Today marks the kick off of the annual Bend Brewfest, featuring three days of beers at Bend’s Les Schwab Amphitheater from 75 different breweries. The usual beer festival details apply:
- Entry is free, but to drink the mug and five tasting tokens is $20
- Additional tokens cost $5 for 5
- Each token is good for a four-ounce sample of beer
- The XTap features specialty, limited-production beers and cost 2 tokens per sample
- Hours are from noon to 10pm each day
- Children are welcome until 7pm
The Brewfest runs through Saturday the 20th.
Plus this week in The Bulletin, my article is on the Brewfest and highlights some of the more interesting styles of beers and ciders you’ll find this weekend!
View Day 1 here, and Day 2 here!
The last conference morning started out in a fun way. The first session was “Over a Pint – Building Community in a Creative Way” by Elle and Troika Brodsky who met at BBC11, which was our first conference in Portland, Oregon. Notes:
- Start by being inclusive;
- Own it;
- and achieve and sustain success.
They are a cute couple and I enjoyed their session. The next was a panel about Beer Tourism – The Next Big Thing. I was curious about this because I live in Bend, Oregon and our town has created beer tourism as an important economic activity (Bend Ale Trail among others) and I was curious to see how it sustains and grows within other areas. It was an interesting panel and gained incite from the other perspective (not the tourist).
Next was the not-so-secret announcement of where the Beer Bloggers Conference 2017 was going to be held! It was announced that BBC17 would be held August 3-6, 2017 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin!!! The girls from Visit Milwaukee came on out with some Milwaukee beers and a quick celebration and slideshow was had.
We had to rush out and not give some proper goodbyes because we were off to eat a quick lunch before our bus was to pick us up for the post-conference excursion to St. Pete/Clearwater‘s Craft Beer Trail.
Our first stop was at the fastest growing breweries in Florida, 3 Daughters Brewing in St. Pete. After getting everyone settled with any beverage on the menu, a tour from the owner and mom of the three daughter’s took us on a tour. What a nice facility and a nice area for families to sit and relax (and play games or listen to a band on an impressive stage within the brewery itself!). Several bloggers took advantage of the games while waiting.
The next stop was at Green Bench Brewing which we were met by the brewer who gave us a tour and history behind the name and brewery, but first… impressively dunked a basketball. We imbibed in their beverages, which could be ordered at the bar and I enjoyed Purple Rain, a cider that they make because they are also a cidery and meadery in addition to brewing beer.
Dinner was next and we split up into groups and Jon and I were in the group that went to Red Mesa Mercado, a Mexican place just up the street. Fabulous food and a horchata to try to cool myself down. Highly recommended! We finished up a bit before the other group that had gone for Asian delicacies and headed to an “unexpected” stop at Cycle Brewing.
The other group joined us and soon after, we were on the bus to the next scheduled stop at Rapp Brewing. What a neat place! Small brewery, but lots of their own beers (20!) on tap, many of which are medal winners. I ordered a sample tray and tried the Gose, Blueberry Donut Porter, Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout and my favorite, Hibiscus Saison. I joined in on a tour of the brewery by the brewer that had just finished brewing a beer and was cleaning up and showed us around.
When it was time, we were back on the bus back to Tampa and the skies put on a show for us as we were crossing the bridge back! Once we were back, once again, we had an “after party” on the patio for which great pizza was ordered, beverages were shared and lots of talking and sharing favorite parts of the day commenced. Once we were “done for the day”, we headed up to our room and thought about packing up for the day of travel in the morning.
Overall, a fantastic conference where we met lots of friends, learned a lot of information, toured established and up-and-coming breweries and had a satisfying weekend! I’m not sure if we can make it to Milwaukee in 2017, but I know we’ll try.
