My red-roped Beer Bloggers Conference nametag sits backwards and twisted around my neck as I rush to visit the loo for the first of many trips. I practice saying hello to Julia Herz of the Brewers Association in the bathroom mirror. “Hi Julia, I’m with OCBeerBlog….no no no…Hi Miss Herz, I write about beer and sometimes cheese….AHHHH!! [punches head several times] She’s going to think you’re an idiot!” yelling at myself. Back at the table, crack the laptop and applaud as the conference commences. The sound of keyboard keys seem to follow every spoken word like high school typing class. I hammer my keyboard and type “the quick brown fox jumps over the flying dog raging bitch” a few times as to not look like a slacker.
Julia Herz is a petite and spunky gal looking mildly like actor/comedienne Tracey Ullman in her prime. As the Brewer’s Association Craft Beer Director, she instantly captivates the room with stats and fun buzzwords like “SOS=Share of Stomach”. In the quick fifteen minutes she is given to open the conference, I get the warm fuzzy feeling that I’m doing something great. I could listen to her talk all day! “Wine? $40B a year in America. Spirits? $65B. Beer? $95.5B, with $8.7B in craft beer & growing” – Julia Herz
Julia’s intro is topped by none other than Garrett Oliver, writer and brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery. I agree with many of Garrett’s points which are employed here at this blog. “Gravity and IBU’s don’t tell stories.” and, “The more I understand about beer the more beautiful and the more mysterious it actually becomes”. Garret is such a crooner of the craft beer world! Again, his words make me feel like I’m part of a special universe, on a winning team, and we’re all going to make it. We toast, getting the perfect clank to ring in the conference.
Next up? Beer Speed Dating (aka Live Blogging). Ten breweries of varying beauty and sophistication get a few minutes of our time. Bloggers are encouraged to tweet, log the beer in untappd, and blog about the beers. Only two of the ten are available in SoCal. Here were my notes:
Karl Strauss Wreck Alley Imperial Stout, Nice summery Imperial Stout, light in body, drinks like a carbonated Iced Coffee. Cacao nibs and locally grown Ethiopian coffee beans give a chocolate covered fruit note that would pair easily with any dessert without overpowering. Nice date night beverage for an evening cruise around the harbor.
New Belgium brought cans of Shift. “I just mowed two acres of grass on a riding lawnmower and I’m enjoying a @newbelgium #shift”. There ya go. Decent beer. Shotgunable. Great lawnmower beer.
3 Floyds brought Arctic Panzer Wolf. “Hi, I’m here to wreck your palates!” Fun fact, this is the first 3Floyds beer I’ve ever had. I’m so impressed that I rip the label off our bottle and adhere it to my laptop. It’s a massive IPA, after all. Similar to Green Flash Palate Wrecker.
After an hour of Live Beer Blogging on an empty stomach, I feel a bit of the roasty roastyness. The conference takes to the streets and walks Downtown Indy to Tomlinson Tap Room for some MORE GODDAMN BEER. That’s right chuckleheads! Downtown Indy is probably the cleanest, well maintained, historically preserved, drowned in public art, and fun-packed downtowns I’ve been to. It’s quite lovely!
Arriving at Tomlinson Tap Room, I’m surprised it’s not a room. The name is kind of a misnomer as it sits on a mezzanine inside a large brick encrusted indoor city market. What’s special about it? They only pour craft beer brewed on Indiana soil, plus, the marketplace is a one-stop-shop to grab local food at the same time. TomTap, as it’s called, isn’t fully prepared for the onslaught of 150 extremely buzzed and hungry beer blogger types. The 4×6’ food kiosk is reminiscent of a group of hyenas trying to steal a lion’s kill. I manage to suck down some kielbasa and artichoke salad before heading out on the town, hooting and hollering like a hyena, of course.
The lovely gals at Girls Pint Out arranged a pub crawl map of great local craft beer joints in downtown Indy. Like a dick, I do none of this and hit Bru Burger Bar with a fun group that included the mutton-chopped Randy Clemens of Stone Brewing Co., fuzzy-headed Win Basset of All About Beer Magazine, smiley AJ from Wort & Yeast and the sultry voiced Lindsay from adventuresinbeerland. The Stone Tap takeover at Bru Burger is better than any I’ve seen. I sip a flight of Double Bastard Ale, years ’07, ’09, and ’11, Stone Mixtape, as well as Stone Brewing’s 10th Anniversary Ruination; a beer that is super easy drinking for 10+%. All paired well with spicy Ceviche and mini-Bru Burger!
Back at the hotel, the “Bru Crew” (minus Win B.) and 3/4 members of #teamfuckyeah invade my room with some more beers and fun stories. I’m going to need a stunt liver. Day one is in the books! Thanks for bearing with the huge post.
Up next: Day 2 BBC | I got bored of typing and never recapped it. In short, it included some conference panels, one of the biggest beer festivals I’ve ever been to, and a tour of one of the largest beer distribution centers in america. It had robots.