The National Restaurant Association's 2010 International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event, May 23-24 at Chicago's McCormick Place, will feature emerging wine, spirits and beer producers from around the world and exclusive food-alcohol pairing stations. IWSB attendees also will find expert-led, educational sessions that guide restaurateurs and bar managers to success from the alcohol producer to the restaurant guest.
One of these sessions will address the evolving American beer scene and how it will affect restaurant service. Brewers Association director Paul Gatza and Craft Beer Institute president Ray Daniels will show restaurateurs how to capitalize on the revitalized interest in local and craft beer in their presentation, "Upgrading the Quality of Your Beer Service." The segment will show operators how to build beer sales through more knowledgeable servers, higher quality draft standards and engaging presentations.
Each attendee, Gatza said, will receive a copy of the Draught Beer Quality Manual. The manual was developed between 2007 and 2009 by a working group of large (macro) brewers, foreign brewers and American craft brewers. The manual is about 70 pages in length and covers topic areas of draught system design, balancing, maintenance and cleaning, glassware and glassware handling, and serving, "like how much of a foam collar should be on a glass of beer," Gatza said.
 
Besides draught beer quality, the presentation will address other aspects of optimal beer service practices, including sales trends of domestic non-craft, import and craft selections; the importance of craft to on-premise sales; and where craft growth is coming from.
 
The public's interest in craft beer has skyrocketed lately, even as "macrobrewers" -- big-name beer labels with internationally known brands -- have lost market share in the last couple of years. Many macrobrewers' numbers are down. MillerCoors, purveyor of Miller Light and Coors Light, for example, posted negative Q4 2009 numbers.
 
Indeed, the thirst for local food has spilled over into the beverage area. Restaurant owners are finding that stocking the same old Miller, Bud and Coors offerings isn't enough anymore, and that their customers have pointed questions about beer selections.
 
Harry Schuhmacher, publisher of premier trade publication Beer Business Daily, outlined the growing importance of craft beer in his predictions for 2009, which he affirmed had come true in his Dec. 15, 2009 industry newsletter:
Smaller regional crafts will continue to see double digit growth and will weather the economy better, particularly with young adults, than the large imports as crafts are local, ‘organic,' and hip. Big imports will continue to get pummeled by the falling dollar and weak demand.
IWSB will be held May 23-24, in conjunction with the Association's 2010 Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, and is the restaurant and hospitality industry's only forum focused exclusively on operator beverage alcohol-related needs. IWSB attendees who are responsible for alcohol decision making also will receive admission to the NRA Show floor included in their fee. Early attendee registration fees for the IWSB and NRA Show is $95 through April 16, $135 after. IWSB registration fee for NRA members is $55.

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