After day 1, we started bright and early on day 2 with two breakout sessions. I went to “Increase Your Followers and Engagement on Social Media” and “Shareworthy (and Awesome) Visual Content Creation with Little to No Budget.” I learned about how things change and you should post new content and design, review keyword research every 6 months and building relationships. You are the producer, commentator, gatherer, joiner, observer, who is understanding options and adapting for a powerful social media presence. You must know your platform, post regularly, know what time of day you post produces good returns and Facebook audience is very engaging and large. It is okay to reuse photographs for content even years later. You can still tap into new users who might not have seen your photos. Don’t overuse photos though. Use tools and analytics to boost posts necessary for marketing.
After our morning breakout sessions, we were then taken to World of Beer with a four-course meal paired with Miller-Coors beers. First course that was served was a GIANT pretzel with beer cheese sauce or a spicy mustard paired with BeerGarten Tart from Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company. Next up, a large sausage and cheese plate with a Belgian Table Pils from Blue Moon Brewing.
The main course was a pork schnitzel with a special keg of Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic (the real deal! Flown in special for us!). I’ve never had schnitzel and it was delicious! Dessert was my favorite with a pretzel bread pudding that paired with a Crispin Prickly Pear Cider. Finally, a cider poured!! It was light and refreshing! I’m glad to see cider was somewhere in the beer conference because it IS an emerging market.
Our afternoon session started shortly after we got back and it was on “Better Beer Writing” by Bob Townsend and The Beer Babe herself! With advice such as:
- Go back and read your posts.
- Read your posts out loud!
- Use Grammarly and Wordie.
Once their informative session concluded, Stan Hieronymus (the self-proclaimed accidental beer writer) gave a fascinating keynote. Use the “The Four Cs – Content, Commodities, Conversations, Connections.”
A quick break and setup of the Petrus Sour Beer tasting was underway. After a presentation, we were given a tray to pour our own beers and create our own sour! What a neat idea! Oud Bruin, Aged Pale (the Mother beer), Aged Red (my fav), and a 50/50 blend was placed on the table and you used the measured lines on the glass to formulate/blend your own personal sour!
Then, it was off to one of the favorite events! Live beer blogging, which I say is “controlled chaos” at first and then chaotic near the end as you’re trying to play catch up. For me, it was a bit chaotic from the start. Once we went to the location, we had less than five minutes to find a table, log on to the wireless with information provided and GO! There should have been more time for us to settle in (even if we were running late, it’s important to be connected at a LIVE blogging event). I felt as if I could not give proper attention and tagging to the brewery and Jon’s internet cut out half way during the session. How can you live blog and not have it update while you’re in the session?!
I was working from my phone (on my 4G) and it just didn’t feel like the last two live bloggings that I’ve attended. The brewers were fantastic with explanation and the “moving along within their five minutes”, it just needed to be “more connected” to give the “controlled chaos” the attention it deserved. Once I got into a rhythm, it felt like welcoming an old friend to the party.
We were then whisked off on several buses to our progressive dinner hosted by Visit Tampa (we were on The Brew Bus, which also has their own beers, which were sampled while driving to the next location). We were on a bus headed to Cigar City Brewing first. We were treated to some specialty beers or could visit the taproom and choose anything off the menu in exchange for our ticket that we had (I chose Trousseau). There was some food platters to enjoy as well.
We were then off to Coppertail Brewing for more small plates of food and beverage. Since I was still sipping on the Trousseau, I chose to not consume, but had a tasty plate of food. Before we left, we had a brewery tour and were whisked away to the last brewery.
I’d seen pictures of the sunset at Ulele and was kinda jealous, but by the time we got there, the setting was amazing! I was simply stuffed, but there was an array of beverages and food (oysters, pork and the BEST beer mac and cheese I’ve ever had!). We enjoyed the atmosphere immensely (I think it was our longest stop too) and it was a place where I would want to go back and enjoy the palm trees and a full sunset.
I did a whole bunch of Instagram throughout the day (of the lunch and live blogging), please take a peek.
If a full day of content wasn’t enough, many bloggers who still had it in them, had an after party on the patio of our host hotel, The Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina where more beers were shared and cigars were had.
(Apologies for a later than normal wrap-up blog post. It’s been quite the busy summer for our family!)
