Craft beverage summit to focus on relationship between growers, bottlers

The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University, Brilliant Stream and the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition announce the latest in a series of statewide events to support and expand the burgeoning craft beverage industry in West Virginia.

The number of craft beverage producers in West Virginia has tripled since 2014, with at least three new breweries and four new distilleries scheduled to open this year, according to BrilliantStream.com, which tracks the industry in the Mountain State.

Craft: A Farm to Bottle Summit will convene April 20 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The virtual gathering will focus on the symbiotic relationship between growers and craft beverage makers, with a special emphasis on helping famers better understand the specific needs of the craft beverage industry, said Bill Woodrum, director of Entrepreneurship and Agricultural Innovations at RCBI.

“This latest Craft event will provide answers to many of the questions that existing suppliers and farmers who are considering growing for the craft beverage market have about the industry,” Woodrum said. “For example: ‘What crops are bottlers looking for? How does a grower become part of the supply chain? What should you consider when creating contracts? Is it OK to provide crops that are not visually appealing, those that are considered seconds or even thirds?’”

The event will conclude with a Pour It Forward happy hour from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Participants are encouraged to grab a glass of their favorite West Virginia craft beverage for an informal networking session with other like-minded people, Woodrum said.

To register for the free event, visit www.rcbi.org/craft4. Craft is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. For more information about Craft or any of RCBI’s agricultural initiatives, contact Woodrum at or 304.781.1670.

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