"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 8, 2012

Beer Bloggers Conference: Part 4

My biggest complaint about the Beer Bloggers Conference is that there was scarcely a moment to catch one’s breath.  Immediately after the Leinenkugel lunch, Nicole and I’s hands were full of complimentary glassware, beers, and bottle openers and we desperately needed to put them somewhere.  Even though we were staying in the same hotel as the conference, we barely had enough time to go to our room, drop everything off, and get back for the next session. 

When we got back, we had a seminar on using pictures and video in blogs.  It’s great advice, certainly, but there are a few reasons why Beer in Colorado won’t be converting to video anytime soon.  For one, like many people, I hate hearing my voice on electronic devices.  In our skulls, our voices sound deep but, when we hear it played back electronically, we realize we’re actually at a higher pitch and much more nasally than expected.  Secondly, I think video is a crutch for sub-par writers.  As an English major, I like to think that I write in a manner more entertaining than Average Joe blogger; I like to think you’re enthralled with the written word.  Maybe I’m wrong but, for the meantime, I’m operating on that conjecture.

Then it was time for the session I was looking forward to most: Comparative Beer and Glass Tasting with Spiegelau.  I’m patting myself on the back when I say I was slightly ahead of the curve when it came to this particular seminar but it’s the truth; I had slightly more knowledge of proper beer glassware than the majority of the room.  When I mentioned off-handedly that I was excited for the Spiegelau tasting I received looks that nonverbally said Really?  You’re excited about glassware? to which I shot back an expression implying Yeah?  You don’t know how good these glasses are or how bad pint glasses are? which was countered with a visage suggesting the thought I’m still dubious but my interest has been piqued due to your enthusiasm.  I will come into the session with a more open mind than I previously would have.  By the way, did you catch the game last night? 

Left to right: tall Pilsner, lager, wheat beer glass, and stemmed Pilsner.  And the "Joker" in the bottom left.

The Spiegelau rep began with a (too) lengthy explanation about why glassware matters.  Thin, tightly compacted glass is key to holding carbonation and an even temperature; cheap, porous glass seeps out temperature and carbonation like a sieve.  The thinness of the glass and the unique lip of Spiegelau also allows for the beer to bypass the tip of the tongue and splash directly in the middle of the palate; in comparison, a pint inundates the mouth with a deluge and the body’s natural reaction is to lift the tongue and block the intrusion thus the beer is delivered under the tongue rather than on top.  The bulbous silhouette of Spiegelau also does much to trap aroma and, because aroma and flavor are so closely tied, enhance flavor.

I was engrossed with the demonstration but I could tell by the Beer Bloggers Twitter feed that some of my compatriots where tired of talk and ready to slam some beers.  That time finally came when Garrett Oliver and the hotel staff passed out several Brooklyn Brewery bottles—one for each of the specifically designed glasses:  stemmed Pilsner, tall Pilsner, lager, and wheat beer glass.  Oh, and one “joker”—a standard pint—which we used as a point of comparison.

In short, pint glasses suck.  Spiegelau is expensive but phenomenal and worth the price.  It makes one wonder how many first-time beer drinkers might have been turned-off to the drink simply because it was served in inferior glassware.  “All beer tastes the same,” some critics say and I say, “you just need to drink a good beer in an appropriate glass.”  Pints are great for display purposes but, when it comes to putting beer to lips, Spiegelau (or a similar brand lest you accuse me of “being sold”) is the only way to go.  We went home with complimentary Spiegelau to match match we already had back home.

A final note on the Spiegelau session: the atmosphere got a wee bit uncomfortable from time to time what with both Oliver, headbrewer at Brooklyn, and the Spiegelau rep being in the same room.  We’d pour a splash into the standard pint, sniff it, sip it, and the man from Spiegelau would say something along the lines of, “See how terrible that smells and tastes?  Uh, not that the beer is bad or anything.”  Oliver would usually reply with a line implying, “Yeah, yeah, dude; I know what you’re getting at.  Just relax.”

After Spiegelau we were beginning to run late which was unfortunate because the Indiana Microbrewers Festival was next and I knew that some of my childhood friends were already there drinking all the beer.  We loaded the buses too slow and the ride to the festival grounds was downright snail-like but we finally arrived at what appeared to be a pitiful excuse for a beer festival: two tents?  We soon realized, however, that those two tents were blocking the view to the rest of the festival which was surprisingly massive.  All the more reason I wish we would have arrived on time; there was much to explore.

The author & his friend since kindergarten (I'm not referring to the beer this time).
Nicole and I teamed up with my friends and went searching for great beer.  The festival offered more than Hoosier beer but, true to my motto “Drink Local,” we bee-lined for the Indiana section.  My friends are beer lovers in that they love to drink beer—even craft beer—but none are truly beer geeks.  For that reason, I was the designated expert explaining what can be expected from each beer style plus a brief history lesson to go along with it.  It’s something I’m glad to do; when the conversation turns to beer I’ll bend your ear like a pair of pliers. 

Too soon it was time to load up the buses and leave but the night’s fun wasn’t over, not by a long shot.  Stay tuned for more from the Beer Bloggers Conference including our private tour of World Class Beer and *gulp* Night of Many Bottles.



I am not sure how video blogging would necessarily fit into our beer blog. Maybe we could post videos teaching our readers about different styles or how to properly pour and assess beer? But, like Chris, I don’t like hearing my own voice. I am perfectly happy using pictures to tell a story.

The most memorable part of the video blogging seminar was the icebreaker the main panelist told at the beginning. He described a conversation he had with his buddy about teenage daughters and dating. His buddy had the solution to keeping boys’ hands off their little girls.  I can’t repeat it as it’s a bit inappropriate but the audience laughed hysterically [Hint: don’t pick up the soap ~ Chris].

I knew the Spiegelau presentation would demonstrate how proper glassware makes beer taste better but what I didn’t realize was that we would be drinking five beers: Sorachi Ace, Brooklyner Wheat, East India Pale Ale, Local 2, and Black Ops. Each of these beers (three of them bomber bottles) was to be shared between two people.  We neared the end of the Spiegelau demonstration, my vision was started to blur, and we still had two hours of beer festival to come!

The beer festival was a whirlwind. I only remember a few of the breweries and a few of the beers. The majority of the crowds were at the big breweries’ tents so we stuck to sampling the little guys. One of those small breweries was Backroad Brewery where I had a blueberry wheat. I find many blueberry beers to be overpowering but this one was subtle yet flavorful. We also tried beer from Iechyd Da Brewing Company The name comes from the Welsh word for cheers or good luck. Yeah, good luck pronouncing that one.

The two hours that we were there felt like minutes. As we made our way back to the bus, Chris stopped for a couple of photo ops. Aboard the bus, we munched on some Cape Cod potato chips and Helluva Good! dip as we made our way to our next destination. Try some chips and the Jalapeño Cheddar the next time you sip your favorite IPA.


No sign can tell me what to do!

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