"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, October 23, 2013

Great American Beer Festival 2013

Saturday night session attendees start to pour in
There’s no convincing me that Denver is anything less than the greatest beer city in America.  While “greatest” may technically be a qualitative, unsubstantiated designation, in my mind, it’s a scientific conclusion.  On many levels, Denver ties for greatest beer city; there are other cities with as many (or more) breweries, there are other cities that have renowned, influential breweries, and there are other cities that have their public image tied-in with beer.  It’s all give and take; where one city lacks, another excels thus presenting a dead heat.  Until, of course, you consider the tie-breaking element which shatters the “everybody’s a winner!” mentality like a beer bottle in a bar brawl: the biggest selection of American craft beer in the world, the Super Bowl of brewing competitions, the envy of all other beer cities, Great American Beer Festival (GABF)!

San Diego, Portland, Asheville,…etc.: you can crow all you want about your beer scene and, honestly, I agree; you all have wonderful beer.  Nonetheless, if you want to prove yourself to the beer-drinking nation, you got to come to Denver—to GABF!  Here are a few highlights from the most epic beer festival to grace this earth.

·         It has become my custom in recent years to attend both the Thursday and Saturday night sessions.  Thursday is essentially the Saturday afternoon members-only session except with non-members: people are a little more serious about the craft, they’re there to talk, sip, and savor fine beer, and there’s much less puking, shoving, and yelling “Oooooooh!” every time somebody drops a plastic tasting cup on the concrete floor.  Saturday, on the other hand, is composed mostly of people that give beer geeks a bad name: machismo frat bros, skanky-looking girls, and people slamming craft beer with complete disregard to the art and history that went behind its creation.  Thursday is for beer geeks, Saturday is for beer chuggers, and I find the dichotomy of the two nights endlessly fascinating.

·         Since Nicole and I received media passes, we were admitted early entrance.  During the Saturday night session, as our friends waited in line outside, we witnessed a very different GABF than most people are used to seeing: the transition from one session to another.  The members-only session had ended and the convention center staff and GABF volunteers where frantically cleaning up the place—picking up broken glass, mopping vomit, and riding their Zamboni-esque vacuum cleaners—only to have it befouled again once the Saturday night attendees arrived.  It’s an unearthly experience too see GABF so quiet, un-crowded, and well lit.  It’s like a ghost town; the booths are all set-up and ready but there’s nobody jostling for a sample.  Eerie.    
·         One piece of advice I can impart upon a GABF newbie is that, if you’re looking to sample from a popular brewery, move fast!  I’m native to Indiana and, on the Thursday session, I really wanted to try some Hoosier-made beers.  While I didn’t necessarily rush to get to Three Floyds Brewing Co., I didn’t put it off until the end of the night, either.  Yet, amazingly, all of their beers were tapped out within 90 minutes of the doors opening!  We managed to get a few tastes very early Saturday night but, if you’re only attending one session, plan your time accordingly.  

·         Each year, I find one or two standout beers from the most inconspicuous of breweries.  This year, my hat goes off to Very Nice Brewing Company in Nederland, CO and their Greener’s Gruit Ale.  Gruit ales—hop-less beers of Scottish origin that balance the sweetness of malts with herbs and spices such as rosemary, berries, and spruce—are a rare find in the famously hop-headed U.S.  It makes a Colorado beer geek proud to see such a niche style being made at a tiny brewery in a secluded mountain town; most breweries of Very Nice’s size and location wouldn’t bother with such esoteric beers but, in Colorado, everybody’s an adventurous brewer.  Quick history lesson: it’s not just gruits, most beers from Scotland have little to no hops.  Why?  Even though contemporary Scotland and England are both under the U.K. umbrella, the two regions share a bloody history (remember Braveheart?) and the centuries-old conflict has left residual resentment.  In England, hops are prolific while Scotland’s northern climate prevents any such crop from growing meaning that, if a brewery in Scotland wanted hops, they had to do business with the English.  A traditional Scottish brewer would refuse to “taint” his beer with the plants from those minky basturts down south.

