This July, a group of both citizen and professional bloggers in the beer world will be converging on Asheville, NC, to discuss all things blogging and beer. My wife and I attended last years conference in San Diego, and it was a great time. This year's agenda should be shaping up to be great as well. A few highlights that I'm looking forward to include touring the Asheville branches of both Oskar Blues and Sierra Nevada as well as the Social Expo and Speed Blogging. One other thing I'm curious about will be a "3PM Tasting" hosted by a certain megabrewer.
The conference is about beer, so there are always brewery visits involved. Two on the agenda this year are Oskar Blues and Sierra Nevada. Considering Louisiana is about to start getting Oskar Blues, I'm pretty stoked to be touring their Asheville location. They were one of the first craft brewers to embrace the canning movement including their fantastic imperial stout, Ten FIDY. Sierra Nevada's Asheville location is new (just opened this year), so I'm expecting it to be a great experience and we'll probably have Ken Grossman himself showing us around (he is typically a speaker at the conference).
The Social Expo is going to combine the Trade Show and Beer Social this year. It will basically be a mix of vendors promoting their wares (last year included items like the Spirited Shipper and an app to suggest similar beers to the one you're checking in that are in your area), and breweries giving some samples of their beers. Last year included Lagunitas, Goose Island, and Firestone Walker (mmmm Double DBA). Speed blogging was a similar thing where 10 breweries bring your table a different beer every 5 minutes. They have 5 minutes to explain their beer, have everyone taste it, and discuss or blog about it. Some people make one big blog entry for everything, and others go pro level and live blog each one in series.
Finally, the other thing that I'm interested in will be ABInbev bringing their 3PM tasting to us. This may wind up being a little controversial considering their Super Bowl ad last year talking about how their beer isn't meant to be 'fussed over' or picked apart. The description of the 3PM tasting, though, sounds like exactly that, where their tasters meet and analyze current batches and ingredients to make sure they meet their standards. I hope the Bud guys are ready to get some ribbing. Cheers!