Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beer Blogger Conference 2012 - Summary Part 2.

Time for Part 2 of my hazy story of the 2012 Beer Bloggers' Conference... pieced together by memory, Foursquare, and UnTappd. (You missed part 1?  Well here's a link just for you.)

Friday, July 13th:
07:30 AM: Time to wake up... we have a bus to catch.  Well, first a cab to catch because we had no intentions of walking over a mile back to the HoJo to meet the group with two bags and a collapsible ice chest full of a case of Tin Roof beer.

08:30 AM: The bus should be on the road by now... but it's not... where'd our Brooklyn Brewery contingent go off to anyway?

08:40 AM: Oh, there they are!  And we're off... I managed to stay awake long enough to see U.S. Cellular Field, then it was nap time for this guy.

10:45 AM: 11:45 AM: Apparently I slept through the signs saying we were going to Eastern Time... but that's cool because my phone remembered.  We were pulling off the interstate into Lafayette, Indiana at the time, to get some lunch at the Lafayette Brewing Company! As with Goose Island I really expected this to be "on your own" with the drinking and food but they rolled out the red carpet for us.  We were ushered up some stairs (drunk test) to a large open second floor space with beer waiting and a serving line with some BBQ and fixings.  On each table was a pitcher of their Tippecanoe Common Ale, Gypsy Pils, and Black Angus Oatmeal Stout.  They also had the bar going with taps pouring samples of all their other beer styles. The owner of the place was even there to welcome us and talk with us about the beers and the brewery, very cool!  The food itself was underwhelming but still appreciated, and I was able to try tasting pours of most of the rest of their beers, including the Black Rock CDA, Admirality IPA, and Dharma Black IPA.  My favorite of the night was probably the French Vanilla Black Angus Oatmeal Stout, which the owner explained was the normal stout transferred through a "hop randall" sort of device that had been packed with french vanilla coffee beans.  Very nice, and very ingenious.  For dessert we were also served a 13-year aged Big Boris Barleywine, and as excited as I was this one didn't deliver.  I think it was a little TOO aged, quite flat and way too boozy-hot to be truly enjoyed.  All in all though, a great stop and many thanks to the Lafayette Brewing Company for having us!

Do you really need a caption?

Big Boris Barleywine


01:30 PM: Back on the bus, headed to Indy!  BrewDad handed me a Goose Island Honker's Ale for the ride... hell yeah dude!

03:00 PM: We're at the Marriott Downtown in Indianapolis... nice hotel, and time for a quick rest before the party starts downstairs.  Plus as always it seems, phones needed to be charged up.

03:45 PM: Time for the registration and trade show!  We got fancy hanging name tags to wear around and proclaim our beer nerddom to the world!  Fine by me, plus it's nice to put names to faces and help me remember all the people I had met on the Chicago excursion.  The "trade show" was pretty small, a handful of breweries and sponsors hawking their wares, but in this case that means beer!  Upland Brewing Company from Bloomington, Indiana was there and was one of my favorites.  Their Upland Wheat and Dragonfly IPA were solid but the Sour Reserve was absolutely fantastic.  We also got a chance to try the Sam Adams 13th Hour Stout which was pretty nice.  The Ram Restaurant & Brewery showed up as well with a nice barleywine, but I missed this check in so... dammit I can't really remember what the name was.

04:30 PM: Introduction speech with Julia Herz!  Very well done, emphasis on our place in the beer world as bloggers.  It's nice to feel important.

05:00 PM: Keynote speech with Garrett Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery.  I met Garrett Oliver once before at a beer event at the Avenue Pub in New Orleans, he's a really nice guy, knows his beer, and knows how to tell a story.  In fact one of the things he emphasized the most in his speech was the need for us to tell a story with our blogs.  That might be one of the points that resonated the most with me out of the entire weekend, so thanks again Mr. Oliver! 

05:45 PM: Live Beer Blogging!  So this is where we all sit around a table (10 in total) and different breweries come by and get 5 minutes to pour us some beer and talk about their key points.  We are supposed to take notes as best we can and then blog about it!  I actually thought I was going to be able to keep up on my TouchPad... HAHAHAHA, no.  Not a chance in hell, most people couldn't keep up on laptops.  So no live beer blogging post from me... just this recap.
1) Boulder Brewing Hazed & Infused: Nothing new, nothing special, but I did like the honesty that their rep used, letting us all know that this is the beer that pays their bills and allows them to keep brewing other stuff.
2) Karl Strauss Wreck Alley Imperial Stout: 9.5% stout out of San Diego, brewed with cocoa nibs and named after a popular diving spot.  Pretty solid.

Wreck Alley Imperial Stout, and a camera flash.