·         I noticed that Sixpoint Brewery was in attendance and—cheeky S.O.B.s—they brought Righteous Ale; the beer for which they gave Renegade Brewing Company so much headache (click here for the story).  I had to give it a try, see what the fuss was all about.  I walked up to the booth, bit my tongue hard as the brewery rep poured my sample, and gave it a sip.  I’m not just saying this because I think the Sixpoint executive team is composed of a bunch of d-bags, I actually, truly, honestly think that their Righteous Ale is swill when compared to the once similarly-named IPA from Renegade. 
·         I’m a fan of sour beers and, as a proud German-American, I like to get my hands on a good Berliner Weisse whenever possible.  As much as I love Berliner Weisse, I’ve never had it the true Berlin way: with Himbeere (raspberry syrup) or Waldmeister (woodruff syrup) to cut the acidic tartness.  Woodfour Brewing Company let me experience what I’ve been missing out on all these years.  While they didn’t have woodruff, they had a squirt bottle of raspberry syrup which they put in the glass prior to pouring the beer.  It’s an interesting way to drink a Berliner Weisse and not altogether unpleasant but, if I order a sour beer then, dammit, I want it to be sour!  The syrup is a cool gimmick but I’ll take my beer straight, thank you very much.  

·         To give myself a plan rather than wander aimlessly about the convention center, I tweeted out to the world asking for recommendations from each region of the United States.  It is, of course, the Great American Beer Festival and I wanted to know the best of the best in each corner of the nation.  I came fairly close to tasting all the recommendations and, while I won’t be specific, some folks are lucky to live near such fantastic beer.  In regards to the other folks, well, if that’s the best beer from your area then, good God, your craft beer scene has some catching up to do.

Cool German/Colorado hybrid; I wish they were das Boot-sized, though

·         GABF is more than just a giant tasting event, it’s also a competition.  I admit, I put very little credence into beer judging; I think people’s palates vary too widely for anybody to say with any certainty that one beer is better than another.  That said, I still like gloating over how Colorado is better than everybody else so here’s a few quick statistics from the 2013 GABF results.  Including all medals (gold, silver, and bronze), California won the most with 52, Colorado was second with 46, and Oregon was third with 25.  If you only count gold medals, however, Colorado is first with 19, California is second with 16, and Oregon is third with 10.  Celebrate your 36 silvers and bronzes all you want, Cali, it just means you came in second and third a lot.  Colorado focused on the medal that really counts; we have the most champions!  It’s said that it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality, but, with more gold medals than any other state, Colorado actually has the highest quantity of quality. 
Some beers run out quicker than others
And so another GABF has come and gone, the out-of-towners have shuffled home, and Denver is in detox mode.  It’s always a bit of a let-down, the days following GABF, like the day after Christmas; there’s a big build-up and then, suddenly, nothing.  There’s frantic activity followed immediately by the calm.  It’s depressing.  However, that depression is easily overcome in America’s best beer city, where beer festivals are as common as BBQ in Kansas City, Taxis in New York, or mopey musicians in Seattle.  GABF is over but the beer still flows!  I’ll see you at the next event, Denver.



This year was the third time I attended GABF; the first year was overwhelming, the second year I mapped out the must-have beers to better utilize my time, and this year I concentrated on pumpkin beers.  When people in our group scattered about the room to find their next sample, I walked from booth to booth, read the signs, searching for new pumpkin beers (or old ones I already knew I liked).  Occasionally, I’d try a sour, an IPA (usually only if I liked the name), or something experimental and reminiscent of a holiday dessert.  Two of my favorite beers of GABF come from Ohio’s Rivertown Brewing Company meaning that, unfortunately, I can only find them at GABF or on a summer road trip.  I lover their Roebling Imperial Robust Porter which tastes like a fudgy brownie topped with vanilla ice cream as well as their Pumpkin Ale.  I enjoy a good dessert so it only makes sense that I would like these sweet, decadent beers.  Along those lines, another stand-out was the Gingerbread Stout from Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co.  I think I had five or six samples of this beer alone; I enjoyed it that much.

I’d like to give a shout-out to Weasel Boy Brewing Company in Zanesville, OH—my godfather’s hometown.  I tasted their Snow Ermine Honey Vanilla Porter just so I could tell him I had a beer from his hometown.  It tasted like Christmas in a glass and I had to get several re-fills because I don’t know the next time I’ll pass through Zanesville.

One of my favorite breweries for pumpkin beers is Elysian Brewing Co., from Seattle.  They brought Dark O’ the Moon which puts a very spicy, cinnamon-y twist on the pumpkin beer style.  The next time I pick up this beer, I’m using it to make homemade chocolate ice cream.

