Once a year, local, national, and international beer bloggers descend on the Beer Bloggers Conference. This year’s 5th annual con was held in beer mecca, San Diego, California, and was nothing short of fantasmic. Not only did I get the opportunity to sit on some truly inspirational panels and workshops, but I also had the opportunity to meet some truly talented bloggers.
I should preface this by saying that there was actually a Day 0 which included a bus trip around LA and OC touring breweries and our ever growing beer scene. I didn’t attend said bus tour, but seeing bleary eyed and disheveled bloggers on Saturday morning conveyed the gist of what went down. I got in to San Diego on the earlier side, 8am, and checked into my room with OC Beer Blog’s Greg Nagel. The fridge was absent, but necessary, so the kind staff at the Marriott Mission Valley quickly remedied what could have been a tragedy (whales require chilled air, brah).
Prior to the convention kick-off, I met with Allan Wright (Eat.Drink.Boulder, Zephyr Adventures & organizer of the Beer Blogger’s Conference), Jessica Miller (HeyBrewtiful), and Tom Aguero (Queen City Drinks) to plan our sunday panel on collaborative beer blogging. Collaboration is a subject I’m passionate about and it’s interesting to hear how others define it. I was in good company with these three, but we can go more into that in a later post.
Craft Beer Influencers
The convention kicked off with a moving speech by Julia Herz of the Brewers Association. If you haven’t had the opportunity to meet this influential craft beer persona or to hear her talk, it’s definitely something you should look into. Herz’s talk focused on craft’s upward momentum and the importance of initiating the “uninitiated” (those who haven’t been introduced to craft beer yet).
“What we publish should make beer better or shouldn’t be published.” – Julia Herz
Julia was followed by an impressive panel of San Diego craft beer giants: Peter Zien (Alesmith), Tomme Arthur (The Lost Abbey), and Chuck Silva (Green Flash) who focused on San Diego influence on the craft movement. Peter Zien, who I have the utmost respect for, also touched on something that few commercial brewers admit: the importance of home brewing and the innovation it brings to the brewing industry. He noted that he still judges competitions as a Grand Master BJCP Judge and is inspired by the creativity that he comes across.
“Home brewing is the skeleton of a brewery” – Peter Zien
Pioneering San Diego Beer with Karl Strauss
Dinner was served at the new Karl Struass tasting room, which opened in late 2013. Strangely enough, the location itself is not a new facility, it opened for beer production in 1991 and has been producing large batches of Karl Strauss beer ever since. It should be noted however that the individual brew-pubs located around San Diego also produce beer as well. We were welcomed and treated to tacos & beer, by none other than co-founder Chris Cramer, who covered the Karl Strauss legacy and how it helped to shape San Diego as it is today.
“Craft beer in San Diego started with Karl Struass” – Chris Cramer
Thank you Karl Strauss for your warm hospitality and tasty suds.
Couch Trippin’ on Hap Vapors
Hop Vapin’! If you cocked your head to the side muttering “what the fu….” then you’re like me. The cherry on top of an already impressive day, consisted of hanging out with the folks from Lagunitas and enjoying some damn fine beer….and hops. Lagunitas is pioneering vaporized hop sampling. By utilizing a Volcano, a vaporizer which is primarily used for Humulus Lupulus’s laid back surfin’ cousin, the Lagunitas team extracted some pretty amazing aroma. Simcoe, Amarillo, Galaxy, Equinox, each variaetal was vaped into it’s own bag and quickly huffed into the nearest beer blogger’s nostril. While this display seemed gimmicky, it did a really nice job of highlighting each hop’s uniqueness and it was a fun spin on hop education.
Lagunitas brought the big guns in terms of beer, which included a 6 year old stout, Mandraison (mandarin + raison saison), and a Sonoma Farmhouse Sour! This was all in addition to staples like Lagunitas Sucks, Lagunitas IPA, Brown Shugga, Hairy Eyeball, and Imperial Red. Bloggers were encouraged to sample this wide selection of beers followed by couch trippin’, a green screen set up with some pretty crazy videos goin’ on in the back ground. “Do you couch trip brah?”
5 Valuable Memories from BBC14 Day 1
- Follow The Brewers Associations’s Julia Herz on Twitter – She’s awesome
- San Diego Influencers – Tomme Arthur, Chuck Silva, Peter Zien – San Diego wouldn’t be what it is today without them
- Karl Strauss Brewing Company – helped to pioneer craft in San Diego
- Lagunitas Brewing Co – is not afraid to get creative and edgy. #HopVapin’ may just be the next big thing. Their Sonoma Farmhouse Sour is nice – Funky, slightly tart, with notes of grass
- #FACT You can do no wrong with a Firestone Walker night cap – Krieky Bones. Write that down. #FUF
— Julia Herz (@HerzMuses) August 23, 2014