3) Schlafly A IPA: I really enjoyed this IPA out of St. Louis, tasted like it was brewed with a lot of Simcoe hops, and it's even served at Busch Stadium!
4) Barley Island Damien Belgian Strong Ale: A very nice beer from a small brewpub in Indiana.
5) Fountain Square Working Mans' Pilner: Came in an interesting plastic re-fillable bottle, probably because the brewery is draft only.  Good local gateway beer.
6) Flat 12 Bierwerks Pogue's Run Porter: I enjoyed this one a lot, from a German-tradition brewery in Indianapolis. 

Pogue's Run Porter

7) Triton Brewing Magnificent Amber: Another local beer from Indianapolis, but this one failed to impress me.  I noted that it was the weakest offering yet.  Sorry guys!
8) Three Floyds Arctic Panzer Wolf: All I noted on this one was "Awesome.  Really freaking awesome."  I guess I liked it.

Pretty cool label huh?  I snagged one.  Score!

9) New Belgium Shift Pale Lager: Boring.  Really, you're going to bring a pale lager to a beer bloggers' conference?  These types of beer have their place, and this isn't it.
10) Ram Endgame Imperial Stout: Thanks to Ram for ending this on a high note!  This was probably my second favorite beer after the Three Floyd's.
And with that we were done... but not before grabbing a half-full (I'm an optimist) bottle of Arctic Panzer Wolf that was left on our table.

07:00 PM: After a quick run up the elevators to put stuff down it was time to walk (a little over a mile... getting my miles in on this trip for sure!) to the Tomlinson Tap Room for dinner and, of course, more beer.  The tap room is located on the second floor of their City Market building, which looks to be an old gymnasium with a huge open center.  Oops, I said no more architecture... anyway the point is that it made the place pretty crowded when we packed 100 or so beer bloggers in.  We were each handed a tasting glass for unlimited samples and a token for a free full pint.  The food was served on a serving cart in the center of the space and they had some decent sausages and pasta on the second course, which is what I caught.  After sampling a Robert The Bruce Scottish Ale from Three Floyds I went with the Rye IPA from Bloomington Brewing Company as my full pint to accompany my sausage plate.  While eating a couple of beers from the brand new (or maybe still in planning) Indiana City Brewing in Indianapolis, their Beyond The Pale Belgian Pale and Shadowboxer Oatmeal Stout.  I hate to be critical, but the Beyond The Pale was terrible, way too much sage and lemon flavors to it, it was almost like drinking dawn dish detergent.  Fortunately the Shadowboxer was a good bit better... I would drink it again.  We also had the chance to try numerous other beers, my list included the New Albanian Knobentinus, Flat 12 Mustache Ride Red, Barley Island Barfly IPA, Three Floyds Pride & Joy Mild Ale, The Bier Brewery PDG Ale, the Figure Eight Ro Shampo Imperial Red, and Upland Nut Hugger Brown Ale. (Don't worry folks, these were all just 2 ounce (at most) samples!)

09:00 PM: Or something like this... I don't remember when but eventually it was pub crawl time, and we were off to the first stop, the Massachusetts Avenue Pub.  This was a nice small little pub with a small but impressive tap list.  Everything was local (I think!) and I went with a Flat 12 Summer Cycle, which despite the name was a super hoppy citrusy IPA.  I loved it, great take on a citrus beer but still something a hop head would enjoy.  I was very impressed!  Bonus points because this place showed up on my credit card statement as Avenue Pub and that had me all sorts of confused for a second.

10:00 PM: Guess what!  I'm just guessing at the times right now... no clue when we really left Mass. Ave. Pub and made our way to the Rathskeller German beer garden, but we did.  And I'm glad we did!  This place was awesome, a big outdoor (they also had a large indoor space but the party was outside) beer garden with a few bars and a stage for the band.  They were rocking out to some Rolling Stones when we walked in and Kathleen Joyce of the National Beer Wholesalers Association was nice enough to buy me one of the house beers, a Rathskeller Amber brewed by Sun King Brewing.  Before too long (it was either 10 or 11 local time, I really don't know people) the band had to quit playing due to noise restrictions, but we kept hanging out long enough for me to grab a Weihenstephaner Kristallweissbier.  This is one that I don't really hit up all that often but man it's a tasty beer.  Exactly what the style should be and proof that the Germans can make some damn fine beers when they want to. 

Paint It Black.


11:30 PM: Guessing again on the time, but I know we spend a good while at Rathskeller before making our way to the final pit stop, MacNiven's Restaurant & Bar.  Again, like the Mass. Ave. Pub this was a charming little pub-styled place with a nice old school feel.  I didn't order food, but I did order a Java Mac by Sun King Brewing, which was a very nice coffee infused scottish ale.  I also had a taste of a new friend's Pappy Van Muckle, a bourbon barrel (duh) aged Wee Heavy also by Sun King.  Two really good beers, fortunately I wasn't done with Sun King Brewing on this trip.

12:30 PM: Headed back to crash, tomorrow is a long day! 

There will be more... check back for part 3 of this fun weekend of beer!