Summit Beer Festival

Behind the Brews: California Craft Beer Summit 2016

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California’s New Gold Rush

California is in the midst of another gold rush. This time the gold comes in the sudsy, sometimes hoppy form of craft beer. In recent years the Golden State has seen a craft beer explosion, with seemly a new brewery opening its doors every day.

Summit Beers
The Summit Beer Festival will feature more than 400 beers.
Courtesy: CCBA

So it was only a matter of time before there would be an event bringing the best beer makers in the state together to talk business and show of their wares. Enter the California Craft Beer Summit hosted by the California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA).

“The CCBA wanted to produce an annual event that would be a fundraiser for the association. We didn’t want to do just another beer festival,” says Tom McCormick, Executive Director for the CCBA.

Instead the CCBA created a three-day beer symposium. The beer festival is still the centerpiece of the weekend featuring more than 450 different beers from more than 160 different California breweries. But the event also brings together a trade show, educational seminars and the opportunity to network with the best in brewing.

“(It’s) an event where attendees could expand their understanding and knowledge of craft beer and the industry. We also wanted to bring together not just consumers, but retailers, the hospitality industry and beer wholesalers. That was the original vision of the summit,” say McCormick.


Summit Capitol
The beer festival in the shadow of the State Capitol Building in Sacramento. Courtesy: CCBA

The trade show and educational sessions will take place at the Sacramento Convention Center starting Friday. The Summit Beer Festival will line Sacramento’s Capitol Mall Saturday afternoon in the shadow of the State Capitol Building. It’s a location chosen for reasons as political as they are practical.

“The Summit helps our policy efforts by showing policymakers how vibrant and important the craft brewing industry is in California. The decision makers at the state Capitol can’t help but notice the excitement this event brings to town. The Summit help puts the craft brewing industry on the political radar,” McCormick explains. One of the main functions of the CCBA is to try to ensure legislative and policy changes do not negatively impact its members.

Though the event is just in its second year local brewers say they already see it as a valuable part of the state’s growing craft beer landscape.

“There will be many eyes and ears watching this year’s Summit, and most likely will be impacting much of the local craft scene for the next year,” says David Mathis, owner of American River Brewing Company. “With each new brewery, there is a new vision and a new approach to brewing. California has always been THE leader in brewing and the Summit is a major exclamation point.”  


Summit Showcase
Visitors entering last year’s Summit Showcase
Courtesy: CCBA

Mathis is a long-standing member of the CCBA and his brewery will pour a special barrel-aged beer on the trade show floor. He says the more successful this summit becomes, the more successful the craft beer business will be in California.

“I enjoy every opportunity to meet and discuss the industry with my fellow brewers. I discover new approaches to help me both improve as a brewer and as a business owner,” he explains. “Getting this much raw talent and experience together in one place only fuels the engine that makes all of us better and more successful.”

The CCBA looks to build on last year’s summit, expanding the trade show floor with more hand-on displays. The beer festival will have a new layout and will also be color-coded by region. McCormick also says there’s one other change that attendees are sure to appreciate, “More food and better food.”

Still he says these are really just subtle differences, “The main theme, vibe and intent of the Summit has not changed from last year, but it is definitely improved from last year.”

The California Craft Beer Summit takes place September 8 through 10th in Sacramento. For more information visit

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