After having a rough start to our trip, we had a few hours of sleep and then went downstairs to the conference rooms to say hello to friends we have known from previous Beer Bloggers Conferences and introduce ourselves to new friends. We chose a table and sat down for a warm introduction from Reno Walsh (conference lead from Zephyr Adventures who puts on the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference among others). Then, Julia Herz kicked off the conference as she always does with fascinating information and stats from the Brewers Association. I always enjoy her style of speaking and the way she engages her audience, if you ever get a chance to hear her talk, GO! LISTEN! LEARN! Beer and the industry is always changing and evolving. Local is huge and homebrewing is growing!
We then learned about the Beer industry in Tampa and Florida (hint: it’s growing… rapidly!) Next, Lester Jones, the Chief Economist from the National Beer Wholesalers Association, had a talk on Beer by the Numbers. He gave much information and had a sense of humor to keep things light with all the data he provided. One huge takeaway for me is that “samples matter”, 71% will order a full size pour after they find what they like. YES. YES. YES! I always ask for a sample because it is common where I live and I decide what I will drink at that time based upon what is available and what is to my taste buds.
Changing things up after the initial kick off, we went downstairs in the Tampa Marriott Waterside hotel and were greeted in what is normally an Italian restaurant transformed to our private party from Green Flash Brewing. There were food/beverage pairings and we moved from outside to inside (i.e., heat and humidity to air conditioning) and chatted with old and new friends (still, can you see a pattern… lots of learning, but also lots of socializing/networking).
As for the food and beverage pairings, I am picky, so I had a lovely lemon fennel salad on top of a proscuitto crostini that paired with Barroque Belgique. I am not a fan of IPA, so after an initial taste, I asked for Lustrous Frumento with coffee, which was a one-off keg that was brought special for the Beer Bloggers after selling out of the initial bottle run. This is my favorite of the next few hours (and might be of the night). I also sampled some potato crudite and Jon sampled all the food with most all the beer Green Flash provided.
While we were at our pre-dinner party, we found that our conference room had been transformed from conference table and chairs to an elegant dinner reception. There were several stations around the room serving up beers from Florida (Cigar City Brewing, Funky Buddha Brewing, Coppertail Brewing, and Green Bench Brewing) along with food pairings. The best of the night for me was a breakfast sausage with hollandaise and a goat cheese cheesecake that paired with Funky Buddha’s french toast. It balanced both well and was my personal favorite of the dinner!
After filling up on food and more beverages, we were off to the Beer Social Expo, which showcased many businesses/breweries and you guessed it, more beer samples! It’s a chance to talk to the reps and try new items or revisit those you haven’t had in awhile. And did I mention swag, we weren’t going to take anything home and oops! I may have t-shirts and beach towels, etc. My favorite samples were Crooked Stave Petite Sour Raspberry and I was excited to see a bottle of Avery Brewing there (there was a bit woody character for me that lingered in Uncle Jacob’s Stout, but at a 17% beer, it was one to try!).
Now, almost being up nearly 24 hours, I was quite tired, but the can’t miss of the conference is the “Night of Many Bottles” in which everyone brings bottles from (typically) their home state/city. We brought Worthy Brewing‘s Kama Citrus IPA and Bend Brewing‘s Metolius Golden Ale in Crowlers that were purchased from The Growler Guys and shipped out before we left. They were among many, many bottles that were shared and consumed.
A few of my favorites were Wicked Weed’s Montmaretto, New Glarus Cran-Bic, Allagash Brewing Company, D9 brewing and a special bottle of Trappist Westvleteren 12. A bottle of Deschutes Brewery Abyss with Cognac was also there! Finally, we headed up to the room for some much needed sleep. Goodnight!
These just came today, a brand-new beer from Deschutes Brewery:
Hopzeit Autumn IPA, which is a cross between an Oktoberfest-styled beer and an IPA. I have not had this beer at all yet, which is somewhat surprising since in recent years Deschutes has tested a number of recipes for new releases at their pub before it makes it to bottle.
But! I’m just happy that I’m not receiving Jubelale in August, as I have in years past. Finally a fall seasonal to enjoy!