I’m not gonna lie. Waking up for Day 2 of the Beer Bloggers Conference was a challenge. I’m sure my amazing first day of the conference played a role, but more than anything I just needed some sleep after a serious slumber shortage in the days leading up to my trip.
Despite the fact that presentations started at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, I made my way into my hotel shower around 12:30 p.m., relatively rested. That meant I missed all the tech sessions (check out fellow blogger Jake Koeneman’s recap of those for details) but managed to catch the tail end of the Bull & Bush Brewery‘s “private”-yet-open-to-everyone beer tasting and pizza party. I had a sample of Bull & Bush’s Legend of the Liquid Brain barrel-aged imperial stout there and scarfed down a slice of pepperoni pizza before B&B co-owner Erik Peterson hooked me up with a pint of his brewery’s MAN BEER IPA for the road—er, for the quick two-floor elevator ride and short walk across the hotel lobby to the meeting room.
As I nursed my IPA, I witnessed the unfolding of a tensely received presentation titled “Craft Beer and Women: As Consumers, Industry Members, and Blog Readers.” While I think pretty much everyone in the room was sympathetic to the goal of making sure the craft beer world is welcoming to women, the methods expressed in the seminar—adding more recipes to your blog, for one; cursing less, for another—were under steady attack from attendees as stereotyping. As the audience and panelists debated, I found myself out of IPA and fidgeting in my chair uncomfortably. An awkward silence even overcame the constant stream of #BBC10 tweets from conference attendees for a period of time. Between the somewhat patronizing content and the antagonistic mood in the room (it probably didn’t help matters that the three women on the panel shared beer while the audience jealously settled for table water), this session couldn’t end soon enough for me.
Next, Stone Brewing CEO Greg Koch reset the mood masterfully by distracting everyone from the drama with bottles of his brewery’s newest beer, Lucky Bastard. He then lit into a compelling keynote in which he challenged bloggers to put on their investigative journalist hats and shine a light on the darker (read: unethical and/or illegal) aspects of the beer industry. Based on short video snippets I had seen of him on the Internet, I had formed the conclusion that Koch was pompous and rather contrived. I must admit that after seeing him speak in person and hearing his convictions on doing the right thing in the beer industry and his compelling arguments for the slow food movement, I have a lot of respect for him. The fact that he hung around for the remainder of the conference and casually chatted with attendees was a welcome bonus. I must say though that with lines like, “If you like our beer, that’s not a compliment to us. It’s a compliment to you,” he still does qualify as pompous. But I can live with that.
The live beer blogging session followed Koch. When I was telling my friend Luke about the conference weeks beforehand, I said, “And there’s going to be a session where all these breweries go from table to table introducing us to their beers and we have five minutes to sample it and blog about it.” Hedging a bit, I added, “It’s kinda nerdy, I know.” Well, Luke reacted favorably to the idea, and ultimately so did I after a 60-minute period Saturday afternoon in which I tasted and tweeted about 12 beers. Personally I could have used a couple minutes between these five-minute “speed dates” with the beers/brewery reps to collect my thoughts and savor the previous sample, but it certainly made for a fun and chaotic table. Here are the tweets I sent out during the session:
- Table 9 at the live blogger event. New Belgium’s La Folie. A brown aged 1 to 3 years in oak barrels. Puckering sourness but with nice body. 3:51 PM Nov 6th via TweetDeck
- Taste 2: Breckenridge Christmas ale. No spices added but picks up spice from the hops: Chinook and Mt. Hood. Brewed since 1993. Same recipe. 3:55 PM Nov 6th via TweetDeck
- No. 3: New Planet gluten free beer. Tasting raspberry ale. Nice light refreshing body. On the verge of having too much raspberry but works. 4:02 PM Nov 6th via TweetDeck
- #4: dogfish head world wide stout. 18% abv. Mariah provides chocolates to pair. Nice & chocolately. Lighter on coffee taste; like that. 4:08 PM Nov 6th via TweetDeck
- No. 5. Great Lakes E. Fitzgerald porter. All GL beers unpasteurized. Nice beer, a bit more coffee focus than I like as a non-coffee drinker. 4:12 PM Nov 6th via TweetDeck
- Next up: AC Golden Colorado Native. Lager. All ingredients from Colorado. Brewed in former pilot brewery for Coors. My palate blown by stout 4:18 PM Nov 6th via TweetDeck
- Next: Karl Strauss Full Suit Belgian style brown. Winter seasonal. Aged on French oak chips. Mix of brown and belgian spices is really nice. 4:21 PM Nov 6th via TweetDeck
- Next: Rob Widmer with Widmer Bros. Barrel Aged Brrrbon limited release. Lighter mouthfeel than I expected. Nice mix of flavors though. 4:26 PM Nov 6th via TweetDeck
- Next: Rogue Chocolate Stout presented by Sebbie, who’s on the bottle! Nice Rogue earrings! Based on Shakespeare Stout. Very chocolatey natch 4:29 PM Nov 6th via TweetDeck
- Next: great divide oak aged yeti. Odd (in a good way) taste that we can’t place at the finish. Oak? Hops? Tasty though. 4:37 PM Nov 6th via TweetDeck
- Next: O’Dell’s Mountain Standard Double Black IPA. Great (but not overpowering) hop nose. Huge head on our samples. 4:42 PM Nov 6th via TweetDeck
- Next: Deschutes Hop Trip. Fresh hop pale. 100% crystal hops. 3 hrs from vine to kettle for hops. Love that it’s not too heavy/overpowering. 4:45 PM Nov 6th via TweetDeck
After that experience, more beer wasn’t exactly at the top of my “want list” (proving to all you doubters that I do indeed have my limits). Regardless, it was off to Boulder Beer for a nice beer dinner in their pub. It was great to see the place and meet some new friends (plus Greg Koch, who shared some overseas travel horror stories with our table). I only had one beer, though: a Hazed and Infused dry-hopped ale. Plus lots and lots of water.
I tried to rally for the conference pub crawl that followed on Pearl Street, but never mustered much energy. After a failed attempt to get service at the crammed West End Tavern, fellow blogger Alison (creator of From This Pint On) and I began the 1.2-mile walk back to our hotels. As luck would have it though, nature called and we made a quick pit stop at the Pearl Street Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery. There we ended up trying delicious samples of three IPAs, the XXX Pale Ale (my favorite) and the Dropkick Stout. The staff was superb and seemed to really enjoy their work. I’ll definitely make a point to return there someday. This time for full pints.
View my photos from Day 2 of the Beer Bloggers Conference: