"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
by those living in Colorado. Follow the author as he visits every brewery in the state, creates experimental homebrews,
attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Beer Bloggers Conference: Part 3

The Beer Bloggers Conference resumed at 9:30 Saturday morning but the festivities the night prior made Nicole and I’s on-time arrival a strong unlikelihood.  Thus, we missed the first session—a panel on the three-tier system of beer distribution—but word on the street is that it was a bit awkward what with certain panelist skirting tough questions.

The next session was on networking with breweries, distributors, and retailers.  Here are my main takeaways from the session:

·         Always tag the brewers in posts and tweets.  Stroke their ego and give credit where credit is due.  If bloggers get the brewer’s name out, they’ll feel more inclined to get our name out.  That is, if you’re not writing douche-y things about them.  When you need to criticize, do so tastefully—never nastily.
·         Ask for special treatment.  Yes, we as beer bloggers throw around a little more weight than the general drinking public and should thus be treated to certain perks.  
·         People in the business of craft beer should want to work with bloggers and give us special treatment.  We are their source of free advertisement; we are their biggest proponents.  In the words of one of the session’s more outspoken panelists, if somebody in the industry doesn’t want to work with bloggers then “f**k ‘em.”  It’s their loss.
·         Make friends with store owners.  If you get in good, they might advertise some of their beers with “As recommended by [your blog name]” or something of that ilk.
·         Be gracious with beer stores.  They can’t always get what you want so don’t throw a fit when they don’t have that ├╝ber-rare specialty beer you’ve been craving.  This was actually a bit incongruent with my personal experiences as one of my local bottle stores, Mondo Vino, has the opposite problem: they hound you and keep asking if there’s anything they don’t have that they can put on order for you.  But, I guess that’s just another reason why Colorado is the best state for beer—over-the-top friendly employees that want you to try as many different types of beer as possible.
·         Bloggers do more than support the craft beer industry, we educate the masses thus making it easier for brewers, bartenders, and store employees to do their jobs.  Thanks to bloggers, they can focus more on selling rather than bringing people up-to-speed on craft beer.  Sample questions that make industry people pull their hair out: “I don’t like dark beers like IPAs” or “I like Hefeweizens but I don’t like ales.”  If these phrases or phrases similar have ever escaped your lips, allow me to do my part as a beer blogger and school you so that those who make a living off of beer don’t have to roll their eyes at you.

Next was a session on international beers in the U.S.  Specifically, Pilsner Urquell since it was their American representatives leading the meeting.  First, they talked about Pilsner Urquell in general—about how it was among the first beers to be served in a clear glass so as to show-off its clarity and how they wish they had enough clout to convince the company’s higher-ups to do away with the skunky-beer-inducing green bottles.  They then transitioned into the influences American and non-American beers have on one another.  It’s not uncommon to see American breweries emulate the styles of Belgium but did you know that Belgium breweries have started making American-style IPAs?  That’s right, folks; American beer is no longer following in the footsteps of Europe, Europe is taking a cue from us!  The only problem, it seems, is that Europe is a butt-hurt continent; Belgians whine when we call our beer “Belgian-style” because they’re not technically Belgian.  “We don’t call our American-style IPAs ‘American-style’,” they say.  I say, “cram it, you waffle-munchers.”  American brewers are honoring the rich history of Belgian beer when they label their product “Belgian-style” and we’d appreciate some reciprocity, Jean-Claude Van Jerkwad.  

Samples (i.e. whole bottles) of Pilsner Urquell came next (plus free Pilsner Urquell glasses to take home) which I will not bore you with as it’s a ubiquitous beer you’ve almost certainly already had.  Petrus Aged Ale (7.3% ABV)—a Belgian sour beer that smells like champagne and finishes with persevering tartness—is a different story.  It’s a fantastic beer and, while the majority of the beers that splash over my palate are Coloradoan and the rest mainly from other parts of the U.S., I might consider letting this foreign interloper get more tongue-time in the future.

It was then time for a much needed lunch break so we closed our laptops, took the escalator to the upper-level conference rooms, and found ourselves at the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company-hosted lunch.
We began with a glass of their Hefeweizen before making our way to the circular tables scattered about the room.  We were served Summer Shandy with our first course—a salad—all the while being regaled with the history of Leinenkugel by a brewery rep who some found to be a bit too under-spoken but, personally, after the previous night’s carousing about town, a subdued, sedative speech was necessary.

The Hefeweizen and Summer Shandy were good, certainly, but rather ordinary and best enjoyed without a Y chromosome.  Then, however, they brought out the big guns: the Big Eddy series.  As we dined on exceptionally good chicken (for it being conference food, anyway), we drank Imperial IPA.  As we stuffed our faces with dessert, we drank Wee Heavy Scotch Ale.  Leinenkugel is a subsidiary of corporate giant SABMiller but one cannot deny the exquisiteness of Big Eddy.  Monstrously large brewing companies can still produce damn fine beer so long as they have detail-orientated brewers at their satellite facilities.

At the Leinenkugel lunch
Nicole and I snagged a few Big Eddy tulip glasses and bottles of Russian Imperial Stout, stopped by our room to drop off our haul, and prepared ourselves for one of the conference events I was most looking-forward to: the Spiegelau comparative beer and glass tasting session. 

But that will have to wait until the next post; I’ve said enough for this particular update.



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