Thursday, August 1, 2013
Beer Learnings (Beer Bloggers Conference 2013, Saturday sessions)
Saturday was the main educational component of the Beer Bloggers Conference. For the entire morning we had sessions like "The Current State of Beer Blogging Survey Results" and "Mechanics of Beer Pouring" while conversing on Twitter. I particularly enjoyed the panel of "industry" bloggers - bloggers and social media gurus working for breweries. It gave an intriguing view of the different paths this blogging thing could potentially lead to, if an independent blogger was interested in making that switch.
You can find the results of the Current State of Beer Blogging Survey here.
The "Mechanics of Beer Pouring" was sponsored by Heineken, which was not quite as useful to to me personally, but Heineken Global Draught Master (excellent title and job, by the way) Franck Evers was full of soundbites and some generally raunchy and hilarious thoughts, like an riff on a discussion he had with an Irish guy about lipstick... I think you probably had to be there, though. It was an enjoyable presentation, but the content was not as engaging as the person delivering it.
Time for lunch- we had a four course meal with beer pairing, sponsored by the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA.) They provided some tips to create our own beer pairings, like matching strength with strength, ensuring the food and the beer have the same balance of intensity so that one side of the flavor equation doesn’t overwhelm the other. Or, focus on a flavor component that occurs in both the beer and the food, like chocolate malt notes in a stout complementing a dessert course. There are also cases where you may want to create a balance between the two, like pairing a rich course with a beer that is more effervescent, or a solid, malty beer with spicy food.
The first pairing was Rogue's Brutal IPA with gazpacho. The herbaceous hoppiness of the beer complemented the fresh herbs in the soup and the gazpacho's acidity and the beer's malt background alos worked well. The second pairing was inspirational - a crab cake with fennel slaw paired with Stillwater Stateside Saison. The soft floral notes of the saison's yeast and delicate bread characteristics of the malt paired perfectly with the crabcake. Stillwater brewer Brian Strumpke is Maryland based, so there was a fun regional association as well. The meat course was a gorgeously grilled BBQ skirt steak with roasted sweet potato sent out with Lagunitas' Wilco Tango-Foxtrot, an American "Old Ale." The caramelized flavors of the malt worked well with the caramelization of the Maillard reaction on the crust of the grilled steak and the sweet roasted flavors of the accompanying sweet potatoes. And for dessert, the local classic Boston Cream Pie (which is actually a cake) was terrific with Allagash Black, a Belgian style stout/strong dark ale. The chocolate, coffee, and caramel notes in the malty beer was a perfect match.
Yeah, that lunch was pretty great. Props to the Boston Park Plaza for great food and the NBWA for smart pairings and great explanations of why they chose what they did.
After lunch, we had a session on social media which was very informative. The presenters covered best practices for all different social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Vine, Google Authorship, and other stuff I don't even know about. Social media is such an important part in getting the word out about the work beer bloggers do, that this was a great addition to the content of the conference.
We had a tiny break to freshen up before the evening activities, the live beer blogging event and dinner at Harpoon. However, since this is already a long enough blog entry, I will post that in a separate entry shortly.