The Brew Site

Beer Bloggers Conference, day 2

Following day 1 of the Beer Bloggers Conference, you might recall that I had, er, a bit of hangover so my morning started out slowly—but I was downstairs in time for the first of the sessions at 9:30. I will note upon reflection that day 1 seems (to me) to have had more of the convivial, party-type aspect to it (a shorter day punctuated by a lot of beer, people meeting for the first time, and of course the infamous “Night”) while the subsequent days had the more getting-down-to-business feel to them.

That first session of day 2 was a panel of industry bloggers: the folks who blog and/or manage social media for breweries. These were Michael Busman of New Belgium Brewing, Matt Van Wyk (incidentally also the brewer) of Oakshire Brewing, and Ryan Ross of Karl Strauss Brewing. Very interesting panel, getting the point-of-view from the “other side” so to speak—the folks that we (as the “citizen bloggers”) often interact with. Some good points from the panel:

The next session was “Working with Your Local Brewery”: a panel consisting of Ashley Routson (the Beer Wench and representing Bison Brewing), Bill Manly (Communication Director for Sierra Nevada), Ben Edmunds (head brewer for Breakside Brewing), and Ben Love (head brewer for Hopworks Urban Brewery and soon to start a new brewery of his own). The focus was on exactly as the title said, and was similar to the previous panel though with more of a hyper-local focus. The two Bens were dressed up in black shirts, jackets, and pants, and Ashley was dressed up as well, prompting Bill to wryly note, “Apparently I’m underdressed” during his introduction. Key points:

After a break for lunch (everyone split up to do their own thing, and we found ourselves at Cascade Barrel House which was quite good), the Conference picked back up again with the panel titled, “Lessons from Portland as a Beer and Beer Blogging City”: essentially a round table of local bloggers Ezra Johnson-Greenough from The New School, Lisa Morrison (the Beer Goddess), and Jeff Alworth from Beervana. I thoroughly enjoyed this panel as it was getting to listen to three people I’ve been following for a long time now, though I didn’t take many notes. However:

Next up was the session on Blogging About (and Changing) Beer Laws, and this was on of my favorite sessions, particularly the presentation on Mississippi beer laws by Craig Hendry of Raise Your Pints. Michelle Minton from The Competitive Enterprise Institute presented first with an overview of the crazy beer laws in various states around the country—particularly in Virginia, oh my!—and then Craig talked about Mississippi and the work he’s doing to try and get the laws changed.

The final session of the day before the live blogging session (which I blogged about here) was by Karl Ockert, formerly of BridgePort Brewing and now with the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, talking about the Beer Steward Program and their goals of coming up with a common “beer vocabulary” and their goals of (re)organizing beers and their flavors into four categories: malt-centric, hop-centric, fermentation-centric, and added-flavor-centric. It was interesting but ultimately I didn’t take many notes or come away with any real takeaways as it’s not something that’s really on my radar (for now).

After the live blogging, which was fantastic and akin to “speed dating” with breweries presenting their beer—including a highlight of Jamie Floyd presenting Ninkasi in Darth Vader costume and talking about their winter seasonal four-pack which will include an Imperial Stout named “Imperiale“—we caught buses over to enjoy a dinner generously provided by BridgePort Brewery.

BridgePort really stepped up and provided brewery tours and the dinner was excellent, along with their beer and a short talk by brewmaster Jeff Edgerton. I was particularly pleased to find Old Knucklehead Barleywine available, as well as their Porter (which according to Bill Night they aren’t bottling anymore).

Following dinner we trucked over to the McMenamins Bagdad Theater for the excellent showing of “The Love of Beer” about women in the craft beer world. Of course this was particularly good for me because it largely features Bend Brewing brewmaster Tonya Cornett (as well as Deschutes brewery Veronica Vega) so it was extremely local and awesome to see Bend highlighted.

I should mention that on our trip over to the Bagdad from BridgePort, a few of us were fortunate to have caught the (relatively new) Brewvana tour bus, which has to be a fairly unique Portland beer culture phenomenon. It holds 14 passengers and the inside ceiling is painted in a mural and strung with rope-style Christmas lights. I think riding this around on a Portland beer tour would be great fun, and it’s something I’ll have to investigate someday.

Thus ends the second day of the conference; a lot of good stuff was going on and I think everyone in attendance came away fired up for getting even more involved in the beer industry through blogging, social media, or whatever venue we represented.

Day 3 consisted of eight blogger presentations and the final keynote by Jay Wilson, and I’ll be writing about that next.