Beer Bloggers Conference Day 1: Opening Ceremonies

My second day in California, land of the low growing plants and palm trees. Seriously, out of all the things that stand out to me as an east-coaster, it’s the plant life that sticks out the most. Cactus and thick leaved plants grow as weeds, and they strike me as beautiful if for no other reason than they are unfamiliar to me.

However, the more important plant I should speak about now is humulus lupulus. Or more specifically, hops and barley. I checked into the Beer Bloggers Conference, and quickly navigated an array of different beers in front of me. Green Flash has fairly prominent distribution in Connecticut, and were offering the Road Warrior rye IPA as well as the Hop Odyssey white IPA. I went for the latter as my first beer of the conference. Nice and citrusy with a strong aroma of Amarillo and Simcoe hops, the white IPA went really great with the lunch offering of roasted pepper and steak tacos. I should mention now that tacos seem to be coming into play a lot on this trip. I actually ate them for every single meal on this day, and feel completely fine about that.

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My next beer was from the Belching Beaver Brewery, also in San Diego. I went for the peanut butter milk stout, which I was skeptical about initially. However, I was quickly proven that this beer was delicious after a single sip. The brewery representatives there were not willing to part with the secrets of how they perfected the peanut butter flavor, no matter how I pestered them. It truly is a dessert beer, and it tasted delicious with the churros I accompanied it with.

After lunch and opening greeting, it was time for the trade show, aka Beer Swag Central. My free coozie count is currently at 5, and I am hoping to continue to grow it as the weekend goes on. It was a great opportunity to hear from a few other brewery representatives. Standouts for me included Warfeiner’s Dunkel and Ballast Point’s Indra Kunindra, which is a stout brewed with curry, coconut, and other Indian deliciousness. It also has an octopus on the label.

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Julia Herz, of craftbeer.com, opened up the conference, encouraging a rally call amongst attendees that “what we do should make beer better”. She also discussed the most common questions she gets asked in media forums. I was not surprised, but still a little disappointed, to learn that “women in craft beer” is something people regularly ask about. As a woman who writes about and also brews beer…well, that’s a soapbox I’ll get on another time. Herz’s speech was definitely an encouraging way to kick off the conference, though. As a blogger, I felt somewhat empowered to think that the words I write and publish are a face of the craft beer world.

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Two panels took place after Herz’ speech; one on San Diego Craft Brewers, and another on beer blogging and branding with other companies. Since I know pretty much nothing about San Diego, that panel was very interesting to me. I was shocked that there was no beer being brewed in San Diego County between 1953 and 1987. Also that Stone actually had to struggle initially, self-distributing their beer and working hard to eventually become the first brewery in San Diego to have “brewed and bottled in San Diego County” printed on a bottle.

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The idea of breweries being com-patriots, as opposed to being competitors, really resonated with me as well. I thought that idea was fitting for beer bloggers, especially so after the next panel, where the Red Door marketing company discussed the power of bloggers working with brands. To be honest, I love meeting and learning about the different bloggers here. Much like new breweries popping up, each one has it’s own thing that makes it unique and worth reading.

I’ll be continuing to tweet, take pictures, and update this site throughout the weekend, so keep checking back and follow @nowbeerthis on all of those social media sites. Tomorrow I will be covering my brew trips to Karl Strauss and Stone World Gardens, so stay tuned!

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