It's easy to overlook most conferences and trade shows that pass through the Washington State Convention & Trade Center. It's not that the National Academy of Osseointegration or the Washington State Medical Oncology Society aren't worthy groups, but few of us feel the urge to join in their get-togethers. But beer is another matter entirely. The Convention Center's halls will be metaphorically overflowing with beer Tuesday, April 11–Friday, April 14. Not just beer, but small-production premium beer. The Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America bring together 1,500 brewing professionals; they'll confab and consult on all manner of beer making, drinking, and marketing. Now brewing, even craft brewing, is a business, and BrewExpo America offers a venue for people in the trade (and people in the trade only) to rub elbows with their peers and talk shop. But unlike the attendees of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacies' annual meeting, those 1,500 brewpersons will be fanning out into the community. They'll be at special events staged just for them and in the brewpubs and ale houses the natives frequent. The conference gives visibility to its host city. Pro brewers get to visit local breweries, taste local beers, and experience local beer culture, something Seattle is well equipped to provide with its brewpubs and ale houses. This year's conference also includes the World Beer Cup (WBC). This year's competition is billed as the largest WBC ever, with 2,275 beers from 539 breweries in 55 countries, to be judged by 111 judges from 19 countries. The WBC is equal opportunity. Not all brewers are equal in size or reach, but at the WBC, all of them compete on an equal, blind-tasting basis. The tastings take place Monday, April 10–Tuesday, April 11, with a reception, awards ceremony, and (for those lucky enough to have made their reservations, because it's sold out) awards dinner on Friday, April 14. These brewfolk sure know how to live, don't they? After a working day of seminars, conferences, and deal making, a bunch of pro brewers are going to be turned loose on Emeraldville, and these aren't people who will go for a quiet expense- account dinner. That's where we, the proud beer buffs of the Great Northwest, come in. By 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, there will be a tent set up outside the Elysian Brewing Co. on Capitol Hill (1221 E. Pike St., 206-860-1920, www.elysianbrewing.com). Admittance to that tent will require conference credentials. So? Go hang at the Elysian anyway—there will be plenty of spillover. There might be opportunities to rub elbows with those for whom beer is as much a passion as a means of making a living. The Pike Pub (1415 First Ave., 206-622-6044), too, will be there for those who like to party. The Celebrator Beer News and the Pike will host the Battle of the Brewery Bands at 8 p.m. Tues., April 11. Celebrator (www.celebrator.com) publisher Tom Dalldorf will front the Rolling Boil Blues Band at the Pike at 6 p.m. Thurs., April 13. There's no cover for either night. There will also be open-to-all food-and- beer-pairing dinners. Four of them, unfortunately, are on the same night, Mon., April 10. The Elysian TangleTown (2106 N. 55th St., 206-547-5929, www.elysianbrewing.com/Tangletown.html) will feature Belgian and Belgian-style stars Ommegang, Duvel, and Rodenbach; Crow (823 Fifth Ave. N., 206-283-8800) will showcase Sierra Nevada ales in a five-course pairing; the Hilltop Ale House (2129 Queen Anne Ave. N., 206-285-3877, www.seattlealehouses.com/hilltop) will do a five-course dinner with Alaskan Ales—Smoked Porter with dessert!; and Matt's in the Market (94 Pike St., Suite 32, 206-467-7909, www.mattsinthemarket.com) will do an Elysian dinner, which makes sense, doesn't it, because the TangleTown will be otherwise occupied. On Tues., April 11, the Latona (6423 Latona Ave. N.E., 206-525-2238) is doing a dinner featuring Allagash and Dogfish Head's Belgian-style specialty brews. Wed., April 12, is the first of two beer dinners at Union (1400 First Ave., 206-838-8000, www.unionseattle.com), a seven-course dinner paired with the Belgian-style delights of Quebec's Unibroue range. For exclusivity, it would help to be on Ethan Stowell's or Beverage Bistro's A-list, as Union has an eight-course dinner planned for 7 p.m. Thurs., April 13, featuring five beers and four wines. I've gotten word that a few spaces might be available at $95 per person; contact Keith Johnsen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bonus: Meet the master of beer writing, Michael Jackson, who will be signing copies of his Great Beers of Belgium after dinner. Don't wanna splash out for fancy dinners? OK, head up to the nearly new Feierabend German-style pub (422 Yale Ave. N., 206-340-2528) on Wednesday, April 12. Fans of German wheat beers know that Schneider Weisse is a classic example of the style, and Schneider's head brewer, Hans Peter Drexler, will be on hand with beer rep Ed Carfora from 5 to 8 p.m. Fans of Northwest-style hop-monster ales can head up to Cooper's Alehouse (8065 Lake City Way N.E., 206-522-2923), where owner Kirbie Predmore will host an IPA festival Mon., April 10–Sun., April 23. Of course, don't forget all those great venues for hosting out-of-town beer drinkers— places like Brouwer's (400 N. 35th, 206- 267-2437, www.brouwerscafe.com), the Stumbling Monk (1635 E. Olive Way, 206- 860-0916), the Beveridge Place Pub (6451 California Ave. S.W., 206-932-9906, www.bereridgeplacepub.com), and more. email@example.com
Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America and the Brewers Association World Beer Cup Washington State Convention & Trade Center, Seventh Avenue and Pike Street, www.beertown.org. DOWNTOWN. Tues., April 11–Fri., April 14.