Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director at the Brewers Association, will be opening the 2017 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference with her typical high energy, fact-filled presentation about craft beer and the beer media. We are honored to have Julia join us once more and pleased she took even more time from her schedule to answer a few questions for us.
You have opened every Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference since the first one back in 2010 in Boulder. Why have you made it a priority to attend and speak to attendees of the conference?
The experience has brought me back each time. As well, each conference has been in a different beer market and thus both the attendees and breweries are always different.
Do you find it difficult to come up with your talk each year, given your audience typically has many people who have come to hear you speak before?
There is ALWAYS something new to share with beer bloggers. I know, being one, that we are a thirsty group. We’re thirsty not just for beer but for new information, new data, new contacts, new story ideas, new angles and new ways to get to know beer. Since the Brewers Association surveys all U.S. breweries each year we always have new and updated data and trends to share.
Your actual title at the Brewers Association is “Craft Beer Program Director.” Can you tell us a little more about what that actually means?
As Craft Beer Program Director I am fortunate enough to do a multitude of things on behalf of promoting and protecting small and independent craft brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. I am Publisher and a contributor to two of our amazing websites BrewersAssociation.org and CraftBeer.com that have amazing editors and designers getting it done day in and day out. I also write for The New Brewer Magazine (which is the journal of the Brewers Association). I speak to a lot of media and brewers and do all I can to provide information comment and perspective. Since the BA is a brewery driven and run organization I get to work with various brewer committees of amazing brewers who volunteer their time to advance beer. Beyond the program the Brewers Association and my co-workers do so much to support the brewery members and the craft brewing movement. It ever amazes me. We work on safety of brewers, quality of beer, sustainability of breweries, advancing homebrewing and beer pairing. We support 50 state brewers guilds. We are working to support the Smithsonian’s efforts to documenting U.S. brewing history 1960 to today. Our Government Affairs work is broad and deep and we have made so much progress for brewers it is staggering. Everything from their ability to still donate their spent grain to year after year working to re-calibrate the Federal Excise tax. We have very advanced six figure grant programs for research in brewing. We support raw materials and ingredient research and also work to ensure the supply is in tune with brewers needs. Our world class events team puts on amazing events that advance the entire beverage market including the Great American Beer Festival & Competition along with the Craft Brewers Conference, The World Beer Cup and The National Homebrew Competition and more. The list goes on and on and at the BA, our craft beer program work is just one piece of the very amazing effort.
We realize you provide talks to groups all year long, all across the country. What are some of the more interesting or unusual groups you have talked to?
I get to do a lot of presenting at conferences, beer festivals and beer dinners. When I present, no matter the audience of beer lover, retailers, wholesalers or media I always try to work in both both the business of beer and the beauty of beer (aka the sensory side). I love not only watching and working on advancing the U.S. beer culture and business, but also talking and tasting beer along with pairing.
Would you rather have a conversation about craft beer with a novice who is just being exposed or with a fan who can discuss all the details? (No fair answering both.)
Oy vey! You are a tough interviewer. Both. Sorry. Now you judge me don’t you?
Ha! Never. Now, on a personal level, when you are not working or drinking beer, what do you like to do for fun while at home in Boulder, Colorado?
Hike, run, walk with my dog, kids and husband. Swim in the river, mountain bike, camp. You name it. Colorado is one of the Promise Lands and every day I try to take in a little more.
Don’t miss Julia’s opening presentation on August 4th, 11:10am at The Best Place Milwaukee!