Saturday in San Diego at the 2014 Beer Bloggers Conference
Saturday started bright and early, with coffee instead of beer. We had a full agenda on Saturday including some great sessions about blogging, photography, and ethics. We learned a ton, but I’m sure that’s not what you want to hear about. You probably want to know about the booze-filled events, right? Well here you go:
The first beers of the day were at Yard House, where we had a wonderful lunch. Yard House rolled out the red carpet and showered us with incredible food, free swag, a trip in the (freezing cold) keg room, and of course lots of beer. We had unlimited samples of their house brews, all delicious beers made in partnership with Uinta Brewing Company. We also got coupons to use for their full beer selection and we splurged on varieties we couldn’t get at home – like the Allagash Tripel and White, and the Iron Fist Velvet Glove. In all honesty, there was hardly enough time to try all the great beers we wanted, but we put forth a mighty effort.
Keynote Speaker: Ken Grossman
After lunch, the agenda started with our keynote speech by Sierra Nevada’s Ken Grossman. Ken Grossman was awesome and told us tales that ranged from the humble beginning of Sierra Nevada to the crazy shenanigans encountered during the Beer Camp Across America tour. He was great, and we all listened and snapped pictures like he was a rock star, because, in our world, he really is. After the keynote, we had a session on social media – and then it was time for the event we’d all be anxiously awaiting: live beer blogging.
Live Beer Blogging Time!
Live beer blogging was an event that we were anxiously awaiting since we arrived. Over the course of an hour, we had 11 beers and 1 beer bread vendor come around to our table for exactly 5 minutes. During their quick visit, they told us about their sample while we attempted to use social media to share our experience with the world via our blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. It was bananas! Jeff and I could barely keep up with the drinking, much less trying to talk to the brewer and send our insights into the interwebs. And we use the term insights very, very loosely. We got a few random messages out, but so many other bloggers did much better recaps (like this great one from NOLA Beer Blog) so we will spare you ours. Suffice it to say it was a fun, crazy, beer-filled blur, and we learned a lot about how to do it better next time. The entire lineup of beers was excellent. Some of the more unique beers we enjoyed: An incredible Mexican Chocolate called Xocobeza from Stone Brewing, a delicious Marionberry Braggot from Rogue, and the Deliverance thanks to Lost Abbey. We even got to try Goose Island’s Bourbon County Coffee Stout both chilled and room temperature. We did a horrible job taking legible notes, but they were all unique and delicious.
When the dust settled, our favorite beer during live blogging was the Samuel Adams Kosmic Mother Funk Grand Cru. Sam Adams debuted KMF Grand Cru at the Beer Bloggers Conference, and we are so thankful they did. This a small batch beer has been barrel aged 2 years, making it perfectly tart, with just a touch of sweetness and funk in all the right places. It was amazing. Coloradans’ mark your calendars, because KMF Grand Cru will be coming to Denver on a tasting tour the week of September 29th. You must seek it out.
The other amazing treat during love blogging was the Boardwalk Food Company beer bread. It was such a wonderful idea to give us a tasty treat in the middle of all the beer. The rosemary sea salt bread and lemon poppy-seed were table favorites, but honestly, they were all delicious. We can say that with authority because we tried them all, and would have polished off the whole tray if we could have just distracted the Boardwalk Food team. These Boardwalk Food Company bread mixes can be purchased online and made at home with your own beer, so you can buy some and bake them up at home. Then you can scarf them down like we did, not even remembering to take a photo until all that was left were these pretty paper reminders of the tasty bread samples.
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
Immediately after live blogging, we were on the bus, heading to Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens. This Liberty Station location of Stone is massive, inside and out. It’s impressive in size and beauty, and it’s really a must-stop place if you’re ever in the area. Here we hung out in a VIP area in the garden where we could choose from any beer at the bar, as well as some special beers being poured just for us. I remember the first beer we tasted, the Call It What You Want Hefeweizen that was cask conditioned with pineapple and coconut. It was wonderful, and we got to chat up the brewer Kris Ketchum about the beer and how amazing it must be to work at Stone. Kris, and all the Stone staff were incredibly friendly. Unfortunately from that point on Jeff and I both sort of stopped taking notes, and just enjoyed the experience. It was a beautiful day, we were surrounded by new friends, we nibbled on great food, and we just didn’t even worry about blogging. I guess that’s unfortunate since the whole point of this trip was improving our blog, but sometimes I think it’s more important to just take in the experience. Well done Stone, you made us stop paying attention and just enjoy ourselves. I’d say that’s a huge compliment.
After our time at Stone came to an end we were back to the hotel, but the drinking was far from over. There was a beer social where we tasted even more rare beers, such as the Goose Island Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout and Firestone Walker Parabola. Somehow we even ended up with a Molson in the mix, ha! To inspire us to use social media we also had a wall of tweets that became especially entertaining the longer the night wore on. It was a lot of fun mixing with our fellow bloggers and sharing even more incredible beers.
Last But Not Least, An Epic Bottle Share
Finally, after the beer social we had one more big bash to end the night: the bottle share. We’d each brought beer from home to share with our fellow bloggers, and given the incredible variety and uniqueness of the offerings made this one of the coolest parts of the entire conference. We tried beers from everywhere, some incredibly rare – and some just rare to us. It was great fun! We were way past note taking at this point, but here’s a slide show of some of the impressive offerings we had to choose from:
Because of poor planning on our part, we were heading out of San Diego early Sunday morning, so Saturday night’s bottle share was our last event of BBC14. We may have only missed a few sessions on Sunday, but they were ones we really hated to miss, like the blogger reports and cooperative blogging panel. We also missed out on some Sunday fun with our new friends who stuck around to explore San Diego. We won’t make that newbie mistake again.
2014 Beer Bloggers Conference: Final Thoughts
Overall this conference was more fun and informative than I’d ever expected. Not only did we learn a ton, but we made some new friendships that we hope to continue way after these blog posts are all finished. Next year the 2015 Beer Bloggers Conference will be in Asheville, North Carolina and we will be there for certain.
We would be remiss if we didn’t thank all our fellow bloggers for being so helpful and nice. Huge thanks also go to the sponsors for being so generous and helpful, and to Zephyr Adventures for putting this whole shindig together. We’ll see you in Asheville for #BBC15!