The first day of the Beer Bloggers Conference started extremely well with a talk by Julia Herz of the Brewers Association and CraftBeer.com. Julia spoke last year as well and her talk highlights the current state of craft beer in the United States. The audience loved her admission that she is a closet “cross drinker”, which is interesting because it shows craft beer does not necessarily see it as competing with wine and spirits. Instead, there is a time and place for every drink.
We then moved into our first keynote speech, actually a duo – longtime beer legend Fred Eckhardt along with Oregonian columnist and blogger John Foyston. Everyone loved 85-year old Fred and his humorous approach to life and beer. John played the pro, deftly keeping the conversation moving, asking questions, and providing interesting quotes from Fred’s life.
We then had a presentation called “How to Brew on Your Own Stovetop (While Blogging on Your Laptop)” by Erica Shea and Stephen Valand, co-founders and owners of the Brooklyn Brew Shop and co-authors of the forthcoming The Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Book. Stephen and Erica had a great New York-style in their presentation and won over the audience with humor and a great presentation.
Then it was off to a hop farm south of Portland. The bus ride was long, thanks to an especially arduous Friday afternoon commute, but we were entertained on the ride by a number of local Oregon brewers who poured some of their more unusual beers. The hop processing facility was in full swing and was the first time many of us had ever seen one in action, or at all. The Oregon Brewers Guild put out a dinner spread on the lawn and the whole experience was well worth the trip.
Finally, it was the Night of Many Bottles. We had so many beers brought by attendees, my personal strategy was to wander the room and ask bloggers which beers they would recommend I try. I tasted a pumpkin beer, a cherry homebrew collaboration, a whiskey-barrel aged beer, and a number of other excellent offerings.