How can U.S. craft breweries benefit from increased trade with Canadian ingredient and equipment suppliers?
That’s the question at the core of the first-ever craft brewing trade mission being organized by the Minneapolis office of the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service.
The two-day mission (with an optional third day) will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia, and consist of panel discussions and networking opportunities aimed at opening dialogue between the U.S. and Canadian craft brewing industries.
Day one kicks off with a panel discussion where Canadian suppliers will be able to hear from U.S. brewers about their needs in the areas of brewing ingredients, equipment, marketing, packaging, trends in U.S. beer styles and consumption, and common challenges they face. Other activities include “speed dating” sessions where brewers and suppliers will meet one-on-one for 10 or 20 minutes at a time to discuss their own individual business needs, and an agricultural showcase focused on Canadian grain and hop suppliers.
The optional third day consists of a trip to the BC Hop Fest to visit hop producers in Abbotsford, BC, and network with 15 local craft breweries while sampling their fresh-hop beers.
Christina Connelly is a Canadian trade commissioner based in Minneapolis and is one of the organizers of the mission. Though sales of packaged beer exchanged between the two countries is well documented, she said there’s not a lot of hard data on the current level of ingredient and equipment trade between the North American neighbors. Canada is home to some large-scale malting operations, such as the largest supplier to Canadian breweries, Canada Malting, and several U.S. companies like BSG Craftbrewing have plants in Canada. British Columbia, where the mission is taking place, lies just north of Washington’s Yakima Valley and is home to a growing community of hop growers.
Connelly said that as U.S. brewers seek out new flavors for their beers, she hopes they’ll begin thinking of their neighbors to the north along with more traditional locales like Europe. “There’s an opportunity to create unique beers using Canadian ingredients they can’t get elsewhere,” she says, citing Summit’s Hopvale Organic Ale as an example, which utilizes organic Canadian caramel malt.
The mission is scheduled for October 1–3, and Connelly says they’re still looking for U.S. brewers to come. Interested parties can contact Connelly at [email protected] for more information.