Yesterday was the first official day of the Beer Bloggers Conference which took place here in Portland, Oregon and I was lucky enough to be able to attend at least one day of the event (although I’m currently in the air flying to New York for another conference, non beer related so I had to cut my time at BBC short).
First of all, I think it’s pretty amazing that the craft beer industry has grown so much that there warrants a need for a conference just for beer bloggers. Over 80 people attended the event and I’m sure it will grow as the years go on. With over 1700 breweries and about 700 more planned in the U.S. alone, there is a lot of blogging to be done.
The event started off with some beer samples from Pyramid (a black IPA), Widmer (an IPA from their rotator series), and Sierra Nevada (a brown ale and something else that I didn’t try). Not a bad way to start a conference, although I forgot to eat lunch which would have helped a ton.
The first to speak was Julia Herz from the Brewers Association / CraftBeer.com who gave a lot of statistics about the growth in the craft beer industry that was definitely encouraging to hear. Later on she whipped out some malt and hop samples which is a great visual for any aspiring beer geek.
Next up was Fred Eckhardt and John Foyston, both Portland beer legends. Much was Fred (who’s in his mid 80’s) telling stories and saying “you’ve got to be kidding me” just about every sentence. It was a very entertaining session and I walked away thinking I’d love to sit down with both of those guys over some beers. They have years of industry knowledge and seem like a couple of great guys.
The last session was titled “How To Brew On Your Stove Top (While Blogging On Your Laptop)” which was presented by the co-founders of Brooklyn Brew Shop. It was a humorous and basic look at home brewing, but definitely got my wheels turning. They talked about random styles of beer they have created ranging from a Peanut Butter Porter to beer made with just about anything you could think of.
After the sessions were over we all boarded a bus and took off to Goschie Farms, which is a family owned hop farm in Oregon. The bus ride should have been about 45 minutes long, but due to some unusual Portland traffic, I think it took over 2 and a half hours. Usually I’d be mad about traffic but there were breweries on the bus who started pouring. There were two buses and on ours we had:
- Black Saison from Breakside Brewing (not sure if that was the official name but it was pretty awesome)
- Black Sheep IPA from Lucky Lab Brewing (a black IPA)
- Galactic Imperial Red Ale from Hopworks Urban Brewery (I think my favorite, so good)
- Chatoe Rogue First Growth Single Malt Ale from Rogue (probably a good beer on it’s own, but didn’t stack up against the others in my opinion)
- The Stoic from Deschuttes (definitely a great beer)
As you can see it was a great ride. Once we got there we got to tour the farm which consisted of about 400 acres of hops, with some grown organically. Their facility takes the beautiful hops from harvest to a bundle. I’ve lived in the northwest my whole life and that was the first time I’ve visited a hop farm and enjoyed every minute of it. They served us some good German dinner and even hop brownies (with a ton of beers..too many I don’t remember all that I tried) and sent us on our way (with even more beer).
I had to wake up early to catch my flight so I missed the night of many bottles afterwards which consisted of more beer samples that bloggers brought from all over the country. I’m sure those that attended had a great time.
Overall the conference was definitely a great time, even if I missed a good majority of it. It your a beer blogger of any size, definitely try to make it out to one. If you’re not a blogger, make sure to support and encourage the beer bloggers in your life.