National Beer Bloggers Conference 2013: Highlights…& More

The 2013 National Beer Bloggers Conference in Boston was an interesting experience and a great time. While I wrote a day-by-day breakdown (start with Day One here), I also want to point out some of my favorite moments as well as a couple things that could use a little improvement.

Beer pairing lunch & dinner

I get really excited about beer and food pairings. It gives me the chance to enjoy certain styles of beer I wouldn’t normally care as much for; when they are paired with something that brings out their best flavors, it can be surprising just how much it allows me to appreciate it in a new way. At the Beer Bloggers Conference, we were treated to one lunch and one dinner where beers were specifically chosen for each dish served. I think one reason I was looking forward to the meals as much as I was is that, being vegetarian, I often cannot attend beer pairing dinners, as most courses contain meat with no mention of vegetarian options. However, upon registering for the conference, all kinds of options were given for meal preferences, including vegetarian.

The lunch on Saturday, July 27, was sponsored by the National Beer Wholesalers Association at the Park Plaza Hotel. The main course of the lunch was Bbq Skirt Steak with Roasted Sweet Potato. My main course? Vegetables. No sauce, no extras…nothing. I think it’s pretty well known that vegetarians enjoy food as much as carnivores, and we do eat more than plain ol’ veggies. So I’d say this dish was a “fail.” Next time, maybe bbq portobello caps, seitan, or tempeh?


The beer dinner later that night, however, was a different story. This one was provided by Harpoon Brewery, and they really “got it.” They had a beer and cheese pairing ready to go for us upon arrival and three eye-catching side dishes set out (which all happened to be vegetarian). And they obviously put some thought into a vegetarian entree; in place of the Char Grilled Midsummer Fling Bbq Chicken with Ancho Chili Bbq Sauce, they made Quinoa Cakes instead. It was pretty amazing. Well done, Harpoon!

Red Bliss Potato Salad and Green Bean Salad (not pictured: Sweet Corn & Avocado Salad)
Red Bliss Potato Salad and Green Bean Salad (not pictured: Sweet Corn & Avocado Salad)  
Quinoa Cakes
Quinoa Cakes


Live Beer Blogging

There was an event called Live Beer Blogging, which was similar to speed dating but involved people from different breweries spending 5 minutes with each table of bloggers. They poured beer samples for everyone, talked about the beers and their breweries, and answered any questions we had for them. While this was happening bloggers

were tweeting their thoughts, which were projected onto the wall so that everyone could see what was being tweeted in the moment. It was a very cool idea, and I had so much fun! It was a fantastic way to learn about so many breweries and try their beer in just one hour’s time. I would say this was my favorite event of the entire conference. The downfall? It was held in a warehouse (at Burke Distributing in Randolph, MA), which was great–lots of space, lots of cases of beer on the shelves to make for an appropriate atmosphere. However, it’s not so conducive to WiFi. There were only 2 WiFi Hotspots, each supporting approximately 20 connections (there were around 150 bloggers). I was using my iPad rather than my phone (its battery is the worst, so I figured the iPad was my best option), so I basically didn’t get connected the entire time and therefore was unable to tweet, which was the main point of the event. In the future this definitely needs to be taken into consideration so that it can be as successful as possible.

Utopias Tasting in the Sam Adams Barrel Room with Jim Koch

The Boston Beer Company welcomed bloggers for an evening of beer and food, including a visit to the Barrel Room. I was taken aback to see Jim Koch himself pouring 2012 Utpoias for everyone. It was a wonderful surprise to say the least. And one I would have enjoyed far more had there not been a small group of bloggers just off to the side, having their own conversation–quite loudly. I was shocked at the rudeness of it and surprised anyone would have the gall to behave as such, considering how generous everyone had been. This was obviously no fault of anyone involved in the organization of the conference. I just wanted to add it to this post because it genuinely bothered me and interfered with not only my own experience, but of seemingly everyone else who was in the Barrel Room at that time. Have some respect, please!

Utopias with Jim Koch
Utopias with Jim Koch

The National Beer Bloggers Conference was pretty awesome. While I already wrote about the conference, I wanted to share some of my personal thoughts and feelings that go a bit deeper than just giving an account of what went on each day. I gave my feedback to the organizers, but I also wanted to pass it along to anyone interested in hearing more on my blog. Thanks for reading!

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