The Craft Beverage Expo, created for independent beverage producers five years ago, is returning to Kentucky on December 3-5. I recently spoke to Executive Director Kellie Shevlin about the show and what attendees can expect to experience at the conference.
Beverage Wholesaler: Why was the Craft Beverage Expo created?
Kellie Shevlin: This show was created to help independent craft producers navigate the complicated distribution market. Distribution is the single biggest issue for craft producers large and small. Once you have a craft operation, the biggest problem is access to market. The big beverage manufacturers have worked very hard to control access and to control distributors. Our conference teaches producers how to maneuver through this process using both traditional and non-traditional distribution methods as well as on and off premise sales.
BW: How does the Craft Beverage Expo differ from other industry events?
KS: Our show starts after the product is in a tank or barrel. Other industry events spend a lot of time talking about production methods or fermentation best practices. We spend 100% of the conference talking about distribution and how to be seen by the consumer. We are also the only event that brings together the beer, wine, spirits, cider and mead industries together for three days. I have found that this cross-category collaboration is so important to move the entire craft market forward.
BW: What can attendees hope to gain from attending the CBE?
KS: Our attendees will get practical business solution to sell their product through whatever channel they currently use–from tasting rooms to showing up in large supermarkets and restaurants. Our attendees are able to learn from the successes from other industries and how to apply the lessons to their own vertical market. We also have a great tradeshow for Craft beverage producers. Every exhibitor on our floor wants to do business with our attendees.
BW: Why was Louisville chosen as a host city?
KS: We have found that the Southeast is a great location for this event, and Kentucky has such a rich beverage history. We have been embraced by this community and look forward to growing our show in this market. There are more barrels of bourbon aging in Kentucky then there are horses and people combined.
BW: Who should attend?
KS: This event is for any independent craft producer that wants to grow their business. Craft producers are passion-driven and that actually makes for a really fun show. Our attendees are laid back and lively. We serve products such as beer, wine, spirits, sake, cider and mead from all over the U.S., and a lot of the product we serve during our tastings each day is produced by our attendees and speakers. Our people are not only building business relations, but also making friends.
To find out more about the Craft Beverage Expo, visit craftbeverageexpo.com.