“I asked for a car, I got a computer. How’s that for being born under a bad sign?”
It’s a typical writing night for me. The little lady is already asleep with the cat trying to monopolize the remaining area between her and myself. TV is on a movie I’ve seen so that I really don’t need to watch, but I can drop a quote or two while editing. But this one article was a little different but reminiscent.
After having one of the most unique experiences in my writing pseudo-career, I was thinking on how to wrap all of it up into one article. Then the conference seminars start to set in. “Write the first paragraph last” “Tell a story.” “FOR GOD’S SAKE DON’T DO A BEER REVIEW!!” Then it dawned on me: I used to do this all the time. The time before VBR, I had a sports blog that I used to weave in cool pop culture into my articles. I’ve moved away from that format when I got here, although we have had some fun through the years. But tonight of all nights seemed like a good idea to break one of those out. So here is our wrap up set to quotes from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
The Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference is a little bit of everything. Seminars. Panels. Drinking. Live Blogging. Drinking. Tours. Food. Drinking. And Drinking. But through the super-hectic, always moving conference, you really do need to get out of the grind. If it is your first time, do the Pre-excursion. We went out in and around Raleigh. I knew nobody Thursday morning and I came into the conference start on Friday with a new set of friends. Don’t try to rush out on Sunday either. Asheville is an awesome hotbed of local breweries. Take time to look around the city some more. I was not able to heed that this year, but I’m taking the safeties off next year so I don’t make the same mistake twice (sorry, watching The Hunt for the Red October as well.)
“-Ism’s in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself.”
Part of the reason I came down to the conference was to also learn about writing in this medium and updated tools of the trade. But after reviewing my notes (and some that another VBR compatriot picked up on) is that there was an emphasis on moving AWAY from the beer review. And that seemed sad, as that is a majority of what we do. We tell a story, rate a beer, promote the industry and that isn’t what you should do. Well all we’re gonna say is we believe in what we do. If people don’t like it and turn their nose up at us, so be it (although 99% of craft beer is asshole free). I know it’s a shocker, but some people, even from my state, didn’t like me. Long hair, don’t care. We like what we do and, while we are going to tweak somethings, we’re still gonna press on.
The highlight of the trip was our ride out to Sierra Nevada. The place was like visiting a Bond Villian’s hideout at the end of the movie. Every detail nailed down. Even bell and whistle added. Everything you wanted or needed in a brewery they had AND to large distribution scale. It made some of the macro tours I’ve been on seem small. But what came after was insane…..
We started to walk behind the brewery/compound and heard German music. Like straight up accordion and tuba. As we are walking to the bottom of the hill, we get to this meadow down by the river that has been filled with German food and this beer truck that is pour out Oktoberfest beer in glass steins. Come to find out that we are the first to try it. Anywhere. And who is also hanging out? The top brass of both Sierra Nevada and Brauhaus Riegele, the German brewery they made Oktoberfest with. I lived next to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and that was better than Germany Village. I don’t think I will ever top that experience.
“The question isn’t “what are we going to do,” the question is “what aren’t we going to do?”
But the overwhelming theme of this conference was that you got to do EVERYTHING and it fit just about everyone who attended from the lowly internet blogger like myself to the breweries to the distributors. Here are some of the places and thoughts from this past weekend.
1a. I don’t want to down play our trip to Oskar Blues at all. That place was legit as well and had some of the best beer we tasted like Death by Coconut and Mango Habanero Dale’s Pale Ale. They were just as friendly and open to all of us and it was extremely fun as well.
1b. I don’t want to down play our trip to the Funkatorium and Wicked Weed. They are pushing/leading the way in east coast sour innovation (although Stillwater making a push commercially). White Angel is legit. Genesis is superb.
2. I crossed 1000 unique beers on Untappd. I have a ton more I need to check in, which will happen despite current objections from VBR staffing.
3. Best things I brought with me around each day: Cliff bars and Mio Energy. You didn’t know (1) when or how much you were gonna eat and (2) how much you were going to drink. Water was plentiful and filling up at stops was a must. But the extra caffeine delivery helped out round 5pm each day.
In thinking about next year’s BBC in Tampa Bay, we look forward to not only meeting old and new friend, but seeing what the industry and ourselves have become based off of the experiences of this past weekend. So long.
You’re still here? It’s over. Go home. Go.