Following is the tentative agenda for the 2015 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference. All sessions will be held at the Four Points Asheville hotel unless indicated. This agenda is subject to change and we will be including speaker names as they are confirmed.
Friday, July 17
11:00 AM Pre-conference Excursion Drop-off at Asheville Conference Hotel
11:00 AM Registration & Drop-Off for the Night of Many Beers: Conference attendees can register and drop-off beer for the Night of Many Beers anytime between 11:00 and the Conference Start. For the Night of Many Beers beer, besides dropping off the beer, please also write on a 8.5 x 11 piece of paper your name, your blog/company, your Twitter handle and the beer specs. We recommend registering around 11:00 then grabbing a bite to eat downtown, which is right outside the hotel’s front door, and then returning in time for the start of the conference and the intro from the Brewers Association. – Foyer
12:50 PM Conference Start – Ballroom
1:00 PM Introduction by Julia Herz of the Brewers Association: Julia has kicked off every conference since the first one in 2010. As a spokesperson for the Brewers Association, which represents the craft brewing industry in the United States, and publisher of CraftBeer.com, Julia is full of stats and figures. She doesn’t need much time to both provide us with an update on what is happening with craft beer in America and provide a motivational message about the importance of beer writing. Come ready to take notes! – Ballroom
1:30 PM Past, Present, and Future of Asheville Beer: Asheville is one of the most renowned beer towns in the world but how did they get they way … and where are they going in the future? We have an outstanding panel including John Lyda of Highland Brewing Company; Doug Reiser, owner of Burial Beer Co.; Tony Kiss, full-time beer writer at the Asheville Citizen-Times; and Anne-Fitten Glenn, author of Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Asheville Brewing. The panel will be moderated by Jennifer McLucas of the Asheville Brewers Alliance. – Ballroom
2:30 PM Break
2:45 PM Depart for Oskar Blues Brewery: We’ll head south from Asheville to visit the new Oskar Blues Brewery for a tour and Taste the Taps event. – Foyer
6:00 PM Dinner, tour, and tasting at Sierra Nevada Brewing: We’ll continue to the expansive premises of Sierra Nevada’s new brewery in Mills River for a tour, tasting, and dinner.
8:30 PM Beer Social Expo: New this year we are combining the afternoon trade show with the evening Beer Social to make one awesome event. The Beer Social Expo is a fun evening party where we’ll have over a dozen sponsors of the conference, both breweries pouring a variety of their favorite beers for you plus non-brewery sponsors with valuable information you can use to improve your blog. You’ll find plenty of fodder for your blog or social media, so bring your smart phone, iPad, or lap top and get social as you taste. – Ballroom
10:30 PM Night of Many Beers is the beer share event of the conference. Please bring one six-pack, growler or bomber of your favorite, something hard to get you have been cellaring, or anything else you choose. Please write on a 8.5 x 11 piece of paper your name, your blog/company, your Twitter handle and the beer specs and drop them off when you register for the conference. We’ll put them all out on ice and have a great time sharing beers and stories. -Ballroom
Saturday, July 18
9:30 AM The World of Blogging: Hear from WordPress.com expert Brandon Kraft who will share his impressions of the current state of blogging; provide some insight into how beer bloggers can improve their blogs using simple and free software; and venture into a few predictions about the future of blogging. – Ballroom
10:30 AM Building Craft Beer Brands: A Talk With Award-Winning Distributors: Each year the National Beer Wholesalers Association and Brewers Association jointly present the Craft Beer Distributor of the Year Award, the Craft Beer Distributor Achievement Award and the Craft Beer Distributor Recognition Award at the Great American Beer Festival. These awards honor independent beer distribution companies that do the most to market, promote and sell craft beer. Representatives from three award-winning distribution companies – Matt Abdoney of J. J. Taylor Distributing Florida, Inc. (Tampa, FL), Brad Johnston of Tryon Distributing (Charlotte, NC) and Robbie Maletis Jr. of Maletis Beverage (Portland, OR) – will share what it takes to build and grow successful craft beer brands in today’s competitive marketplace. Each of these companies has been recognized by the National Beer Wholesalers Association and Brewers Association as past finalists in the Craft Beer Distributor of the Year Awards competition, which honors independent beer distribution companies that do the most to market, promote and sell craft beer. From business planning to marketing trends, industry relationships, success stories and lessons learned, you won’t want to miss hearing from these experts in craft beer. – Ballroom
11:30 – 11:45 AM Break
11:45 AM Lunch with Craft Central: From the middle man, to craft beer champion. Watch and hear how Craft Central is using video and their middle man status to connect beer drinkers with craft beers by bringing to life the unique stories of the brewers who crafted them. – Ballroom
1:00 PM Advanced Social Media for the Beer Industry: Many people and businesses now use social media to share stories, market and communicate. The reality of these social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google + is they evolve and change continuously. New sites and apps are arising every year. Are you sure you will be effective achieving your goals on social media? Sarah Benoit, a professional social media trainer from JB Media Group, LLC in Asheville, will give you the inside scoop on where and how you should be spending your time on social media. She will also provide some tips and strategies on how to make your social media efforts more efficient and successful. – Ballroom
