Best Check-In Decision Of BBC13: Myself! When a busload of people arrive simultaneously, the lines can get rather long to get checked in... so I headed straight for the desk and left Jay and Dustin to grab my bad. Mission accomplished, we were checked in, up to the room to drop off bags and back down to the trade show in no time.
Best Beer From The Trade Show: Sierra Nevada Hoptimum! This isn't anything new, but we STILL don't have it on the shelves here in Baton Rouge, so it was good to try some of the 2013 version finally. Other good options included the Ovila Saison from Sierra Nevada, the 80-Acre Wheat from Boulevard, the Robust Porter from Smuttynose, and a Woodchuck Farmhouse Cider. There were several other beers, but I had left my phone in the room to charge and didn't get a good record... it happens. Keeping a phone charged is a real challenge at this conference.
Most Interesting News From The Trade Show: Woodchuck! I was talking to the guys from Woodchuck (yeah, it's a cider, and yeah this is a beer bloggers conference... but whatever, I like cider.) and they have plans to do some dry-hopped ciders in the near future. I know Woodchuck isn't "craft" since they are owned by C&C Group out of Ireland, and I don't really care for their typical ciders, but the thought of a dry-hopped cider certainly has me intrigued.
Most Ghetto Location For A World Famous Brewery: Boston Beer Company! Okay, so maybe the neighborhood wasn't really as bad as it seemed, and their full production brewery is elsewhere, but the original Samuel Adams facility is in one sketchy location. Founder Jim Koch even alluded to this in his keynote speech, apparently they would give the local riff raff beer to act as a sort of security. Plus I bet the rent was cheap... really fairly ingenious when you think about it.
Best Intro Speech: Julie Herz! Julia (with Craftbeer.com) was back to officially open up the conference. She's a great speaker, and she knows the industry better than just about anyone. And she really respects the bloggers' role in the industry... gotta love that.
Best Reason To Give People Free Beer: Jim Koch! It turns out he doesn't like speaking to a sober audience, so there was a can of Boston Lager on everyone's chair. Joke's on him though, we had already been drinking for hours! Which in no way stopped everyone from enjoying a Boston Lager.
Coolest Moment Of The Conference: Utopias with Jim Koch! After the keynote speech there was food and a lot more beer... and in smaller groups we were able to go into the barrel aging room and try some of the 2012 Utopias with Boston Beer Company founder Jim Koch. The beer was amazing, far better than I expected and a lot more smooth than I would have ever guessed. It was rich, boozy but not overpowering, and extremely complex. Really the only thing bad about it was the two douchebags in the corner who felt like their personal conversation was more important than the rest of us listening to Jim. I won't name names, but if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, don't be that douchebag, and show some respect to everyone around you. That said, it was still a pretty awesome moment.
Best Cheese - Day 2 Edition: Boston Beer Company! Seriously, we had cheese with every meal I think. It should have been called the Beer & Cheese Conference.
Best Sam Adams Beer Not Named Utopias: Sam Adams American Kriek! I love a good sour and this one was really well done. I wish I could find it locally, but so far I've struck out.
Most Beer Bloggers Crammed Into Too Small Of A Space: Stoddard's Fine Food & Ale! This place seemed really cool, had great decor, had a great vibe, and they had an array of Heavy Seas Beer on tap, but it just wasn't close to a big enough space for everyone at the conference. If I'm ever back in Boston I'll do my best to make a return trip here for some pints and grub, but this time, we made a pretty quick exit after a few beers to make our way back to the hotel and call it a night. It had been a long day!
Best Reason To Drink Before Noon: Because you can! Seriously, once the sessions started there was beer everywhere... people were passing bottles around the room, leaving them at the front table for whomever wanted a pour, etc. The beer was flowing, it was 9:30 AM, and life was good.
Most Entertaining Speaker At The Conference: Franck Evers! He's the "Global Draught Master" from Heineken, and he came to a beer bloggers conference. Yeah, we thought that was a little weird, he thought it was a little weird, but he still is a really entertaining guy. Just don't call him German, he doesn't appreciate that. And be sure to skim the head off of your beer, that's where hangovers come from.
Most Likely To Speak Fluent Russian, In French: Troika Brodsky!
Best Beer At The Beer Pairing Lunch: Allagash Black! This one was paired extremely well with a Boston creme pie dessert. The entire beer pairing lunch was excellent, thanks to the National Beer Wholesalers Association for putting it on!
