

“The beer business is constantly changing,” Brennan said. “There are things that have to change. We have to keep getting new brewers to come and keep getting the word out about our show.”

Each brewery is required to bring three different brews for participants to taste. Some, Brennan said, bring as many as six or seven.

While each Summit may include many of the same vendors as the last one, Brennan notes that each convention differs because of “the changing of beer, the changing of breweries, [and] breweries that bring different beers each time.”

Boston’s Beer Summit, while contributing a forum for beer consumers and makers to come together, also partners with a charity each year.

Over the past six years, Brennan and four of his colleagues have rode in the Pan Mass Challenge, an annual bike-a-thon that raises money for life-saving cancer research, under the Beer Summit Team name. Cumulatively, the team members have raised $129,000.

Looking to the future, Brennan and his colleagues will wait just one week before calling the vendors, thanking them for coming to the show, and giving them a save-the-date for the next summit.

Featured Image Courtesy of Boston Beer Summit

April 22, 2015

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