BBC 2016: Travel Woes

As I’m writing this, we’re 34,000 feet in the air and not on the original flight we were supposed to be on. Travel for us has been, let’s say, challenging.

We started out with smooth sails on Thursday morning through the Redmond, Oregon airport and as we were about to board the plane, there seemed to be a problem from the previous flight that had just came in. A lavatory problem. They boarded us on the plane and while we sat for a few minutes listening to “we have a maintenance issue we’re trying to work on” to disclosing just what that maintenance issue was and then finally de-boarding us for a potty break and let us back on the plane.

By the time we got back on, pretty much everyone had lost their connecting flights—including us. (We were supposed to fly to Phoenix and then to Tampa.) Knowing there was ONE flight left EIGHT hours from the time we arrived, the only thing we could do was to get to know the American Airlines terminal in Phoenix really well.

BBC 16: Phoenix airport sunset

A red eye flight got us in at 6:30am Friday morning with an arrival time in my bed at the hotel at 7:11am (I checked as I fell into bed). The check in to the 7th Beer Bloggers Conference in Tampa, Florida started at 11am and the conference itself began at 1pm.

The conference itself was another whirlwind learning adventure and a ton of fun filled with lots of notes and pictures that might take a bit for me to go through and assemble coherent thoughts about, because of a lack of sleep initially (I can’t sleep on a plane) and a messed up connection and travel plans at this moment.

That brings me to writing this on the flight home, which is not our original flight (see a trend here this trip?!). When we booked flights, we chose to have a bit of a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina instead of running quickly through the airport.

BBC 16: Airport drinks with Deschutes and Devils Backbone

(To be fair, we were still in Tampa when this was taken. We were still in good moods.)

That decision months ago and “mother nature” created what came next. We were diverted around a storm on the flight in from Tampa. And of course within that 90 minutes in the airport terminal waiting for the next flight, that storm (or another) moved over the Charlotte airport as we were there (come on, give us a break!), creating delays because the airport went from yellow to RED (ie, now CLOSED) just as we got to our gate (about 15 minutes from boarding).

BBC 16: Charlotte thunder cloudsWe had 90 minutes originally between flights in Phoenix to get back to Redmond and I just knew we should have a backup plan, because some internet searches had the next flight to Redmond from Phoenix… get this… 24 hours later!!! A nice gate agent helped me plan an alternative possibility: change the flight to Portland, Oregon with a connection to Redmond, and I said that was okay because if we missed the Redmond flight we had an alternative with renting a car (roughly a three-hour drive home).

A short while later we thought that was the right decision and they helped us change flights to Portland. We went to the gate and kept seeing departure times go later and later (turns out the pilot wasn’t there… he was diverted from his flight in to Columbia, South Carolina since airport here was closed) and finally, we left about two hours late. We will be just barely missing the Portland to Redmond flight and will have to drive home late late at night.

Edited after plane ride: We missed the last flight out of Portland to Redmond by 30 minutes and had more issues trying to rent a car by walking up to the counter. After calling our kids as we touched ground in Portland telling them we’d be there soon, frustration set in after “no, no cars,” “no, no cars,” “no, we don’t do one-ways,” and a last “no, no cars” and a call was nearly placed to another beer writer to sleep on their couch. When we went out to try to find if anyone else might have cars off site, a lady from Avis took pity on us and helped us out! She “found” a car, even though they don’t do one-ways. After an expensive charge for 150 miles and three-ish hours, we were finally on our way back to Bend!

After a long, dark ride home trying to keep each other awake (mostly me talking to Jon so he didn’t fall asleep driving), we picked up my car and dropped off the rental at the Redmond airport at 1:30am and by 2:05am we were in our house with a 2:15am “ahhhh” in our beds—with a 6:30am “back to reality” wake up call. Phew!

Fantastic conference. Iffy travel.

If we don’t get posts out of our experience right away, we are playing catch up and will be out with our tales and what we learned soon.

BBC 16 Live Beer Blogging

We are smack in the middle of the annual Beer Bloggers Conference and while most thoughts will be recorded later, it is time for the signature “live beer blogging” event — “You will taste ten beers from ten breweries in 50 minutes, each of whom has five minutes to pour and explain their beer while you taste, judge, and write your views on your social media or blog – live!”

I’ve live-blogged this at the previous two conferences attended, so here we go again! I’ll be writing, updating, writing, updating. And tasting beer of course. Also follow the Instagram feed for the imagery as well.

Saltwater Brewery, Screamin’ Reels IPA: All of their beer is ocean-themed. Columbus and Summit hops, 7% abv and 75 IBUs. Hoppy, a bit of a piney hop character, sweet malts. Nice American IPA with a bit of malt-forward characters.

St. Pete Brewing, McCracken Scottish Ale, 5.5% abv and 14 IBUs. Nicely clear amber brown. Great nose, malty sweet with a hint of leather and roast. Same for flavor—malty, finishes a touch dry, good roast and brown malt levels.

Crooked Thumb Brewery, Florida Grapefruit Gose. White grapefruit peel, used on hot side in the boil and during fermentation. Crackery nose, thin, slightly sweaty citrus peel. Super light bodied, a bitter(ish) sea salt character along with the lacto prickling the side of the tongue. Tart character is a bit herbal (from the grapefruit peels?).