It wouldn’t be GABF without some of the most popular, domestic beers.  Until this year, I had never tried Coors Banquet and, to keep with the macrobrewery theme, I also had some Miller High Life and Budweiser.  I’m not going to buy these beers so I might as well sample them when they’re available; they’re still good for Untappd credits. 


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Boston Beer Bloggers Conference: Part 8

After Live Beer Blogging, we, the Beer Bloggers Conference (BBC) crew, re-boarded our coaches and set-off for Boston’s second most famous brewery (Boston Beer Company AKA Sam Adams being number one): Harpoon Brewery.  On a side note, you really get a feel for the erratic, zig-zaggy roads of Boston when, after quite a few drinks, you attempt to use the bathroom on a moving bus.  Fear not, my aim was spot on.

The gates at Harpoon represent the ingredients of das Reinheitsgebot; here you see hops and yeast


Pulling into Harpoon’s parking lot, we were besieged by local belligerents as they shouted and pounded on the side of our vehicle but we shrugged off the quarrelsome herd of Southies and walked over to the brewery tour entrance where we were greeted with tasters of Imperial White IPA, a beer brewed specially for BBC; attendees voted ahead of time on four possible beer styles and this particular style won.  It wasn’t the beer for which I voted but having a beer brewed just for me and my blogging friends still made me feel like a king.  Harpoon also served giant pretzel sticks with mustard so spicy it cleared my sinuses as if they were scooped out by a spoon.
Harpoon Brewery
When we began our tour of the Harpoon brewing area, I was pleased to discover it was a self-guided tour; we could walk through at our own pace.  Personally, that was a relief because, once again, I had to take a leak (hey, I drank a lot of beer, okay?) and the last thing I needed was a tour guide droning on as I did the potty-dance in the back of the crowd.  Besides that, I think everybody at BBC has done their fair share of brewery tours.  We know the rundown.  Perhaps I’m jaded but most brewery tours are pretty well identical; I could host a brewery tour—any brewery tour—as expertly as anybody on the payroll and so, too, could the rest of the attendees.  Not to say I’m ever unimpressed when on the brewing floor of a large brewery; the sheer size of the equipment is always awe-inspiring.  However, at this point in my beer geek life, I’m content simply taking in the sights as I breeze on by. 
Can collection at Harpoon; notice any classic Colorado beers?
We winded around the tanks and kettles, walked through the back offices, and, after giving a clearly inebriated customer a high-five, were admitted into Harpoon’s tasting room, half of which was roped off for BBC’s exquisite beer pairing dinner including BBQ chicken, a huge chunk of hard cheese, and Harpoon beers IPA, Rich & Dan’s Rye IPA, Dark, UFO White, UFO Raspberry, Midsummer Fling, and Black IPA.  The meal was filling, expertly paired, and worthy of a fine restaurant.  That’s not the type of praise you usually associate with conference food but BBC does it right! 

As we got our grub on, Nicole and I chatted with our favorite Cincinnati-area beer bloggers, the Hoperatives, and, as we left Harpoon, Nicole stopped to buy a shirt where we witnessed a piece of machinery, several thousand dollars in price, automatically filling customers’ growlers.  Apparently, Massachusetts liquor laws are a bit Draconian and growlers cannot be filled by hand thus necessitating a robotic bartender.  Colorado brewery owners, count your blessings that you’re not saddled with such ridiculous legislation.
More of the can collection
Beers at the Harpoon dinner
Harpoon dinner
Harpoon dinner
Really expensive growler filler
Last on the agenda for Saturday night: Beer Social in the hotel conference room.  Beer Social was basically a substitute for Night of Many Bottles, a beer festival by and for beer bloggers.  Attendees bring the best, rarest beers from their respective region and share them with the rest of the group.  It’s basically Great American Beer Festival but smaller and more interesting because the participating beers are chosen by the people.  Unfortunately, this year, the hotel’s corking fee was exorbitant thus killing the spirit of Night of Many Bottles.  Beer Social was, for the most part, the Trade Show all over again: commercial sponsors pouring their own beers.  A few highlights from Beer Social:

