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NanoCon. Vermont streetscapes. Local businesses. It was quite a scene for my visit to the inaugural edition of this craft beer conference that’s a little bit different from anything I’ve seen before.

NanoCon - beer law - McLaughlin PC
NanoCon featured “five-barrel” or smaller breweries and their unique challenges.

Close your eyes and imagine red and yellow leaves sprinkled across a red brick street. Small shops looking inviting and friendly up and down the sidewalks. Just down the hill, is a beautiful lake with a lighthouse perfectly placed just off the shore. Mountains dotted with red and yellow trees jut up over the water in the distance.

It is cool and drizzly and the chilly air kisses your cheeks. Fresh mountain air fills your lungs and it feels like you have just stepped into a Hallmark Channel movie. This is Burlington, Vermont.

This city is like none I have ever experienced before. Yes, there were a few nationally known stores and restaurants in the downtown area, but, still, I have never seen a city take so much pride in their local businesses and trades. They make it a part of their culture; it is woven into the fabric of their city.

The picturesque backdrop of the city—and the palpable support of local business—made Burlington the perfect location for the inaugural NanoCon.

NanoCon - vendors - McLaughlinPC
NanoCon featured vendors who offer support services for tiny professional breweries.

For those of you who are unaware of the term “nanobrewery,” it is the smallest of commercial breweries. Nanobreweries are defined as those that have a five-barrel system (roughly 310 gallons) or smaller which allows for more variety of beers to be brewed on a smaller scale than even microbreweries.

Owners of nanobreweries are generally able to work full time jobs if desired and brew in the evening or on weekends as opposed to brewers in microbreweries that are needed on more of a full-time basis. Nano-brewing is the logical step for those wanting to take their hobby to the next level. These are also the types of  breweries that are best supported by local communities and not by a wide sales footprint.

NanoCon provided an educational one-stop shop for those entering this niche segment of the brewing industry. There were four learning tracks aimed at those wanting knowledge on brewery operations, start-ups, business operations, and sales and marketing.

NanoCon - Brewery Law - McLaughlinPC
Matthew McLaughlin spoke at NanoCon.

The Brewery Operations track covered everything from quality control and testing, yeast management, and recipe scaling to hopping techniques and peer-to-peer table topics. The Startup track involved financing, sizing and infrastructure, brewery law, and brewery branding.

The Business Operations track included information on brewery costs, ingredient pricing, legal mistakes, and operations audits.  Sales and Marketing helped brewers learn social media strategies, how to host special events, brewery branding and how to spur sales and loyalty via email.

When on break from these education tracks, brewers were able to talk with vendors who focus on nanobreweries. There were suppliers who covered everything from yeast and hops to equipment and risk insurance.

In addition to the planned education segments and vendors, each afternoon a craft beer reception was hosted that allowed attendees to sample local Vermont beer.

NanoCon - Burlington Vermont - McLaughlin PC
NanoCon was an excellent start to an annual event.

This conference was well crafted (pun intended) and provided a great opportunity and location for nano brewers to hone their trade. 

With nanobreweries becoming the wave of the future for craft beer, it is important for those interested in how to get started to have a community to fellowship with and bounce ideas off, as well as a place to learn a multitude of valuable information. 

NanoCon provided just that opportunity, and it was exciting to be a part of the first event.

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