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Ten days across the states

Embarking on a 10-day American brewers road trip adventure through the vibrant craft beer landscapes of New York City and Philadelphia, Crisp Malt teammates Mike Benson and Josh Wurzbacher seized the opportunity presented by the approaching 2024 Craft Brewers Conference. Their mission, to forge partnerships and explore the industry’s latest trends while immersing themselves in the rich tapestry of brewing culture that defines these iconic cities.

The journey embarked on a collaborative odyssey with Talea Beer Co, crafting a Japanese Style Rice Lager under the expert guidance of Head Brewer Eric Brown. Eric designed the beer, using Clear Choice and flaked rice, to be an easy to drink summer beer that had depth but finished dry. After a successful brew day with the brewers at Talea, Mike and Josh headed to Wild East Brewing, who had just won a gold medal at the New York State Craft Brewers Conference with a beer brewed with 100% Crisp Malt. Co-founder and head Brewer Brett Taylor took time out of his busy brew schedule to share his philosophy and love for English Beers.

“Our overarching philosophy is that for each style of beer we want to use the perfect ingredient, the perfect process, and the perfect package. So, for our English ales, we use Crisp malt and our favorite English ale yeast. Then we package in casks and on nitro. And you know what? The public is responding. These are styles that were DOA during the hype haze era. Our taproom is selling through two pins a week of beers like bitters and milds.”

As the Crisp duo’s NYC brewery tour neared its end, Mike and Josh quickly became best friends. Their final day was a whirlwind of insightful discussions at Grimm Artisanal Ales, King County Brewers Collective, and Finback Brewing. Despite market challenges, these breweries emphasized that innovation and community remain strong and offered a hopeful outlook for the future of craft beer. It was a reminder that this trip wasn’t just about craft beer. This journey was about creating a supportive community that benefits an industry. One that brings value to everyone involved.

Josh and Mike visiting a craft brewer on their American Brewers Road Trip.

Onto Philadelphia

Mike and Josh’s journey through Philly began with a bang at ‘The Decibel Metal and Beer Fest,’ where they mingled with craft brewers and bonded over the pounding tones of heavy metal. Following this spirited kickoff, they delved into the city’s vibrant brewery scene, starting with a special visit to Yards Brewing Company.

With Josh’s 15 years of Philly living and eight years of brewing experience at Yards Brewing Co, their meeting with Head Brewer Andrew Howard was more than just a tour—it was a reunion with the brewery’s rich history. Founded 30 years ago as an “English Style” brewery, Yards has evolved while staying true to its roots, crafting classic styles like ESBs and Pale Ales alongside a diverse range of beers. Their conversation with Andrew offered a glimpse into Yards’ journey, highlighting its commitment to quality and tradition in every pint. The team also tasted a collab project that Josh had brewed with Yards Brewing a few weeks earlier. Just in time for Cinco De Mayo, a Mexican Style Lager. Using Clear Choice, Europils, and Flaked Corn. This 4.5% crisp corn lager was just what the team needed during this spring tour through the city. Andrew shared his thoughts on the collab project:

 “We were really happy with the flavor and color for this cervesa. Josh approached us about brewing a beer and we decided to brew a ‘brewer’s beer’. A clean corn lager to bring in the summer and we couldn’t have been happier with how the Clear Choice performed.”

Mike and Josh’s Philly brewery tour was a journey through tradition and innovation, visiting Dock Street Brewing, Brewery Ars, Love City Brewing, Neshaminy Creek Brewing, Other Half, and Mainstay Brewing. Each stop offered a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities in today’s market. Despite changing preferences, one thing was clear: people are still drinking a lot of beer, especially lighter, easier-drinking styles.

Josh and Mike on their American Brewers Road Trip in Philadelphia, visiting a craft brewer.

Josh helps with a collaborative craft brewing project during his American Brewers road trip.

Mike and Josh’s American Brewers road trip culminated at the 2024 Craft Brewers Conference in Las Vegas, where they were joined by Crisp teammates from the UK. The conference, hosting over 9,000 brewers, presented a prime opportunity to connect with breweries worldwide and delve into the latest industry trends and innovations.

Like every year, the CBC served as a hub for connecting, networking, and sharing knowledge with industry peers. This year was no different, offering the team a wealth of insights from brewers around the globe. They learned about the unique challenges and opportunities in our ever-changing world, gaining valuable perspectives that will shape their approach to brewing and business in the future. Josh had this to say about this year’s conference:

 “Vegas brought all the excitement you can handle. Brewers were optimistic about the rest of this year while acknowledging the challenges ahead. Production efficiency was a big topic as brewers work to optimize their equipment and processes.”

As a supplier of the finest English Malt, the Craft Brewers Conference is our team’s paramount opportunity to learn how to better serve the brewing community. By sharing ideas, discussing challenges, and collaborating, we can support each other and our communities, ensuring a strong and resilient future for all. Our journey across the US—drinking beers, making friends, and learning—has been nothing short of excellent. Crisp also owes our North American distributor, Brewers Supply Group, a huge thank you for allowing us to join them in their booth during the conference, as well as for creating a fun and inclusive atmosphere. We eagerly anticipate the opportunity to do it all over again next year!

The Crisp Malt team at the Craft Brewers Conference 2024 in Las Vegas.

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