2:00 PM Moving Beyond the Beer Review: Reviewing beers is sort of the staple of beer writing. But feedback we get from consumers is they are mostly interested in the stories behind the beers. Hear from four winners of Best Blog at the North American Guild of Beer Writers awards about how to move beyond just reviewing beers to provide interesting content your readers will enjoy, using techniques including -storytelling, data analysis, photography and good old fashioned journalism. Our panel consists of Alan McCormick of Growler Fills, Bryan Roth of This Is Why I’m Drunk, Oliver Gray of Literature & Libations, and Jessica Miller of Hey, Brewtiful. – Ballroom
3:00 – 3:15 PM Break
3:15 PM Quality and Consistency: The 3 PM Tasting: Every day, around the country, Anheuser-Busch’s brewmasters gather at 3 p.m. to evaluate the day’s brew. This process is unique to Anheuser-Busch, and the brewmasters involved take great care to assess every part of the beer they’re making to ensure quality and consistency. Curious about the number of elements tasted each day as part of this process, or how to detect off flavors? In this sponsored session, participants will be taken behind the scenes, during a rare opportunity, to experience the 3 p.m. tasting with an Anheuser-Busch brewmaster who will walk them through the rigorous testing and sampling of all aspects of the brewing process. There will also be time for Q&A at the end, so bring questions. – Ballroom
4:15 – 4:30 PM Break
4:30 PM Keynote Address: Kim Jordan, Cofounder and CEO of New Belgium Brewing – Ballroom
5:15 PM Live Beer Blogging featuring beers from the North Carolina Brewers Guild: Live Beer Blogging is the premier event of the Beer Bloggers Conference. 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. Tweeting about each beer is easy. If you are good, you’ll take notes and publish a blog post about Live Beer Blogging at the conclusion. If you are really good, you’ll publish 10 separate posts, all live and on the spot. (See the Great Beer Now blog for an excellent summary of the 2014 event.) – Ballroom
6:15 to 8:00 PM Dinner on your own: There are lots of great places to eat and drink in Asheville. Tonight you will have the opportunity to explore these options as you make your way from the conference hotel to The Millroom for the evening party. We will highlight a few of the locals favorite watering holes and eateries as the conference date nears.
8:10 PM Trolley to Asheville Brewdown at The Millroom departs conference hotel The first of two fifty-person trolley shuttles to The Millroom departs the hotel at 8:10 PM sharp. We recommend walking the mile to The Millroom en route as you go out for dinner but if you need to return to the hotel after dinner, this trolley’s for you.
8:30 PM Asheville Brewdown at The Millroom, hosted by the Asheville Brewers Alliance and Explore Asheville. Asheville’s vibrant, quirky, and absolutely in-demand status as a must-visit town in the U.S is highlighted in this interactive, music-filled evening at the newest venue in downtown, the Millroom at Asheville Brewing Company. Local purveyors of Asheville’s “foodtopia” scene will be pairing their products with Asheville beers for a sensory-oriented evening of entertainment and learning. -The Millroom
10:30PM Downtown Asheville, NC A 50-person trolley will depart The Millroom for the conference hotel at 10:30PM. It will return to shuttle a second group of beer enthusiasts 30-minutes later if needed. It is Saturday night, The Millroom is downtown Asheville and this neighborhood features a lot of great beer. You may want to stay downtown, have a few and then walk or take a cab back to the hotel later, just sayin’.
Sunday, July 19
9:30 AM Blog to X: Beer blogging is a fantastic pursuit that provides a platform for you to speak about your passion, introduces you to interesting people, and allows you to taste a lot of great beers. But can you turn your blogging into even more? Hear from a panel of bloggers who have done just that: Eric Steen turned his blogging into a job with Hopworks Brewery in Oregon; Mark deNote grew from blogging into becoming a published book author; Tereza Marks leveraged her blogging experience to snag a paid weekly column with her local newspaper; and Will Siss now hires himself as host and beer expert at local events. – Ballroom
10:20 AM Improving Your Beer Writing: No matter what else you do well, if you want to be accepted as a beer writer you better have high quality writing. Hear from Gerard Walen, the author of “Florida Breweries”, founding editor of BeerInFlorida.com, and a former business editor for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and Nora McGunnigle, author at NOLA Beer Blog and full-time professional beer writer. This session will go beyond writing 101 to talk about techniques for reviewing beers and describing brewing culture. – Ballroom
11:10 – 11:25 AM Break
11:25 AM How to Be a Better Beer Blogger: The global interest in beer is booming and beer blogging should be booming along with it. But beer blogs stop being active or go extinct all the time and beer bloggers often don’t take advantage of the opportunities available to them. Make sure you are one of the beer bloggers riding the wave of the beer phenomenon! This session will cover ten basic but essential tips for beer bloggers. Presented by Clare Goggin Sivits of Rogue Ales & Spirits (previously at the blog Beer Goggins), Rich Taylor of The Beer Cast in Edinburgh and now working for Brew Dog, and Carla Jean Lauter, The Beer Babe. – Ballroom
12:15 PM Wrapup and announcement of #BBC16 Date and Location – Ballroom
12:30 PM Conference Close