Bar Convent Berlin 2014 in review

The Bar Convent Berlin is over for another year. Our English Social Media Manager at the event, Andrew Wilkin, looks at the highlights of the annual showcase for the beverage industry.
Big doesn’t always mean better. But here’s an exception: our beloved Bar Convent. Eight years down the line, the Bar Convent of 2014 is a veritable juggernaut, one that shows no signs of stalling. The stats show it all. Over 9,400 visitors piled into Gleisdreieck’s Station over the two days, up from 7,612 last year.
There’s the introduction of the cavernous Halle 4, packed with exhibitors and our very own Mixology Lounge. And lest we forget, the MIXOLOGY MARKET, introduced this year to complement The MIXOLOGY BAR AWARDS as the official kickoff event for the BCB.
Twelve Days of Christmas? Anybody even slightly inclined towards the drinks industry, from a bartender to an exhibitor to a mere aficionado, would agree that it’s the three (two to be official!) days of BCB that’s worth making a fuss over.
Beyond the stats
Point made. The Bar Convent is a sizeable entity these days. Yet, among the harangue of the beverage industry’s annual Hauptstadt hoo-hah, there’s nestled many moments within that give BCB its distinguishable verve.
First up, this years guest country, the USA. Bar USA was the first port of call for all new arrivals, being at the entrance, boasting guest bartenders Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Naren Young and Joaquin Simo, and a mixture of traditional whiskey’s like bourbon and rye, but also craft beers selected by the Berlin Beer Academy – a nod to the increasing relevance of craft beer.
On the subject of the good stuff, it had a BCB to remember, from Sylvia Kopp’s panel on American Craft Beers to the Day 1 talk on ‘The State of Brewing in Germany and Abroad’ from Greg Koch, Georg Schneider and Jeff Maisel. “Gib mir craft” was a slogan oft utilised by the Brew Berlin team at the event. They premeditated correctly – 2014 was the year the Bar Convent went craft-crazy.
Still, the traditional spirits stayed forefront, with the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, representing 70% of U.S. liquor producers and distributors, making an appearance as well.

Highlights galore
What were the highlights of all the sections then? A quick footnote first – this is just a mere taster of what was on offer! The Taste Forums were as always a sizeable draw – Ian Burrell’s rum showcase on Day 1 being a notable crowd-puller. A sizeable contingent from Japan (from ‘Shokokai Japan’) arrived to expertly showcase sake and shochu in Halle 7.
Then, there was our very own Mixology Lounge, which included a drinks masterclass from Made-in-GSA winner André Pintz and the ‘Das Labor’ showcase from Arnd Henning Heissen and Atalay Aktas.
Let’s not forget the Shop Stage, acting as a great last-minute pitstop for those who want to take something home with them – not just liquor, but equipment and related literature too. The launch of Cocktailian, after the crowd-funding campaign, was something that wouldn’t be forgotten.
There’s still time for one more – the arrival of the one and only Ron Jeremy! BCB has its fair amount of glitz – the beverage industry being one that’s never unafraid of bluster – but this was one event that really got people talking.
Onto 2015!
Some may argue the size brings difficulties, a claim with some credence – it’s undeniably a hectic event, the crowds on Day One in particular were to be reckoned with. Yet, apart from delays on Day 1, with some complaints of waits of up to an hour to get in at kickoff time, this was one smooth oiled machine.
The food, organised by the guys at Chicago Williams BBQ – straight off their ‘Bartenders Choice’ award at the Awards no less – amongst others, was also top-notch, with no shortages like those that afflicted the 2013 event. Time to put the dates in your diary for next year: 6th & 7th October 2015! Who knows what superlatives Bar Convent Berlin 2015 will afford?


Foto: Bar Convent via Tim Klöcker

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