Benefits of the Beer Bloggers Conference
Blogging and writing about beer, while it doesn’t pay much, does come with some perks. One such perk is the ability to attend a high quality development conference like the Beer Bloggers Conference, organized by professional event planners Zephyr Adventures. For the tiny sum of $95, bloggers have access to brewers, beer dinners, more beer than one can possibly imagine and educational seminars from industry experts and beer blogging peers. This year’s location in Boston provided opportunities for well-established east coast breweries like Samuel Adams and Harpoon to connect with beer bloggers. The breweries took full advantage of this to throw elaborate dinners, tastings and tours. Even though both breweries are well positioned in the craft beer mainstream, they pulled out all the stops to create memorable events, with Jim Koch sharing tastes of Samuel Adams’ highly regarded and expensive barrel aged beer Utopias (2010 vintage) with small groups, and Harpoon brewing an Imperial White IPA, which was specifically requested by the conference attendees.
Smaller breweries were able to get in the action as well at one of the signature events of the conference. The live beer blogging event is like speed dating with added social media and beer. Tables of ten bloggers settled in and craft brewers from throughout New England had five minutes to introduce themselves, pour their beer, discuss the beer and entertain questions. Then, ding!, the bell
would ring and they’d be off to the next table and a new brewer would arrive at the table just vacated. It was an interactive and fun way to get to know the brewers and the beer. Night Shift from Massachusetts, Thomas Hooker from Connecticut, Baxter from Maine, and Foolproof from Rhode Island were only a few of the excellent breweries I was able to enjoy.
More than just drinking beer, this conference focused on what we as “citizen bloggers” could learn from each other. One of the best hours spent in seminar was the “Blogger Reports.” Ten conference participants had five minutes each to talk about anything they wished - a tool they’ve used, a partnership they’ve leveraged or any other advice that has (or hasn’t) worked for them. David Ackley with North Carolina’s Local Beer Blog discussed monetizing blogs with a presentation titled, “Beer Blogging For Peanuts,” comparing different ad revenue providers. Jay Ducote of Bite & Booze in
Louisiana shared the success he’s had with collaborating with LouisianaTravel.com, the state’s official travel and tourism website, in creating profiles on all Louisiana breweries and creating a video for the state’s new “Brewery Trail.” Joe Callender of
CraftBeerCoach.com also provided a live demo of his new mobile app in development called Brewhorn, which will assist beer drinkers in choosing the best beer at a store or bar by assessing their personal preferences and making recommendations based on that.
The final keynote speaker was Ray Daniels, founder of the Cicerone beer certification program. Daniels shared his experience writing, editing, and working with the gold standard of beer writers, the late Michael Jackson. His tips like “describe, don’t decide” for your reader, telling the story of the beer, and ensuring factual accuracy (“In 15 seconds I can use Google and find out if you are right or not. You should too.”) seemed obvious, but they are critical to success as a beer writer. He also provided advice coming from
the perspective of an expert source: avoid old press releases for information, beware the “mystery quote,” go directly to the source, and bring focus to the interview.
Great brewery events, beer everywhere you turn, the opportunity to learn from each other, expert advice are all wonderful parts of the Beer Blogger Conference. But being in the same room as a hundred other people just as passionate about beer as you are is perhaps the most exciting aspect of all. It’s an intangible and undefinable thrill that will keep a smile on your face all weekend long. Keep an eye out at http://beerbloggersconference.org/ for the upcoming announcement of next year’s location and join the fun!