BBC 14: Day one thoughts

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BBC 14 AgendaThe 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 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.

San Diego Brewers Panel at BBC14

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.

Lagunitas Born Yesterday

All in all, a great first day! I’ll post a gallery of photos from Day One next.

Pre-BBC outing: Blind Lady Ale House

The 2014 Beer Bloggers Conference starts tomorrow (Friday), but we arrived in San Diego today—via car, after a good long day of driving. After checking in to the hotel, we headed over to the Blind Lady Ale House for dinner and a quick pre-BBC excursion (since we’d missed the other actual excursions because of the drive).

Blind Lady Ale House

The Blind Lady was established in 2009 by former Stone Brewing brewmaster Lee Chase, and focuses not only on craft beer (of course) but also on craft pizza. They additionally house a small brewhouse, Automatic Brewing, releasing unique-small batch beers like the Golden Ticket I enjoyed this evening, a strong golden ale infused with vanilla and oak.

Blind Lady Pizza

Gorgonzola and fig pizza with prosciutto added.

Automatic Brewing

Apologies for the blurry photos! I have a brand-new phone and am still tweaking settings, particularly for low-light photos.

Automatic Brewing Golden Ticket

The Blind Lady has an impressive beer list and an eclectic style that includes unfinished wood, community tables, a wall of beer cans, and several walls in one half of the bar sport a collection of older(?) skateboards, all wooden from what I could tell. Oh, and a giant Hamms beer mural and other breweriana decorating the place. Kind of a retro, throwback skater-hipster vibe by my reckoning, with lots to look at.

Even though it’s only been around five years, the Blind Lady has cemented itself as one of San Diego’s iconic beer bars and it was impressively busy for a Thursday night. They even have a doorman who stamps your hand and explains how things work if you haven’t been before (you order at the bar, find whatever (communal) seating you can, etc.). Fortunately we were able to get in, order and find a seat without too much trouble or time.

One note, however, is that you might have trouble parking as there is no lot parking next door which means you’ll need to find street parking—so you could end up walking several blocks.

The pizza was really good as were the beers—I started with a Benchmark Table Beer and finished with the Automatic Golden Ticket. Service was quick, friendly, and helpful. I would recommend a visit—particularly to any fellow conference-goers who have time this weekend!

Blind Lady Ale House
3416 Adams Ave.
San Diego, CA 92116

Gearing up for the Beer Bloggers Conference this weekend

Beer Bloggers Conference 2014The 2014 American Beer Bloggers Conference starts this week, taking place in San Diego, California, and I’m looking forward to attending! We (my wife and I) haven’t been able to attend since Portland in 2011 so I’m really looking forward to the Conference this weekend; they have a great agenda lined up and one thing I will be interested in seeing is how the Conference has progressed and matured since Portland (which was only in its second year at that time).

Here’s that agenda:

Friday, August 22, 2014

  • 12:00 PM – Registration & Opening Lunch hosted by Reyes Beverage Group
  • 1:30 PM – Trade Show
  • 3:00 PM – Conference Opening
  • 3:10 PM – Introduction by Julia Herz of the Brewers Association
  • 3:40 PM – Panel of San Diego Craft Brewers
  • 4:50 PM – Working Together: Bloggers and Beer Brands
  • 6:00 PM – Depart hotel for Karl Strauss Brewing Company
  • 9:00 PM – Evening Party with Lagunitas Brewing Company

Saturday, August 23, 2014

  • 9:30 AM – Breakout Sessions
    • Beer Blog Photography presented by Alan Kropf of Mutineer Magazine
    • Supercharging your Blogging with
  • 10:40 AM – Breakout Sessions
    • Beer Blog Videography presented by Alan Kropf of Mutineer Magazine
    • Free Beer and Other Quandaries for Beer Writing Ethics
  • 11:45 PM – Depart for lunch at Yard House (return 1:45 PM)
  • 2:00 PM – Keynote Speech – Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada
  • 2:50 PM – Advanced Social Media Strategies for Bloggers
  • 3:45 PM – Live Beer Blogging
  • 5:00 PM – Depart hotel for Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens (Liberty Station)
  • 8:00 PM – Beer Social – integrate all forms of social media with beer tasting (back at hotel)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

  • 9:30 AM – Blogger Reports – Five-Minute Reports from Eight Bloggers
  • 10:20 AM – Marketing in the Beer Industry
  • 11:25 AM – Cooperative Blogging Panel
  • 12:20 PM – Wrap-up
  • 12:30 PM – Conference Finish

There is also a Thursday pre-Conference excursion that starts at Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles (which we’ll miss), and they have added a Bottle Share event Saturday evening after the Beer Social (which should end by 11pm, at which point the Bottle Share will start).

