Crossroads-Beers and Bloggers-3rd Annual Beer Bloggers Conference
Recently I’ve heard the questions posed, “who are beer bloggers” and “why do they need a conference?” Here’s a bit of logic behind why I blog. Three simple reasons come to mind. I love to write. I love beer. I love beer people. OK,well, four reasons. Most importantly, I want to see the craft beer movement play an ever expanding role in growing the notion that we MUST bring back farms and craft and art. For me that means talking about beer, supporting craft breweries and blogging about it. I can’t speak for the rest of my cohorts but I think many blog for these same reasons. Most of us are keen on getting the word about great breweries (and the beer they make) out to the public.
It’s pretty cool that we can share what is going on from coast to coast, country to country without leaving our chairs. Better yet, (because of many of these blogs and this conference) we are pulled away from our comfort zones and travel to different places, to try different beers and meet people who otherwise may never meet. It stands to reason that these like minded folks would want to get together to share their passion for beer. Cheers to Zephyr Adventures for doing a great job of making this a reality.
The 3rd Beer Bloggers conference was set to take place in Indianapolis July 13-15 with a pre-conference excursion in Chicago on July 12. Sean and I had decided to road trip it from our home town of Salisbury, in northern MA and make as many stops as possible along the way. Needless to say, on the morning we left we were pretty unclear about how driving a combined total of over 2500 miles would bode on our mental faculties.
We hit the road, on Monday, July 9 duded out in shorts and beer t-shirts (the first of 8 crazy days in this uniform) with sights set on Indy. We rolled out in a hybrid Altima loaded with an overflowing trunk and back seat ready to take on the 1000+ miles that would ultimately lead us to the conference and the many friends we had made the years before. Oh did I mention we had over 40 bottles of beer with us? Wicked.
We arrived in Chicago on Wednesday evening to chill for a night so we’d be ready take on the conference at full force. We chose to check out the Taste of Chicago events, then hopped aboard a pedi-cab to Berghoff Chicago for a sampling of their beers. Tucked into bed early that night, visions of beer bottles danced in our heads.
We rose brightly on Thursday morning and played bumper cars through Chi-town traffic to pick up fellow blogger and beer bro, Brian @seacoastbevlab at the airport. A day of exploring Wrigley field, sipping Goose Island beers and packing away Chicago dogs at Cubby Bear, and a trip to Goose Island Wrigleyville kept the 3 of us more than happy. We were stoked that Carla @beerbabe met us in the early afternoon to complete our little four-pack.
Goose Island Clybourne invited us to a beer dinner. They were bubbling over with hospitality and the food and beer made quite an impact on us all. What a great way to begin the conference!
|@Dukester and Mike @mmcooljam||Mike @BrewDad and Tiffany @99bottles|
|Tour at Goose Island||Alan, Sean and Dale|
A Chicago pub crawl organized by local bloggers Jess Murphy and Kristin Stroud was the perfect forum for trying some more Chicago brews and clinking glasses with fellow bloggers.
Lunch and a tasting was served on our way down to Indy on Friday at Lafayette Brewing Company. The Black Angus Oatmeal Stout was a standout for @2beerguys and myself.
Finally at the conference, all setup and ready to go…
Opening Thoughts... Julia Herz of the Brewers Association got us all pumped up for what was to come in the world of beer.
Keynote Speech was given by Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery. Awesome. Not to mention, I love Brooklyn’s beers!
I was whisked into the world of Live Beer Blogging. Each Brewery had 5 minutes to pitch their beers…it was intense and really cool. Glad I did it!
|Carla @BeerBabe and @Dukester||Troika from @Schlafly Brewing|
|@RyanARoss from @Karl_Strauss Brewing Company||Ram Restaurant and Brewery|
|@BoulderBeerCo||Dan Kopman and Troika from @Schlafly|
@brewdad started my Birthday out with a bang by presenting me with a Olympia beer and a group rendition of Happy Birthday! Thank you Mike!
We all walked to dinner, and had brews and conversation at the Tomlinson Tap Room.
@ngoss , @beerbabe and @growlerfills
The Indy Pub Crawl was hosted by Indianapolis Girls Pint Out-Lots of great stops! Thanks Tamre Mullins @girlspintout
The sight on Saturday of the conference had beer bloggers and industry folk alike sitting all in rows like the neatly planted rows of corn along the highways of the “Crossroads of America”. There was an amazing representation of folks from all over the country and even one from the Netherlands! We sat with our computers at the ready after an already jam packed day one a few glassy eyes in the room but generally everyone was pretty chipper.
We had a wonderful lunch hosted by Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company. So amazing!
Comparative Beer and Glass Tasting with Spiegelau using Brooklyn Brewery beers. I never thought glassware could make that much of a difference! They do.
Hayo, @bestetotnutoe brought a Westveletern 12 6 pack with glasses to give away in a twitter contest. (Really nice) Yours truly won. Made many new friends Thanks HAYO!
We enjoyed some fantastic beers at the 17th annual Indiana Microbrewers Festival. Saw a geyser, a guy in a kilt fall over and @brewdad entered into a keg toss. Epic to say the least.
|@Brewdad with an impressive throw during the Keg Toss||Blackberries through a hopback!|
|@2beerguys @dukester @growlerfills and @seacoastbevlab
getting their samplers on at the 17th annual Indianapolis brewers festival
|@stephaniejerzy sampling local brew|
Distributors, Monarch – World Class Beer treated us to dinner and a cool tour of their warehouse. Have never been surrounded by so much beer!
The infamous Night of Many Bottles….no need to elaborate.
On Sunday after a scrumptious breakfast with Carla and Brian at Patachou (per recommendation from @mmcooljam) and a healthy walk under my belt, I made my way back to the conference. Randy Mosher (www.radicalbrewing.com) filled us in on everything beer, beginning with the dawn of time. Epic.
At the conference end, an onlooker would have thought our group rather awkward. We all stood around, waiting for something more. Wanting something more. There was no more. We bid farewell to some fantastic people who are crazy enough to be called beer bloggers.
Luckily for a few of us that didn’t have a plane to catch, we were able to hit Sun King for a post conference lunch and a killer tour. We also met Phil @wynkoop beer drinker of the year and his famous rubber chicken.
Triton Brewing @tritonbrewing (on recommendation of Jennifer Jansen @jljlove who we missed terribly) was super welcoming. One of their regulars* schooled us on Triton’s new 5barrel brown that I absolutely loved!
With the conference behind us, we had the daunting task of driving 1000+ miles back to our beloved beach town. We were more than ready for a visual of the Boston skyline and the smell of salty air.
To me, the overall vibe of this years conference was one of comraderie. We were a mixed bag of professionals (not all employed by a beer related company) each sharing our love of beer and all things beer related. Each presenter did a magnificent job of giving his/her opinions and perspectives on their involement in the beer world. Hopefully we all walked away with a renewed outlook on blogging and a little more knowledge in our corners. I am very grateful to have been received so warmly by so many businesses and to have had the opportunity to meet new bloggers and re-connect with “blogging friends”.
Peace, Love and Beer…
*Brewpub tip- Look for someone who seems like they frequent the establishment often. They could be named Norm. Even Norma. Anyway, they will probably be more than happy to fill you in on the beers and maybe even supply you with info on the “special” stuff that might be new. Also, they are usually really cool to talk to. As was the case for us at Triton.
*BBC tips- Drinks lots of water, Gatorade, Power-aide, coconut water. In other words, hydrate! Rest. Eat. Oh and there will always be more beer. And more beer. And more beer.
So long, farewell, see ya next time!