Day 2 of the European Beer Bloggers Conference was a full day of speakers, discussions, food, and beer.
We started with a Breweries and Social Media panel featuring Fergus Fitzgerald from Adnams, Mark McClean from Brasserie de Brunehaut, and Dave Bailey from Hardknott Brewing. I found it quite interesting that Dave introduced himself by saying his is a very small brewery and they “market themselves via Twitter”, Mark said he was hired solely to create a Twitter presence for the brewery, and Fergus spoke mostly about Twitter in describing Adnam’s efforts.
In fact, I could paraphrase Mark by saying “I am here to tell you that Twitter is what works – more than Facebook or anything else in social media”. All three presenters do a good job in getting Twitter followers but when asked whether it resulted in actual beer sales, they seemed to agree the real goal was to reach out to influencers (such as beer bloggers) who will then have contact with the public.
Next was a panel on International Blogging with Alessio Leone from Hoppy Hour in Italy, Darren from Beer Sweden, and Arnoud Paternot from Bestetotnutoe.nl. The panelists actually discussed the beer scene in each country as much or more than the blogging scene but both aspects were new and interesting to the mostly-UK audience.
We then went on to a panel on Shaking Up the Brewing Scene with Martin Dickie from Brewdog. Martin had everyone absolutely quiet and on the edge of their seats as he started playing grunge rock on his laptop, methodically pulled out and poured a bottle of Brewdog ale, and took a sip before saying a word to the audience. His talk was mostly a history of Brewdog but did not disappoint with several irreverent lines and a bit of a “this is what we do, like it or $%#* yourself” attitude.
After lunch, we had one of the most interestingly-played panels of any blogger conference I have organized: The Future of Beer Writing with beer writers Tim Hampson and Pete Brown. Whether planned or not I do not know but Tim and Pete had one of the most appealing back-and-forth styles I have ever seen from a pair of speakers on stage, casually interjecting comments and politely referring to the other for another perspective. It would have been perfect if we had given them easy chairs and a fireplace background.
We then switched gears to learn about Beer and Food Pairing with Simon Jackson and Dan Cannas of the Beer Academy. Simon and Dan had selected five beers (actually four beers plus one tea) and paired these with five canapes of various sorts. I would say the general opinion at my table was that some pairings were “brilliant”, as our British colleagues would say, while others didn’t stand out.
It was time to kick off the evening. Wells & Young’s had hired four “hop pickers” dressed in ancient garb and on stilts, as was originally done, to walk us from the conference facility to one of London’s more famous pubs, Dirty Dick’s. There we witnessed a race of six snails to beer (really), a panel of the top brass (including owner Paul Wells) of the brewery, and a traditional pub dinner to go along with Wells & Young’s beers.
We all jumped in taxis, graciously hired by Camden Town Brewery, to the brewery for The Night of Many Beers. This was an absolutely amazing evening party with 13 separate breweries pouring, including three from Sweden, three from Italy, two from Scotland, and one from the Czech Republic. The breweries were incredibly generous to bring some of their best stuff – among my favorites were a ginger beer from Williams Brothers Breweries and an American-inspired ale from Sigtuna Brygghus in Sweden.