·         Prior to Beer Social, Zack and I did a little bottle swapping.  I gave him Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, some Funkwerks, and a little bit of Elevation Beer Co. while I received Beer Advocate’s #1 rated Heady Topper from The Alchemist, Honeydew from Night Shift Brewing, and a beer Nicole and I will be saving for July 7th, 2014: Brewlywed Ale from Boston Beer Company.  All in all, a very fair trade, I think.
Zack and I making our trades
·         Surprisingly, many registered BBC attendees never showed up and, at the Beer Social, all their name tags were laid out on a table as if they might miraculously show up at the last minute.  One of those name tags stood out amongst the rest both because of the highlighted yellow words and because of the name being highlighted: Jim Koch.  What?  Was he supposed to be at Beer Social but didn’t show?  Damn, that would have been cool!  I briefly met him the day before but it would have been so much more fun to hang with him in a more informal situation. 
Grapefruit Jungle
·         It didn’t take long for attendees to start breaking the rules; within about ten minutes of the start of Beer Social, people were already opening and sharing beers they brought from their hometown.  Well, hell; if I knew that was going to happen I would have brought a butt-load more bottles!  No matter, I don’t mind mooching off other people’s beer.  Nicole and a few other people were sent on a mission to accrue plastic bags full of ice to keep everything chilled.
·         As a Hoosier-born beer geek, I tout the beers of Indiana to nearly the same extent as the beers of Colorado.  That’s why I was super-psyched to see Tamre brought Sun King Brewery’s Grapefruit Jungle, an IPA for which I’ve been hunting.  Thank you, Tamre, for helping me knock one off the wish list and doubly thank you because that beer earned me the “Legendary” badge on Untappd!  500 unique beers!  Not as impressive as the1,000 beer badge BrewDad received at last year’s conference but still a notable achievement.

Good times at Beer Social
Good times at Beer Social
Nice spread at Beer Social
Repping Colorado at Beer Social
Dammit, I wish he would have shown!
That, for the most part, was the end of BBC for Nicole and me.  There were a few more presentations in the morning for which we stuck around but, since we had a schedule to keep, we snagged a few leftover Beer Social bottles and left the conference a tad early.  The memories, however, will forever be cherished.  This was only our second BBC and we already feel as if we're a part of a special family of beer geeks and I very much look forward to seeing my new friends at future conferences and other national beer events (Great American Beer Festival, anybody?)

There was still time to enjoy our vacation even as we drove back home to Colorado.  Nicole and I squeezed in one more amusement park visit at Cedar Point where we rode their newest roller coaster, GateKeeper, and, following that, we stayed at my parents’ house in Indiana for a few days.  While in Indiana, we visited Mad Anthony Brewing Company and sampled a beer brewed with a hop variety so new it doesn't even have a name yet but is said to have a watermelon-like flavor plus a beer called “Harry Baals.”  Then, continuing westward, we stayed the night in Kansas City and stopped in for a brew at 75th Street Brewery (awesome patio space but, when you live in Colorado where cigarettes are highly regulated, it’s a shock to the system when you’re in a place not so regulated and find yourself surrounded by veritable human chimneys).
75th Street

Finally, after crossing the grand prairies of Kansas and eastern Colorado, under popcorn clouds and bluebird skies, as hazy, white-tipped peaks played peek-a-boo from beyond the horizon, we arrived in Denver.  We drove through 13 states, we drank at 11 breweries, we saw pieces of America we’ve never seen, and we had a road trip worthy of a Jack Kerouac novel.  It was a journey neither of us will soon forget.  Still, after all our experiences and after all our adventures, nothing compares to Colorado—my home, my solace, my beer mecca.



Friday, October 4, 2013

Boston Beer Bloggers Conference: Part 7

After lunch, the next item on the Beer Bloggers Conference (BBC) agenda was Social Media Best Practices presented by Tamre Mullins, a fellow Hoosier beer geek Nicole and I met at the Indy BBC and again during this year’s OneAmerica Mini-Marathon.  The highpoints of her presentation (based on my Twitter feed) were as follows:
Live Beer Blogging at Burke Distribution
Hey, look; it's @tamremullins on the stage! #BBC13
Well, it was her on stage and I got excited for a friend; so sue me.  Besides, by my posting this tweet, you know her Twitter handle and can now follow her.

Content is king. That's how you get social media followers. #BBC13
A pretty logo and eye-catching front page are nice but you have to keep the audience engaged if you want them to keep coming back.  Don’t expect to float by on fluff material alone; you have to give your readers something they can sink their teeth into.