There will be a lot of beer flowing, of course—it is the Beer Bloggers Conference after all—but there are also some really good and interesting sessions, particularly (for me) the WordPress and Ethics ones.

So, expect this blog, along with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Untappd, and more I’m sure, to be taken over by the BBC for the weekend. We should be reporting on some great topics, not to mention drinking great beers!

Bend Brewfest: Beers to try

This year’s Bend Brewfest has at least 63 breweries pouring beers (starting tomorrow!), with each brewery (and cidery) bringing at least two beers and ciders, and a number of them also bringing a specialty beer for the X-Tap. The posted beer list looks pretty great this year, and as I’ve done for other brewfests, I’m putting together a list of “must-try” beers for this year’s Bend Brewfest. This will actually consist of two lists: a general guide for folks who may not know what to taste first, and my own list of must-trys. I’m not counting the X-Tap beers because their schedule may well preclude when you can attend.

Incidentally, I count three pumpkin ales at this year’s Brewfest—three! Never mind it’s still August, I’m going to have to get them anyway.

General Guide My Picks
*Anderson Valley Summer Solstice Cream AleThis is a great cream ale and perfect summer beer
*Atlas Blackberry CiderA favorite that both beer and cider fans will enjoy
*Bend Brewing Ludwig German PilsnerGreat example of the style and perfect for summer drinking
*Burnside Brewing Lime KolschA hidden gem, refreshing, super drinkable with the perfect amount of lime
*Crux Outcast IPAA good example of the style
*Deluxe Brewing ResurrectionPre-Prohibition-style Pilsner, with a nice corn character
*Deschutes Foray Belgian IPAThis Belgian-styled IPA is eye-opening with a terrific herbal hop flavor
*GoodLife Sweet AsOne of the local favorites, you’ll want to see what the fuss is about
*Klamath Basin Backroad Vanilla PorterA slightly sweet porter than should satisfy cravings for dark beer
*Payette Brewing Outlaw IPAA nice American-style IPA from Idaho
*Sunriver Brewing Fuzztail HefeweizenDelicious cloudy hefe (as it should be)
*The Dudes’ Grandma’s Pecan BrownI’ve heard good things about this, and brown ales are tough to get right
*Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Double Latte Coffee Milk StoutA delicious stout that hits all the right marks
*The Commons Urban Farmhouse AleSimply a great example of a Saison
*10 Barrel Cider WeisseThis is a blend of their Berliner weisse with cider, of which I’ve had a taste but I want to revisit
*Ashtown Chardonnay Barrel Aged Blonde AleI haven’t had any Ashtown beers yet and this sounds intriguing
*Burnside Brewing Couch LagerI’m intrigued both by the name and the fact that it’s a lager (we don’t see enough lagers!)
*Burnside Brewing Lime KolschI simply really, really like this beer
*Columbia River Burtonian IPACurious to see if it’s a true Burton-styled beer, which should be almost sulfury with minerals
*Double Mountain Cluster Single Hop IPAVariously known as Clusterf#ck – brewed entirely with one of the older American hop varieties
*Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin AleYes, the first taste of the season of one of the best pumpkin beers out there
*Flat Tail Little GreenThis is a great blend of a “session” IPA and a saison that has no business working as well as it does. Probably my favorite Flat Tail beer
*Juniper Brewing Sippin’ Sauce SaisonI’m pretty curious about this beer from one of Redmond’s newest
*Laurelwood Berliner WeisseAt 3.4% abv, in the true fashion
*North Rim Pumpkin AleA pumpkin ale from Bend’s newest brewery! Of course I have to try it!
*Reverend Nat’s Traditional TepacheA cider-like drink made entirely from pineapple, I’ve been dying to try this since I first read about it

Hopefully this should give you at least a starting point. Enjoy!