Sunday, August 24, 2014

2014 Beer Bloggers Conference - San Diego

This conference was perfect for the way I like to schedule recreational travel: a four-day weekend with a pre-conference day for independent wandering and a full conference schedule.  We selected a direct flight from New Orleans International Airport to San Diego International Airport on Southwest Airlines.  We took a taxi from the airport to the conference hotel, the San Diego Mission Valley Marriott.  For our independent ground travel, we used UBER for the first time.  The trip went well, what follows are my thoughts on our lodging and transportation services for the duration of the trip.

Things I appreciate about Southwest:
1.  Select your own seat.  I prefer the exit row on the wing because you get extra legroom.  On the A/B/C side of the plane, you get more elbow room as well.  The extra space helps with the cooped up feeling on the long flight.
2.  Direct flights.  It's worth the drive to New Orleans.
3.  The planes are roomy.  No worries about hitting your head on the ceiling while entering the plane or walking down the aisle.
4.  The seat belts don't make me feel like I need to lose 25lbs to fly.
5.  The flight attendants are friendly and have a sense of humor about the long flights.
While my butt was hurting for half the flight, that is more about my butt than it is about Southwest.

Marriott properties are my favorite for travel.  There is a consistent quality at a good value that I've come to appreciate, and the San Diego Mission Valley Marriott was no exception to that expectation.
1.  The room rate was a great value for the site. 
2.  The staff were courteous and responsive to my requests.  I was able to get a feather free room with a king size bed for a small wait on check in.
3.  Strawberry enhanced water was available in the lobby 24/7.  This is quite refreshing and beats bottled water.
4.  The room was spacious.  There was a sitting area with a love seat and coffee table and a work space with a charging station.
5.  The dining area provided a variety of breakfast options.  We ate there every morning.  The fruit was fresh and the bacon was crispy.  The coffee was Starbucks, so it was decent.
6.  The conference center was connected to the hotel by covered walkways.  The weather was beautiful, but this was a great feature for a conference in the event of rain.
7.  There were beautiful outdoor seating areas.  Landscaping ranged from palm trees to rose bushes.  The sofas and chairs were oversized and comfortable.  There was an outdoor breakfast area and a lounging area with a fire pit.  The pool was inviting, and they played family movies on a big screen at the pool at night.

1.  The vehicles were clean.
2.  The drivers were well dressed and pleasant.  It was like being picked up by a friend for a ride because you were in town.
3.  We never waited more than 10 minutes for a ride (most waits were around 5 minutes).
4.  You don't need cash and your credit card information is shared with only one point of contact.
5.  The UBER app lets you confirm if your driver is on course to the destination you selected.  This is a great feature when you are traveling somewhere that is unfamiliar.

On a return trip to San Diego, I would definitely use all of these transportation and lodging services again.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Mini-review: Rough Draft Weekday IPA

Aroma is grapefruit with a little cattiness.
Appearance is deep gold with a white head.
Flavor is grapefruit hops with a very low malt backbone.
Mouthfeel is light-bodied and crisp.
Overall Impression is a nice session IPA with a nice fruitiness.

Lost Abbey - Deliverance

Aromas of brandy and chocolate.  Reminiscent of carmalizerd fig.  Good mouthfeel, it's not thick, but there is substance to it.  Coats the palate and finishes with a cholate taste as the palate dries.  It can deliveru from a rough day.  Curl up with a blanket and a good book and don't plan to go anywhere for the night.

Mini-review: Lost Abbey Deliverance

Aroma is boozy with dark fruit (raisins and plums) with a hint of vanilla.
Appearance is dark brown with nice legs.
Flavor is warm alcohol and raisins and plums.
Mouthfeel is thick and viscous.
Overall Impression is decadence.

Fireside Walker - PIVO Hoppy Pils

Light blonde, lemony and spicy smell.   It literally makes the tongue tingle.  Definitely has a lemony tang to it.  Love the carbonation level!  Would go great with grilled fish or boiled shrimp.  Great gateway beer if you're not sure about trying craft beer.

Mini-review: Firestone Walker Pivo Pils

Aroma has a spicy noble quality with a little lemongrass.
Appearance is light straw gold and clear.
Flavor is a light lemony and spicy hop first with a very light malt backbone.
Mouthfeel is light-bodied and crisp.
Overall impression is a very good American interpretation of a hybrid Czech/German Pils.

Warsteiner - Pils SG

Light and sparklling.  Straight up crawfish boil goodness.  Has a rice/doughy smell.  If you are a light beer drinker, you should definitely give this baby a try.  It will put your regular favorite to shame.