@tamremullins Wait, how are you updating as you're presenting? Who stole Tamre's phone?
Tamre’s Twitter account was updating as she was giving her presentation.  My caveman-like brain was befuddled by this revelation.

Be a page, not a profile (on Facebook, that is). #BBC13
I’m fairly certain that Beer in Colorado is a page on Facebook and not a profile so I should be in the clear in this regards.

Caption contests up the engagement. #BBC13
Post a photo on Facebook and ask the audience to caption it.  Add a survey to your page.  Ask questions.  Do whatever you have to do to get people to interact because that interaction fosters engagement which, in turn, ensures both repeat readers and new readers.

STILL not getting a Google Plus. #BBC13
I’m just not doing it, okay?  Call me stubborn but I think I’m getting by on the blog, Facebook, and Twitter just fine.

Google Authorship? Okay, that one actually sounds pretty cool. #BBC13
I totally forget what Google Authorship is but it obviously tickled my fancy at the time.

This tweet's life is short. #BBC13
In some ways, Facebook and Twitter are complete opposites.  On Facebook, you really ought to post once as people get downright agitated if you flood their newsfeed with the same article over and over again.  On Twitter, however, you have to post and re-post because, once you’re on somebody’s feed, you’re almost instantly pushed to the bottom.  Don’t be afraid to bombard your Twitter followers because your comments don’t have much of a shelf life.   

Because it’s annoying and it makes you look like a tool.

Share your experiences. We live pretty awesome lives and people are interested in us. #BBC13
We really do, don’t we?  The life of a beer blogger is mighty sweet so why not let the world live vicariously through you?

The big screen at Live Beer Blogging (and my sage advice)
After Tamre’s spiel, we were off to Burke Distributing/Massachusetts Beverage Alliance, a beer distribution warehouse, to engage in BBC’s signature event: Live Beer Blogging.  Live Beer Blogging is when brewery reps pitch their beer and bloggers then drink it and write a quick review all in the span of about five minutes.  During the process, our tweets were projected on a big screen amidst the loading docks.  If you were there, you would have read my Untappd/Twitter posts that said:

Little hippy [sic] but not uber bitter. Goes down easy. Sessionable as the name implies.
Smells like cinnamon and tastes lightly tart. #BBC13
Smells a little sweet and flowery. Mild hop bitterness. #BBC13
Newest in RI, soon to be largest. No discernable hop aroma but present in taste. #BBC13
Some spiced aroma but spices REALLY show up in flavor. #BBC13
Tasty! Sorry, my reviews are getting less detailed. #BBC13
Best one yet. Very sweet and complex. #BBC13
Good hefe but not necessarily getting the blood orange flavor. Maybe a little. Maybe. #bbc13
Bourbon aged and it definitely shows. #BBC13
No, THIS is the best of the night! #BBC13

The last one, Ever Weisse, was indeed the best at Live Beer Blogging and we almost didn’t get to taste it!  There were too many breweries at Burke to go around—each table of beer bloggers only experienced a portion of the brewery reps’ wares.  When the Live Beer Blogging was officially over and when we realized Night Shift Brewing wasn’t going to make it to our table, a fellow blogger grabbed the rep by the shirt sleeve, pulled him to our table, and asked him kindly but firmly to continue the live beer blogging session if only for our table.  I’m glad our table was so pushy, that tart, fruity ale is the stuff beer geek dreams are made of!  Seriously, one of the best beers I’ve had; probably top 20, at least.

Burke Distribution is a warehouse—not exactly a tourist destination—which would explain the paltry amount of bathrooms.  With several busloads of beer-drinkers all in the same space, that proved to be a problem thus prompting me to post this on the big screen:

Find a semi trailer, boys; free the pissah up for the ladies. That's my version of chivalry. #BBC13

Indeed, the event organizers told the guys to just go outside and whiz between trucks; we were out in an industrial zone—we weren’t going to offend any random passersby.  If everybody waited for that single-stall toilet, half of us would still be there today.

After carousing with the beer reps and after Nicole sweet-talked her way into acquiring a free bomber of Fatty Bampkins Maine Hard Cider, we re-boarded the buses, enjoyed some more of Zack’s famous bus beer, and headed to our next destination.  



