The first day of the 2014 Beer Bloggers Conference is behind us, and it was as expected: met interesting new people, great sessions (particularly the San Diego brewers panel), and of course there was lots (and lots!) of beer.
We started the day with an excursion into downtown San Diego with Tiffany Adamowski to the Best Damn Beer Shop. I don’t know if it was the best ever, but it was pretty impressive and I scored a bunch of beer that I can’t get at home.
The conference kicked off with registration, lunch, and beer, sponsored by Reyes Beverage Group spotlighting a half-dozen local breweries. Great beers, but I need to highlight the Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Stout and Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin as particularly memorable. (I’ve also picked up some bottles of those to bring home.)
The official opening was introduced by the always-energizing Julia Herz of CraftBeer.com. Two big takeaways (and food for thought) from Julia:
- There are 3,090 breweries in the US today, with 1,900 more in planning
- The question was asked—how many breweries could YOUR state handle if it was a per-capita number like Oregon? (Yay, home state!) For California, that number is about 1300(!!)
The San Diego Brewers panel was an all-star lineup of some of the best-known brewers in the region and the industry: Tomme Arthur from The Lost Abbey, Chuck Silva from Green Flash Brewing Company and Peter Zien from AleSmith Brewing. They discussed the history of San Diego brewing: starting with the homebrewers, Karl Strauss Brewing (the first brewpub in SD since Prohibition), White Labs yeast cultures, Stone Brewing and the “start” of SD brewing in 1996 (good-natured joking), and more.
I did particularly enjoy Peter Zien’s story about trying to get a bum to buy him Spaten beer when was underage.
The Bloggers and Beer Brands panel was interesting from an engagement point of view, though I think there’s a line you need to be aware of when “flirting” with beer brands.
Dinner was hosted by Karl Strauss Brewing, at their brewery and tasting room on Santa Fe Avenue, with a street tacos theme—and free beer (with for-purchase beer available inside the tasting room). CEO Chris Cramer also took the mic to talk about the history of Karl Strauss, which was particularly enlightening as we learned that Karl Strauss is basically the Deschutes Brewery of San Diego—the oldest and first craft brewery, which helped launch the current scene and many of the brewers around the area started there. Very cool to compare since I just finished writing a book about Deschutes and the Bend beer scene.
The Lagunitas afterparty was great as well, giving us pours of some great vintage Lagunitas beers. We also learned that Lagunitas will be releasing their “Born Yesterday” fresh hop ale this year that will hit the market within 24 hours(!) of being brewed—ambitious to a new level, really. Looking forward to that.
All in all, a great first day! I’ll post a gallery of photos from Day One next.