BBC 14: Day two quick notes

The second day of the Beer Bloggers Conference was a full one with a ton of great information—too much to fit into a single blog post, but I wanted to post a few salient notes.

Ken Grossman

First off, a surprising (tech) fact: WordPress, the software that powers this and many other blogs, now accounts for an astounding 22% of all websites. As a web developer by trade that is pretty astounding to me.

The Beer Blogging Ethics panel was excellent and provided the most interaction and feedback of the day (for sessions—not counting actually drinking beer!). I’m pleased that most or all of our fellow bloggers just seem to get it, even though the ethics of beer blogging is still a gray area. Warrants further thought and longer post.

Ken Grossman’s keynote speech was fantastic, providing fascinating history of the founding of Sierra Nevada Brewing as well as informative Q&A. Ken sat next to me at lunch at the Yard House prior to that and chatted with us. Genuinely nice guy who was interested in learning more about what we do.

And it was during Ken’s keynote that next year’s BBC was announced: Asheville, North Carolina, July 17 through 19. Asheville is one of the most vibrant beer scenes in the country, so that will be great. (Bend, Oregon next?)

BBC 14: Live beer blogging

The signature event at the Beer Bloggers Conference; here’s their own description:

It is a fast-paced, fun event that is sort of like speed dating with brewers. You will sit at a table with other conference participants as a brewery representative has five minutes to pour you a select beer, describe it, answer questions, and allow you to blog or Tweet about it live. Brewers will then rotate to a new table and you will ultimately meet 10 breweries and try 10 beers in 50 minutes.

They say (tongue-in-cheek) if you’re good, you’ll do a single blog post, and if really good, 10 separate blog posts; I myself opt for a single post that is continuously updated so I don’t flood everyone’s feeds with too many posts at once. So, let’s go!

Don’t forget to follow along on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Untappd!

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout – Coffee

Side-by-side tasting with warm (room temperature) vs. cold samples to taste the difference temperature can make. Quite a noticeable difference, the warmer is fruitier and luscious, the cold analogous to an iced coffee—good, but roasty and muted.

Green Flash Citra Session IPA

Brewed entirely with Citra hops, distinctive note comes from the hops and it finished dry. Another win from Green Flash, a great palate-cleansing IPA.

Boardwalk Food Company Beer Bread

Four varieties of beer breads (made with Miller Lite to highlight the bread itself), they just launched, and they are delicious—they served up 4 flavors. They are dry mixes that you add beer to. I’ll post more details later on how to order.

Samuel Adams KMF Grand Cru

Just bottled like 3 days ago, deliciously tart with beautiful cherry notes and a sweet notes that undercuts the acetone-tart, I really quite like this. (The KMF stands for Kosmic Mother Funk.) When this hits the shelves I will be buying it.

Warsteiner Pilsner

Number one German pilsner in the US. This is a great pilsner, super clean, amazing malt flavor, this is one I can drink all day long.

Firestone Walker Pivo Pilsner

Another pilsner to follow up the Warsteiner—a “German pils with a Bohemian twist” as the rep says. Brewed with Saphir hops to give it a lemongrass character. It’s the current reigning GABF gold medal winner. Crisp, delicious pils—the hops give it a nice bite and this is another all-day drinker that will also satisfy hop lovers.

The Lost Abbey Deliverance

Oak-aged blend of Angel’s Share and Serpent Stout, about 12% holy…! Raisins, luscious barrel notes, this beer is amazing and super limited. Hats off to The Lost Abbey for an amazing, amazing beer.

Rough Draft Weekday IPA

Lovely nose, reminds me of Flat Tail’s Little Green a little bit, a 4.8% session IPA that’s clean and lightly bitter and really nice drinking.

Lagunitas Sucks and Sonoma Farmhouse Sour

We all know about Sucks, but the Sour is something special—a sour mash Somethin’ Extra aged in wine barrels with Brett and cherries and a bunch of other complex stuff. Really, really lovely sour beer, they have pulled out a great beer.

Stone Collaboration – Chris Banker, Insurgente Xocoveza Mocha Stout

Described as Mexican hot chocolate in a glass. First smell impression—chilis. However it’s chocolatey and roasty and not spicy at all. Lovely bitter/dark chocolate comes through and this is a nicely suprising beer.

BBC 14: Day one thoughts

Don’t forget to follow along on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Untappd!

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