Nicole and I at Live Beer Blogging

Nicole and I at Live Beer Blogging (that's our new pal Zack in the yellow)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Boston Beer Bloggers Conference: Part 6

The joys of living at 5,280’—you can guzzle gallons of suds and wake up fresh as an autumn-released IPA when visiting cities at sea-level!  Even though I drank my own weight in beer, I awoke groggy from lack of sleep but, otherwise, ready and raring to tackle Day 2 of the Beer Bloggers Conference (BBC).

Menu for Day 2's lunch
At 9:30am, BBC attendees congregated in the Terrace Room of the Boston Park Plaza and settled in for the first presentation: Current State of Beer Blogging Survey Results.  Prior to BBC, attendees completed a survey covering aspects such as demographics, blog monetization, and a whole host of other data points.  When at BBC, Twitter is the de facto note-taking instrument thus I present to you my rough draft notes bolstered with additional comments:

Why do we blog about #beer? Because we love beer, of course. #BBC13 #Boston
The survey question was in regards to the impetus in being a beer blogger.  For the most part, it wasn’t for fame or money but rather for the love of beer.  We’re passionate about the subject matter and we wish to exalt its greatness.  If we accrue perks through our writing that’s great but it’s not what motivates us as beer bloggers. 

87% of beer bloggers use Twitter. I'm living proof! #BBC13 #Boston 
For the life of me, I do not understand the point of a personal Twitter account.  As a business or as a blogger it makes sense because 140 characters is really only enough for advertising, it’s not enough for a decent conversation.  In spite of its shortcomings, personal Twitter accounts abound and, because I want people to read my blog, I, like 87% of beer bloggers, use Twitter.
I'm still not getting a Google Plus. #BBC13 #Boston
The presenter was lauding the wonders of Google+ and, based on other comments I saw floating around on Twitter, I’m quite positive the BBC crowd wasn’t buying it any more than I.  While it may seem ironic for me to proclaim this over a blog (and in a blog mentioning my use of Twitter), I’m a bit of a Luddite—I’m slow to adopt new advances in technology.  Hell, I still had a flip-phone up until last December!  I don’t want to keep jumping to and from the “next big thing” in social media, I just want to write.  Besides, it would take the ultimate PR campaign to convince me that Google+ is even the “next big thing.”

Get your face out there! People want to click all over it. #BBC13 #Boston
A little advice slipped into the presentation.  Readers are more willing to click your link if there’s a face attached to it; it makes for a more human connection and it draws in more people.

Fewer posts the more you blog? Quality > quantity AND u already have your audience so it's less important to keep blasting out posts #BBC13
Seasoned bloggers post less often than newbies.  Like I said in the Twitter post, it’s probably because the fan base has been built and it’s no longer necessary to build one’s presence.  It is, however, important to have quality posts.  It makes sense, then, that veteran bloggers would spend more time polishing their articles thus resulting in fewer overall posts.

Blog to book? Interested. Of course, somebody already did a book about visiting all the breweries in #Colorado. Always new ones, tho #BBC13
What’s the next step after starting a successful blog?  Perhaps it’s publishing a print version.  Ed Sealover already authored the book I wanted to write but, with the ever-growing Colorado beer scene, it’s quickly becoming outdated.  Maybe it’s time somebody brought it up to speed.  Well, it’s something for me to ponder, anyway.
Crab Cake
Edit, edit, edit your beer blog; it looks more professional. I flip a lid when I catch my own typos in a published post #BBC13
A little more advice sprinkled in for good measure.  It should go without saying but read and re-read what you’ve written.  If it looks like crap, your audience will assume it is crap.  Make it look nice.

There was a lot more to the presentation and I encourage you to check out the results for yourself (click here).   

Our next presentation was the Panel of Industry Beer Bloggers:

Cambria from @TheBruery talking now at #BBC13. I've been to the brewery. Will never forget it b/c the town it's in sounds like "Placenta."

Don't have a title at your job? Make one up. #BBC13
Don’t just say, “I work for Blah Blah Blah Brewery.”  Say, “I’m the Social Media Ninja Czar for Blah Blah Blah Brewery!”

The breweries WILL make time for bloggers but you still have to ask; let them know you're in town. #BBC13 
Beer bloggers make the craft beer industry go ‘round.  You rarely see a craft beer commercial on TV, in the newspaper, or on a billboard; for the most part, it’s social media that gets the word out.  Craft breweries know this to be true; they want you to write about them and you want the behind-the-scenes skinny so don’t be shy about asking for special treatment.  It’s a win-win for all involved. 
Skirt Steak
Breweries LOVE vocal criticism of their business? Well, okay; not sure I'm buying it, though. #BBC13 
I think this might be personal opinion more than general truth but one of the presenters said he loves it when people slam his brewery in public; it gives him a chance to calmly and respectfully  placate the complainer in an open forum.  This looks good for the brewery and makes the complainer feel like a douche because they griped when their emotions were high and their sense of reason was low.

