Beer Bloggers Conference, day 1

The first day of the Beer Bloggers Conference kicked off roughly at noon with the registration and meet-and-greet, and (naturally) beer: Widmer’s Falconer’s IPA, and Sierra Nevada’s Tumbler Brown and Ovila Saison in particular were among the samples I tried. There was plenty of swag to be had, too: including scoring a T-shirt, mug and hop-infused cigar from Gerard from Road Trips for Beer.

The keynote by John Foyston and Fred Eckhardt (following a good introduction from Julia Herz of the Brewers Association) was outstanding, essentially a Q-and-A session allowing Fred to talk about anything and everything beer related. If you ever get the chance to hear Fred Eckhardt about beer, you should jump on it.

After the keynote Erica Shea and Stephen Valand from the Brooklyn Brew Shop talking about brewing beer—they supply one-gallon all-grain brewing kits that makes it extremely easy to learn to brew and experiment with your beer. Their overall theme was “Why beer bloggers should also be beer brewers” and overall I thought they did a really nice job presenting (even though as a homebrewer most of what they were talking about is old hat to me—preaching to the choir and all).

The late-afternoon/evening event—a trip to the hop fields in Silverton (Goschie Farms) with a dinner sponsored by the Oregon Brewers Guild—was a hit but also a bit of a miss: traveling south on Interstate 5 out of Portland during Friday rush hour traffic took about an hour and a quarter longer than it should, so we weren’t able to spend as much time on the hop farm as I would have liked (only about half the group got the tour). But the dinner was excellent and fortunately there was plenty of beer on the bus to keep everyone happy.

In fact, the beer on the bus was a well-done touch: four brewers presented their beer and poured sample for everyone: Ike Manchester from Widmer pouring Widmer’s Altbier; Jamie Emmerson from Full Sail with Session Black, LTD 03, and IPA; Jennifer from Rogue with Chatoe Rogue Single Malt Ale; and Jamie Floyd from Ninkasi with Radiant Summer Ale, Nuptiale Cream Ale, and Maiden the Shade.

The “Night of Many Beers” capped the evening, where everybody brought some representative beers from where they are from and everything was flowing freely. Great event, I got to meet and talk to quite a number of bloggers, and—yes I have to admit—I drank far, far too much. (Hey, it’s the unspoken angle on this beer blogging thing!) So day 2 started out with a hangover and dampened enthusiasm for starting out early.

It happens.

Takeaways from day 1:

  • Citizen beer bloggers are a very powerful group; the point has been reiterated that beer bloggers are the “mass media” of the beer/brewing industry.
  • Fred Eckhardt invented beer blogging. (Before “blogging” was blogging.)
  • Fred Eckhardt’s father’s recipe for homebrew: one can of PBR hopped malt extract, 10 pounds of sugar, 10 gallons of water. One teaspoon of sugar per bottle.
  • Fred considers beer blogging the third great “revolution” in beer: first was adding hops, the second was the invention of Pilsner/lagers.
  • Beer bloggers should also be beer brewers; there’s a level of beer understanding to be had from learning to brew.
  • Automated hop harvesting machines are really impressive.
  • Finally, there’s really a lot of good beer out there!
Okay, that last point is kind of obvious, but sometimes it just need to be reiterated!