Terrapin Beer Company, Watermelon Gose. 4.3% abv and 7 IBUs. Another gose! Terrapin’s “first tart beer without training wheels.” Watermelon rind all up in the aroma, earthy and fresh. The flavor is exactly the amount of salt I want to taste, and the fresh, fresh watermelon character reminds me of pickled watermelon rind. This one is a winner!

Cigar City Brewing, Decoherence. 12.8% abv. Imperial porter in bourbon barrels, 50% — imperial stout in brandy barrels make up the other 50%, with coconut and coffee. Boozy, chocolate, almond, coconut, like an Almond Joy candy bar in a glass with a generous boozy bourbon character. Coffee comes out in a sweet Turkish style. This is an amazing beer.

Update: Lack of wi-fi connectivity basically dropped the last half of the event, so I was unable to finish live at the time. So most of what I’ve added below is after the fact (sad trombone).

Sierra Nevada Brewing, Otra Vez. 4.5% abv and 4 IBUs. Third gose! This style might be catching on. I’ve had this before, it’s a good example of the (American) style, salty and lighter than the Watermelon Gose we just had but crisp and a great hot weather drinker.

JDUB’s Brewing, Bell Cow Milk Chocolate Porter. Punctuated by the brewer/owner wearing a cow costume, complete with udders that people felt compelled to squeeze. The beer itself is tasty, chocolatey, mellow, and desserty. (“Strong” descriptors, I know.) More of a brown ale than a porter to my taste, but fantastic milk chocolate aroma with the dessert chaser.

New Belgium Brewing, Citradelic IPA. I’ve had this before, and it’s just as good once again. Orange and clear in appearance, with a beautiful orange cream candy nose. It’s bitter up front without astringency, and a lightly puckery orange peel character.

Lagunitas Brewing, IPA. Honestly I was disappointed with this pick, as I think I just read somewhere that Lagunitas IPA is the top-selling IPA in the country and after following many of the special beers today, just bringing your IPA just seems odd. The rep claimed this beer is brewed with 43 hops and 65 malts… really. (I have very strong doubts about this myself.) It’s fine as an IPA, many people like it, citrusy hops with a mild bitterness.

Florida Beer Company, Florida Lager. This was a good finish for me, a clean, grainy lager that reminded me of a Pre-Prohibition style. Amber-orange and clear as crystal. Aroma is full of malts that aren’t-but-are corny, along with an older (Old World?) hop character. In taste it’s grainy and sweet, and definitely reminds me of a Pre-Pro lager. Drinkable and good for hot weather.

Social media feeds and the Beer Bloggers Conference

We’re gearing up to head out to the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference in Tampa and in addition to following along here on the blog, I wanted to make sure I had a current list of social media feeds you might want to follow for all of the good stuff!

And if you’re interested you can also follow along the conference overall on Twitter and Instagram, just search #BBC16 on Twitter, and #bbc16 on Instagram.

The Session #113: Mass Observation

The SessionThis month’s edition of The Session is hosted by Boak & Bailey and they asked us to engage in a little bit of research study (Mass Observation):

In the late 1930s a team of social researchers descended on Lancashire and spent several years observing the people of Bolton and Blackpool as they went about their daily lives. As part of that, in 1937 and 1938, they made a special study of pubs, which led to the publication of one of our favourite books of all time, The Pub and The People, in 1943.

What we want people to do for The Session is to recreate this exercise in 2016: take a notebook to a pub or bar — any one you fancy — and write a note of what you observe.

  • How many people are drinking?
  • Which beers are on tap, and which are people actually drinking?
  • What are they eating?
  • How are they passing the time?
  • What are the topics of conversation?
  • How is the pub decorated?
  • How many TVs are there and what are they showing?
  • Are there pot plants, parrots, spittoons?
  • How many smokers are there? And vapers?
  • Is there a dartboard, pool table or quiz machine, and are they in use?

I have to confess I didn’t do my homework on this one—as in, sitting in a bar with notebook, observing and writing. (It’s also Sunday as I write this, so my timing is off as well.) But yesterday (Saturday) I did spend a small amount of time in Deschutes Brewery‘s Bend pub, drinking their latest anniversary beer, and I can offer a few answers to those questions:

  • A lot. All of them.
  • The taplist looked something like this. Judging by the array of colors, people were drinking quite a variety.
  • Burgers, salads. Possibly house-made tater tots.
  • Many who were not engaged in conversation were watching the Germany vs. Italy soccer game on television, with lots of cheering.
  • Pretty standard “American brewpub.”
  • I saw three within easy view from where I was; two were showing the soccer game, the third golf I think.
  • “Pot” plants? Er, no. There might be some potted plants. There’s a spittoon behind the bar, that patrons can try to toss coins into.
  • None. There is no smoking in most places here any more.
  • No, no, and no.

What a great idea though, and a good exercise for writers (i.e., us). If I get a chance sit and observe in a pub sometime soon, perhaps I’ll revisit this with more in-depth notes.