Drunk guy: "I'm never going to drink Dale's Pale again!" Brewery rep: "Yeah, you probably will." Who can resist the allure? #BBC13 
Going along with the previous comment, breweries don’t take every complaint seriously.  You can’t please 100% of the public so don’t even try.  If you have a complaint, it would behoove you to make sure it’s legitimate or else you'll simply be taken for an a-hole. 

Local Bible-thumpers near the N. Carolina @oskarblues think the brewery is full of drugs, gambling, and prostitutes. I wish. #BBC13
This was just a funny anecdote told during the presentation.  It sure makes me glad I live in Colorado and not the Bible Belt.

How do you differentiate yourself from other bloggers? Just make it personal; keep it close to the heart & it'll attract attention #BBC13 
I think we do this quite well; this blog is as much a personal travel journal as it is a beer blog.  At Beer in Colorado you hear about Nicole and I’s entire journey, not just the time spent in breweries. 

I'm drinking a Dale's Pale Ale from @oskarblues. Respond, Anne-Fitten Glenn, respond! #BBC13
This tweet was sent as a joke.  The Oskar Blues rep said not to be offended if every brewery doesn’t respond to every comment you make about them.
Boston Cream Pie
Wanna be a hard cider blogger? The demographic is growing; be a part of the movement. @WoodchuckCider #BBC13
Through personal observation, it seems that most beer people are not wine people but most beer people are cider people (I guess cider is technically a wine but you get the point).  I don’t know why this is but it appears to be the truth.  In light of the numerous beer blogs, why not tread into more unknown territory and take a crack at cider blogging?  It seems to be a beverage on the rise.

The last presentation before lunch was Mechanics of Beer Pouring presented by Heineken and demonstrated by company rep Franck Evers.  Essentially, this was a lesson on how to properly pour beer which most beer geeks have a pretty good handle on (granted, beer seems so much fancier when the bartender uses a blade to swipe off the excess foam but I’m unconvinced that it’s a necessary measure).  However, I would like to mention something Franck said about his boss at Heineken (if I remember correctly, it was actually the owner of Heineken); the boss said he takes it personally when somebody criticizes his beer.  He gets torn up about it, he gets mad, he gets stressed-out.  I found that comment quite telling.  If you recall, a small brewery rep said he loves hearing criticism and takes great joy in calming people down and showing them their complaints are unwarranted.  The small breweries are loosey-goosey, fun-loving, and confident that, despite a few dissenters, they have a great product that most people really enjoy.  The macrobreweries, on the other hand, are stiff as a gardening glove that’s been left in the sun for three days and as joyless as a schoolmarm.  Is that the crucial difference between craft beer and macro beer?  To get metaphysical, is it at all possible that the attitude of the brewer and the atmosphere of the business have an effect on the beer’s flavor?  We’re treading into quantum physics territory but could it be that the slightest, infinitesimal, neurologically-based variable might be the difference between what’s considered good beer and bad beer?  Sorry, I don’t mean to blow your mind; I know this is just a beer blog but, hey, think about it.
Franck doing his thing
One last comment on the Heineken presentation: some of the first words out of Franck’s mouth were in regards to his trepidation at presenting at a beer bloggers conference.  He said he knew that we knew our beer and that he’s almost surprised Heineken wanted to send him to BBC.  Is this an acknowledgement that he knows that his company’s beer isn’t exactly up to snuff when compared to America’s thriving craft beer scene?  It’s possible.  It’s also possible he just couldn’t accurately express his thoughts to a room full of native English speakers; his accent was pretty thick.      

After Franck’s presentation, we had a hearty, beer-paired lunch in the ballroom (Franck sat at our table; nice guy, really.  He asked what is means for a beer to be “Belgian-style” and I, being a teacher at heart, gladly explained that “Belgian-style” typically refers to the fruity, spicy Belgian yeast used in the beer’s creation).  The meal was excellent and featured the quintessential Boston cream pie and, after we got our grub on, we filed back into our conference room and BBC continued.