For three days this past August, over 300 people gathered at The LINE Hotel in Los Angeles to attend the third annual BevCon, an industry conference for beverage professionals.
Newly relocated to sunny L.A., the first two conventions were held in Charleston, South Carolina, before moving to the West Coast.
BevCon allowed beer, wine, coffee, and spirits enthusiasts to get together, network, and learn more about their craft. Professional bartenders, sommeliers, buyers, beverage makers, distributors, importers, media, marketing and public relations professionals, educators, and other related companies got together to learn from one another, share resources, and become inspired to grow their respected businesses.
“Our transition from Charleston to Los Angeles has been nothing short of an incredible experience. When we started this event three years ago, we did so with the goal of creating an industry driven event that not only covered all realms of the beverage world, but also was accessible to everyone.”
– Angel Postell, BevCon Founder and Owner of Sipindipity
The convention’s opening session focused on collaborations without borders, when FEW Spirits founder Paul Hletko recalled a failed collaboration with rock band Flaming Lips and poured samples of his FEW Breakfast Whiskey, which was finished in maple syrup barrels, as well as a sample of a recent collaboration with Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea.
The opportunity to interact and collaborate with like-minded professionals is not lost on Hletko.
“As a distiller, most of the places I go to are full of other distillers or bar folks. The opportunity to be with wine, tea, coffee, and beer people is a great opportunity to connect and build relationships.”
– Paul Hletko, FEW Spirits Founder
Other panel highlights included sessions on draft cocktails and how they can alleviate issues with cocktail consistency while proving to be cost-effective. Another learning session focused on addressing and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. The “Gin Methodology: Single versus Multi-shot” and “Open Up: Making the Case for Aperitif Service” sessions also proved to be very interesting.
During a keynote address, Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey (who also owns Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado) praised the food and beverage industry and stressed the need to be modest.
“There’s no way you can be great in this industry unless you’re humble. You need to have humility to learn, to take advice, and to grow. We can start moving toward excellence today by being humble, editing out the extraneous, and seeking outside influences for ourselves.”
– Bobby Stuckey, Master Sommelier
Other seminar highlights focused on rum and the world of sugarcane distillates, mezcal mechanics and the role of the still, the wines of Baja, and the influence of hip-hop on the wine and spirits industry, and also posed the question if sake can be the key to a healthier bottom line.
Pop-up bars around town kept it fun and interesting for visitors, and tasting sessions proved noteworthy for anyone looking to taste new beer, wine, or spirits.
BevCon also donated to Home Team Angels, which provides financial scholarships for those aspiring to grow their business or career, or assist those facing hardships as a result of natural disasters or other unforeseen adversities.
While the imbibing started early in the morning and lasted all day and well into the evening, it was an energetic and focused three days on the craft and inner workings of the spirits industry.