Best Beer At The Live Blogging Session: Night Shift Ever Weisse! Wow, this is what a sour should taste like. I had never heard of Night Shift Brewing before the conference, they are a small nanobrewery out of Everett, MA putting out some really awesome beers. They have traditional styles, but also a sour series and even a barrel aging program. It's really amazing what a little brewery can do in an area that's thirsty for great craft beer.
Honorable Mentions At The Live Blogging Session: Idle Hands Pandora, Thomas Hooker Old Marley Barleywine, and Rising Tide Daymark. All of the breweries had some impressive beers with them, but these stood out the most.
Best Red Carpet Rollout: Harpoon Brewery! They really treated us right... a special Imperial White IPA created just for us, a tour held by one of the founders, and then a beer dinner in a private section of the massive tasting room. They had all their taps opened up, and just kept bringing us more food. And more food. And then some more food. Seriously, it was an insane amount of grub, plus all the beer we could drink. I even snagged a nice Harpoon glass, but it broke on the trip home. :-(
Best Cheese - Day 3 Edition: Harpoon Brewery! Seriously, it should have been called the beer & cheese conference.
Best Beer Of The Beer Social: Goose Island Rare Bourbon County Stout! It was really a treat to learn that they were going to break this one out for us, and it did not disappoint. Fantastic beer, excellent whiskey notes, and still among the best bourbon barrel stouts in existence.
Louisiana Breweries Represented At The Beer Social After-Party: Parish Brewing and Tin Roof Brewing! Thanks again for the guys at Parish and Tin Roof for donating some beer to bring and share. All were a huge hit, especially the Parish Grand Reserve Barleywine. It was highly anticipated and received rave reviews from the bloggers lucky enough to try some.
Best Beer At The Beer Social After-Party: See, what had happened was, I had been drinking! I can't say for sure, I had been drinking all day and there was a lot of beer flowing. Untappd is telling me that I drank beers such as the Allagash Coolship Balaton, Wigglesworth Lord Falconer, Allagash FV13, Riverwalk Gnomad, Epic Ales Barrel Aged Huckleberry Sour, Rising Tide Polaris, Backlash Declaration, and Anchorage Arctic Saison, plus many more than didn't make it to Untappd. It was an epic night for sure, plus I checked in to some Parish Grand Reserve... you think I would bring it all the way to Boston and not drink a little? Ha!
Most Amazing Feat At The Entire Conference: I made it to every session! This did not happen last year in Indianapolis, but I pulled it off this year. Go me! even after being up WAY past my bedtime at the after-party the night before I was up and ready to go for the 9:30 Sunday session.
Most Generous Beer Bloggers: 2BeerGuys! Sean and Ryan, two Boston area bloggers who run 2BeerGuys.com were hooking us up all conference with some awesome local brews. They really treated us southern folk right, even giving us some Heady Topper to bring home! If they had a good beer out at their table, all it took was a tweet to find some showing up at ours. If the Beer Blogger Conference is ever down here, we'll have to repay the hospitality.
Best Beer Of The Final Day Of The Beer Bloggers Conference: Cigar City Hunahpu's Imperial Stout! Gerard of Beer In Florida brought this one to share, and after his report on the state of craft beer in Florida he broke it out and poured some. So good, if this weren't so hard to find I'd have Cigar City a lot higher on my breweries wishlist.
Crazy Stat Of The Day: Florida has almost 100 breweries! I could only name about 5, but apparently I'm a little low. Puts Louisiana to shame, even on a per capita basis.
Best Reason To Not Have Died From Alcohol Poisoning: More beer! Seriously, it never stopped... there was so much beer flowing, and it was still before noon. Somehow we all survived the conference, but Dustin, Jay, and I didn't fly out until the next morning, so we still had some time to kill in Boston.
Best Place To Watch USA Soccer In Boston: The Banshee! The beer selection wasn't impressive, but they had some awesome burgers and they had USA soccer on every screen. We watched the Gold Cup final there and then headed back to the hotel to crash. It had been a long fun trip and we had an early flight to catch.
Best Fiance' Ever: Mandi! For watching the house and the dogs while I was gone, love you baby!
Thanks again to everyone who helped put the Beer Blogger Conference together! It was a fantastic time, expertly run as always, and a great learning experience as well. Until next time... cheers!