Many people tend to overlook the month of November as just a stepping stone before the holidays. However, it’s my favorite month of the year! That’s because, on the first Thursday of November, Briess hosts the Annual Grower Appreciation Dinner in Powell, WY. Our 300+ family of barley growers are invited to a night of excellent food, great beer, and fantastic conversation! This year we had our best turnout yet with over 400 people attending. Our growers are from the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming and Montana, where warm days and cool nights provide some of the highest-quality malting barley in the world.
Judy Gillett, Briess’ Grower Relationship Manager, kicked off the night by welcoming and thanking everyone for coming. CEO Craig Briess was next and thanked the growers for being a part of the Briess family and choosing to grow for us. This year, for the first time, we had members of Briess’ technical team make the journey out to Wyoming, including Betsy Roberts, Director of the Center of Malting Excellence, and Jordon Geurts, Technical Maltster. They helped serve beers all night, because who could be better to talk about the beers the grower’s barley goes into than the technical team from Manitowoc who turns their barley into malt!
A tradition at this meeting is inviting one of our customers to talk to the group about how the high-quality barley they grow in turn makes great craft beer. This year we were excited the VP of Brewery Operations at Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Alec Mull agreed to join us. Alec’s speech was highly engaging, and he commended the growers for their hard work and expertise, after touring a few of their operations earlier that day. Alec also noted the growers are committed to taking the time and care to raise the next generation of growers. 😊
We had a wonderful meal provided by Dunn Been Smoked (great name!), who in my opinion makes some of the finest smoked meat around. Everyone got their fill of tasty food along with a wide variety of craft beers and cake. Every year we get help from the Block & Bridle Club, a volunteer group of local college students in the Ag program, who help set up, serve food, and tear down. Briess donates back to the Block & Bridle Club to support students and programs that are passionate about agriculture. We then closed out the dinner with a raffle where guests put tickets in for an array of giveaway items, including a Blackstone Grill, TV, Homebrew Kits, Wisconsin Cheese baskets, and much more. Each guest gets sent home with a gift bag of Briess swag and a six-pack of assorted craft beer to cap off the night.
I count myself lucky to be part of this great event to help celebrate another successful growing season! I’m already looking forward to the 10th Annual Grower Dinner in 2023!