How Jen Price is changing craft beer’s narrative—in Atlanta and beyond

Dispatches from the second annual CraftBeerCon

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Jen Price CraftBeerCon
Jen Price

Photograph by Datrick Davis

When I entered the Atlanta craft beer scene over 10 years ago, the first person I met was Jen Price. For years, Price has been a staple in the beer community, hosting educational events across Atlanta for newbies and enthusiasts. In 2020, she was weeks away from opening the Atlanta Beer Boutique—a bottle shop and community space in Glenwood Park—when Covid-19 forced her to walk away from the business. Price went back to her mission, asking herself what she wanted to accomplish by having a brick-and-mortar. What did she love about the craft beer industry?

“I kept coming back to the fact that I really like the community,” she says. “I like connecting people, and I like the camaraderie that we feel here.” That same year, Price founded Crafted for Action, an organization focused on building an inclusive beer community. At the time, the industry and the country were reckoning with the aftermath of Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd. “It became very apparent that [the craft beer industry] has a long way to go, and I knew if I hosted a conference, it would have to be something that’s really purpose-driven,” says Price.

In 2021, Price announced Crafted for Action’s signature event: CraftBeerCon. That gathering, she says, “has been on my vision board for probably eight years now. And it just always seemed like such a huge undertaking because I envisioned an in-person conference. I never thought I had the resources to do it.” With more events going virtual, the pandemic offered an opportunity.

Drawing on her experience as a project manager and city planner, and her years of hosting events in the beer community, Price started mapping out a hybrid model for the conference. “I was like, let’s just do an event every night, maybe a panel once a day, and then it grew into something bigger,” says Price. The inaugural conference in 2021 hosted 13 virtual panels and five in-person events, attracting a diverse group of attendees and panelists. For a predominantly white and male industry, 76 percent of CraftBeerCon’s panelists and presenters were BIPOC and 58 percent were women. The conference also offered a platform for everyone in the beer community—not just brewers and brewery owners, but enthusiasts, influencers, journalists, and brands—to lend their voices to the conversation.

The second annual CraftBeerCon, which took place last week, grew to 26 virtual panels and nine in-person events, leaning in part on Price’s experience attending city-planning conferences: “We’ll go to a contractor’s office or go on a bike ride to see how transportation evolved in a certain city. I wanted to bring that sort of experiential element to this conference because, in addition to loving beer, I also love the city. I think ‌Atlanta deserves to be a focal point, especially for people who are coming into town.”

CraftBeerCon
A toast at CraftBeerCon

Photograph by Datrick Davis

This year’s conference kicked off with a bottle share at Atlantucky Brewing, a Black-owned brewery in Castleberry Hill founded by Nappy Roots members Skinny Deville and Fish Scales. As a lover of food and beer pairings, my favorite event was And Now We Feast, a dinner hosted by beer journalist Ale Sharpton at Oreatha’s, chef Deborah VanTrece’s new restaurant in Cascade Heights. The dinner featured five courses, each paired with beer and a neighborhood history lesson from Erika Brayboy Collier. On Friday night, we returned to Atlantucky for Beats + Brews, where an all-women lineup of Atlanta music producers each picked a beer from Atlantucky’s menu and created beats based on its name and flavors.

Price also added a series of intensive work sessions diving deeper into topics that arose from the 2021 conference. The result of the workshops is a series of survival guides for breweries-in-planning, start-up breweries, and beer businesses with limited resources.

“When I started Crafted for Action and CraftBeerCon, I really wanted something that went beyond the few days of the conference,” Price says. “I started this conference in response to some real serious issues, and I thought, I can’t get all these smart people together and not do something with it.” The conference ended with an event called Day Camp Experience and Bottle Share, hosted by Nick Brooks, a beer and outdoors enthusiast, at the Urban Conservation Training Institute and Farm—which the Crafted for Action team transformed into a campsite with tents, hammocks, and firepits.

“This year’s CraftBeerCon was proof that Atlanta’s beer community is here and we are growing. We are brewers, consumers, owners, marketers, and influencers, and we all have a voice,” said Qiana McKoy, known as @bourgiebeergirl on Instagram and moderator of a panel on influencers that I also participated in. (Some of the events from this year’s conference are available on YouTube.)

CraftBeerCon is just the beginning for Crafted for Action—Price plans to provide more opportunities for beer lovers to gather outside of taprooms. Starting in June, Price and Brooks will host a series of workshops culminating in an overnight camping trip. “Every month from June until October, we’re going to have a class. Nick is going to teach us how to pitch a tent, how to prepare food outside, and how to pack and dress for an outdoor trip,” said Price. She’s also interested in providing experiences for beer-loving cyclists.

CraftBeerCon

Photograph by Datrick Davis

Price continues to be an influential force in the Atlanta beer industry, using her talents to connect people and foster community. “Atlanta is rewriting the script—rewriting the narrative,” says Price. It’s clear she’s part of this new narrative.

Stephanie Grant is an Atlanta-based writer and content creator. In 2020, she was a recipient of the Diversity in Beer Writing Grant from the North American Guild of Beer Writers, and was one of Imbibe’s 75 People to Watch in 2021.

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