Thinking about Beer Blogging

As I mentioned a couple posts back, I recently attended a conference for beer bloggers (aptly, if uninspiringly, named “Beer Bloggers Conference”). It was my first time attending, and not long after, I was trying to assess if I wanted to go back, and if it’d been what I’d expected.

I have still not figured it out, but I realized that the answers to four questions might have been useful back when I was trying to decide to attend in the first place or not. So, I emailed thirteen other bloggers and asked those questions after this year’s con. Ten folks’ answers are fairly short, so I’ve included all of those in this post. For the three bloggers who answered one or more questions with greater depth there will be a post each in November (while I work on NaNoWriMo again). I have very lightly edited a few of the answers below for or readability, but the content remains the same.

How many beer bloggers conferences have you attended?

Liz Garibay of History on Tap: Two.
Astrid Cook of Brooklyn Beer Bitch: This was my second conference; I also attended the conference in Boston last year, including the Portland, ME, pre-excursion.

Nancy Rockwood of Nancy Brew: This was the first one. 2014​

Jessica Miller of Hey, Brewtiful: This was my first.

Jessica Rice of Beer and Baking: This was my first one.

Mike Besser of Brew Dad: Four of the five.

Ronda Coyle of Pubquest: This was my first beer bloggers conference.

Nora McGunnigle of NOLA Beer Blog: This was my second BBC, I attended last year’s in Boston.

Mark Burlet of Drunken Intellectual: This was my first beer blogger’s conference.

Kristofor Barnes of Bierkast/LA Beer Bloggers: This is the only one I’ve attended.

What was the best part of this year’s conference for you?

Liz G: Breweries/beer I had never had before
Astrid C: Probably the chance to catch up with other beer writers that I only get to see once/year, plus the opportunity to learn what best practices bloggers are using.

Nancy R: Meeting other writers from around the country and listening to local brewers talk about their culture of how the craft evolved and formed in their communities.​

Jessica M: Connecting with people I’d met in the online beer world.

Jessica R: It’s a tie between the Ken Grossman speech and live blogging. I loved hearing Ken speak and I loved the live blogging because it gave us an opportunity to taste different beers and discuss them with the table and the brewery representatives. It was a whirlwind experience. Also, all the new friends and connections I made. Met some great people!

Mike B: For me it is meeting all the people and seeing old friends from years past. I get lots of energy from each person as they tell me about themselves and their blogging activities.

Ronda C: I was most impressed with what you get for the money. Each meal we got shuttled off to a local brewery, impressive list of local speakers, interesting topics and a boat load of beer.

Nora M: Best part – the people, for sure – connecting with fellow beer geeks is a lot of fun. Also the events – I always feel so well-treated, like beer royalty!

Mark B: I loved meeting other bloggers and beer geeks from all over. This “industry” is all about community, and it’s always great to expand that to other parts of the country. Also, the insight from the panels, as well as from all the attendees, will go a long way to help improve my own blogging.

Kristofor B: I like meeting people and talking about the state of the industry. I think my favorite part was meeting so many new faces. Although I really liked the WordPress workshop along with special guest talks (Julia Hertz, Ken Grossman).

What was the worst part of this year’s conference for you?

Liz G: Too much packed in one weekend.
Astrid C: Some of the programming felt redundant, especially the Saturday night industry pour; I would have liked to see more variety in the beer being offered.

Nancy R: ​I felt like most of the breakout sessions were not tailored to realistic use for the actual attendees.

Jessica M: The time change was pretty rough (East coaster participating in a West coast event).

Jessica R: The lack of food and free time. I wish we weren’t so jam-packed with the schedule so we could have more down time or visit local breweries that may not be part of the group agenda. Also, since most the food was buffet-style, I often was distracted and didn’t eat enough.

Mike B: I really did not like it when the speakers went off microphone. Being that I am hard of hearing (over 60% deaf) it makes it hard to hear when they go off microphone. I am sure I am not the only one who had a hard time hearing at times.

Ronda C: I’m trying to think what the worst part was for me and I’m not coming up with anything.

