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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BrewTravels: San Diego, CA (BBC14 Part 1)

I find the best way to explore new cities is to start off with a beer in my hand. That is what I wanted as soon as I stepped off the plane, traveling from the east coast to San Diego, California. I arrived a day early for the Beer Bloggers’ Conference so I could explore the city on my own a bit ahead of time.

It’s amazing how saving money will cause me to go out of my comfort zone. Not wanting to pay for a $27 cab ride from the airport, and realizing that hotel was not as close as I realized, I decided to navigate the public transit system. and won! The bus line runs 24 hours and was much easier than I expected and I felt somewhat less touristy. The trolley was simple as well. After I salivated all over the bus looking at tons of taco joints, I checked into my hotel and planned the rest of my day. I originally set out for Seaport Village, but hunger for sustenance in my belly and liver won over and I stopped in the Knotty Barrel on Market Street. A nice little bar with outdoor seating and an indoor shuffleboard table, happy hour had just started so I decided on a beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts and a nice big lump of beer cheese (made with Allagash Black) with pretzel bread. What made me really happy was that I had not had OR heard of many of the beers on the menu.

I started off with a Grazias Cream Ale from Hess Brewing. Malty deliciousness, it reminded me of those Vienna finger cookies I used to devour when I was a kid. A nice simple style that went well with the bread and cheese.

My next pint was from Acoustic Ales, another San Diego brewery. I enjoyed their Shake Your Money Maker Brown chatting about New Haven with not one but TWO people sitting on either side of me. It’s funny how you can go all the way to the other end of the country and bump into people who lived in New Haven.

I never actually made it to Seaport Village, although there are still a few more days if I really want to. I ended up spending my paycheck before it got direct-deposited throughout the Gaslamp Quarter. As a brewer, bartender, and audio engineer, I work with my hands a lot. So nail polish isn’t something that sees my nails a lot. But a few beers deep and no plans to wash dishes until Tuesday, I decided I needed a manicure from the ladies at Va-Va-Varnish. It was a great little space and if I had more time, more cash, and longer nails I would have considered more of their services.

I also did some shopping for non-beer related merchandise since I figured I’d spend more than enough on beer in the coming days. Lots of interesting shops, but I am still on a quest for a coozie to add to my collection.

I’ll be at the Beer Bloggers’ Conference until Sunday, so check in on here for my daily recaps, as well as drunken/witty posts on Twitter, beer porn on Instagram, and the beers that I remember to check into on Untappd. All under @nowbeerthis.