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Steve Hindy co-founder of Brooklyn Brewery

Record numbers of delegates have attended this year’s Australian Craft Brewers Conference (ACBC), which kicked off yesterday at the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre.

Around 230 delegates turned up for the craft brewing industry’s key annual get-together, an increase of 40 per cent on last year’s figure, according to conference organiser the CBIA.

The 2015 conference has already been hailed a success, with expo space completely sold out and 50 speakers participating in a packed program of presentations across two days.

The event opened with a keynote speech from Steve Hindy, co-founder of Brooklyn Brewery, who enthralled the large crowd of brewers and beer aficionados with a first-hand account of the rise of the American craft beer scene, a history that shed light on Australia’s own nascent industry.

Hindy stressed the interest in craft beer showed no sign of waning in the US. “One and a half craft breweries are opening everyday,” he said.

Other sessions at yesterday’s conference included a talk on sour ales by Filip Sneppe of Belgium’s Rodenbach Brewery and a guide to starting a brewery featuring BentSpoke Brewing’s Richard Watkins and 8 Wired Brewing’s Soren Erikson.

A presentation on sourcing growth funding was particularly well attended, with Stone & Wood’s Jamie Cook introducing the discussion by suggesting craft brewers would need to find $85m of capital to invest if they wanted to secure a further 5 per cent of the total beer market.

“If we don’t do it, the big brewers will fill that demand for craft beer,” Cook said. “They can flick that switch from their mainstream beer to their craft alternatives.”

The conference concludes today with presentations on new brewing techniques, brewery upgrades, brand building and more.

Written by Paul Wootton

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