Nora M: Worst part – hm. Well, the fact that the pre-conference excursion was announced pretty late in the game (I’d made my plane reservations early.) But also, I was relieved I didn’t go, because that seemed like a slog. You could tell the people who went, because they looked exhausted the next day. I also didn’t love the photography session, it was geared for much higher level photography than I thought it would be. I thought it would be more like cell phone pictures and working with photos in social media and blogs and websites. But honestly, those are pretty small disappointments in the grand scheme of things.

Mark B: Too much beer, too little time? Seriously though, there was so much amazing beer to consume, from the San Diego area and whatever the other bloggers brought, that it was impossible to really enjoy everything. Not sure if adding another day to the conference would help that though… I’m sure there would just be more to drink! (Oh, and the lack of coffee in the morning, but that’s probably a hotel thing… heh)

Kristofor B:I wasn’t a huge fan of the Yardhouse visit. It’s a super commercial beer spot and in a town like San Diego bursting with breweries and brewpubs, it seemed like a misfire. For everyone coming from out of town, I felt bad that this was where went.

Would you attend another beer bloggers conference again in the future?

Liz G: Yes
Astrid C: Yes. I have already signed up for Asheville 2015.

Nancy R: ​It’s questionable. The location, activities, and attendees would weigh heavily.

Jessica M: I’m already registered for next year!​

Jessica R: Yes, I am hoping (money permitting) to addend the BBC15 in Ashville!

Mike B: I hope to but it all depends on the stage of where I am in business and life.

Ronda C: I am planning on going to the Ashville conference in 2015.

Nora M: I would attend another beer blogger’s conference again for sure, and am doing so – I registered for the Asheville 2015 conference as soon as they announced it, did it in my seat right there.

Mark B: Absolutely! I am already registered for next year’s conference in Asheville. I love to travel and I love beer, so I hope to make beer a larger part of my travel plans in the future… Denver, Portland, and Belgium (and maybe Chicago… heh) are all on my radar for the next few years as well.

Kristofor B:Definitely. I’m already registered and set up to go to the one in Asheville 🙂

Some thoughts on the answers.

I found it interesting (though perhaps not surprising), that while the beer we were able to try definitely is a strong motivator for people to attend or attend more than once, it was not the primary motivator. Indeed, it strikes me as particularly clear that the attendees make the conference. And the attendees end up being so motivating that almost everyone would love to attend again. But the beer doesn’t hurt.

As notable as it was that meeting and visiting with other people was the “best” part of the conference for basically everyone, I also find it fascinating that there was no commonality in what was “worst.” That said, it seems to me that the folks who run the conference can definitely help with some of these things fairly easily (if not cheaply); for example getting the speakers lapel microphones to help with Mike B‘s complaint.

It’s definitely an interesting conference, and having all these answers (plus those I’ll publish in November from Paul McGuire of San Diego Hop Addict, Alan McCormick of Growler Fills, and Molly Notestine and Matthew Wright of Bub Gourmand) have really helped me see things I may have overlooked in the conference. Both positive and negative things, to be sure. While I have not yet signed up for the 2015 American conference, these answers are certainly swaying me toward doing so.

If you’re a fellow beer blogger who has not (or has!) attended “Beer Bloggers Conference”, I hope these answers, and the ones forthcoming in November, help you decide if it’s worth it for you to attend as well.

A condition of registering as a “citizen blogger” at Beer Bloggers Conference was that I write a minimum of two posts about the conference. I clearly intend to write more than two posts, but this is the second of the required posts.

4 thoughts on “Thinking about Beer Blogging

  1. Is there a Chicago area beer bloggers “organization?” Seeing these answers makes me think that having a similar, more relaxed (but obviously smaller) local “conference” experience a couple times a year would also be worthwhile. Just a thought…

  2. I am in. I can host a local event. I have my Oktober Kreig coming up. Great opportunity to taste a ton of Oktoberfests, possibly win some cash ,network and brain storm. Natasha, Site looks great, gonna trow a link on my page. – Woz

    • Hi, Woz! Glad to know you’d be interested. I’ll definitely be contacting you, then. And thanks so much for the compliment!

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