Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

Posts tagged ‘craft beer’

Join in on the National Craft Beer Hoard…

*** Update on Mar 18., 2020…

I hope this update finds you healthy and calm and in reasonable spirits today…  our craft beverage and hospitality industry is being hit hard with the virus as it invades our communities in North America (and closer to home for me, in Florida…)

Since I posted the National Craft Beer Hoard, here’s what I picked up in St Petersburg, FL… (I’ll make updates whenever I purchase to-go beer…)

From left to right:

As of today (Mar 18, 2020), small breweries in FL are still allowed to fill and sell growlers/crowlers/package beer for home consumption.

The FL governor announced yesterday that all bars and nightclubs (any establishment for which alcohol sales are at least 50% of sales) are closed for 30 days as of 5pm EDT.

Be safe and responsible, and please, please, please keep in touch with each other (especially if you feel anxious or own or depressed!) – we’re all going to get through this together.  Slainte to your health!  -Carol  ****

—- ORIGINAL POST MAR 16, 2020 —-

Good day Craft Beer drinkers of America!

(I know it’s been a few months since I last posted… but life in the Florida brewing scene has been busy. For more, see my p.p.s. at the end for what I’ve been up to…)

This post is a CALL TO ACTION!  In light of the growing pandemic and related closings of public venues/ bars/restaurants, etc. I feel compelled to ask you to hoard something more than toilet paper and hand sanitizer and keep your local craft brewing industry afloat.

How can you do that?  You can participate in the National Craft Beer Hoard (okay, we can start local and see if it catches on…)

The National Craft Beer Hoard – Part 1:  Stock up on Local Packaged Craft Beer!

Show support for your local brewery by ordering (online or by phone) packaged craft beer and pick it up to go (or in Georgia and other states where it is legal, have it delivered) – and drink it at home.  (This also applies to local wineries, distilleries, cideries, bottle shops, etc! Many operate on low profit margins!)

Craft beer and craft beverages are ideal for in-home drinking while you’re well or taking care of a loved one or cocooning or in quarantine – stock up on craft beer supplies (canned or bottled) from your LOCAL brewery today!  I’m willing to bet they’ll appreciate it.

(And please post pics of your stash as a comment!)

Tampa Bay Brewing Craft Beer

The National Craft Beer Hoard – Part 2:  Hoard a Month or a Year’s Supply of Brewery/Tasting Room/Bar/Restaurant Gift Certificates!

Pay it forward – literally, by buying up supplies of gift certificates from your local brewery/distillery/winery/cidery, restaurant or bar.  It’s easier than ever to help out your favorite pub, tasting room, brewery or restaurant by buying gift certificates (you can give them away as gifts, use them when the business re-opens, or use them for future purchases of to-go packaged craft beer when your supply runs low!)

Why do we need a National Craft Beer Hoard?

One of the hardest hit with the government mandated closures will be our workers and owners of small craft breweries, bars, tasting rooms, retail outlets, event planners and others who are in some way part of our multi-billion dollar industry who are forced (or voluntarily decided out of kindness to patrons’ health) to shut down public access.

Cash flows are going to be an issue to keep these small businesses running – and we all are in this together.

Spend a couple more dollars on craft beer by buying local (even $5 more for a 6 pack of craft beer over the national mass produced international chain beers will help!)  And, I can guarantee your local business will NOT run out of gift certificates !

Stay safe, drink responsibly, and please be kind to each other.  Our community is small, vibrant, and is part of our future!  Let’s drink to your health and the health of our industry!

Cheers,

Carol

P.s., Don’t forget to post pics of your craft beer “hoarding!”

P.p.s., For anyone who is curious about what I’ve been up to in FL Craft Beer… In the past few years, I’ve started speaking about craft beer (globally) including Craft Beverage 101 tasting/education sessions at the annual National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) Experience conferences (2016/ 2017/ 2019) and the international Beer Marketing and Tourism Conference (2020) among others.  In the summer of 2019, I started the LLC called Curated Craft Experiences with a business partner!

I’m also teaching On-Premise TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) – a 4 hour safe alcohol serving workshop for bartenders, breweries and bars. (I’m proud to say I have a 100% pass rate with students – contact me for info!), and I did part-time high volume bartending for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Pirates (until spring training ended last week), and if you’re ever in FL and want to volunBEER at a brewfest, you might be interested to know about my group of 500+ Tampa Bay area volunBEERs  – on Facebook, check out our page “Carol’s VolunBEERs.”  Slainte!

 

 

Creating FOMO events = food + drink + fun + surprises + charity

Let’s get real for a minute… we live in an age of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) when it comes to events, and, at the same time, our entertainment budget is limited by time and $$$.

(Even if you’re Richard Branson with unlimited finances, there’s only 7 days in a week and 24 hours in a day…)

For most of us, we choose events that we hope will be magical and unique (fun) and leave a lasting (positive) impression.

Some of our best memories are typically celebrations having fun with upbeat people (like-minded friends and strangers,) enjoying good food and libations. For me, when I look back on whatever-was the event, I still get a warm, happy feeling.  It’s those feelings we want to create with our new company: Curated Craft Experiences.  It is our goal to exceed our customers’ expectations with lively, unique and fun events that come with a few surprises.

Invitations > Time

For extroverts, social media brings way more invitations to events than most of us have time or money for, and that creates a challenge:  where to go to get the biggest ROI (return on investment)?  For introverts, simply perusing a listing of upcoming social opportunities can be daunting: which ones will be friendly, not too in-your-face, and fun?

We all want events that make us feel part of a community and special (not too many people.) It’s a given that there will be a solid beverage and specialty food lineup with good entertainment.  We anticipate leaving feeling satisfied and it’s a bonus if we feel like we’ve made a difference (because there’s a charity involved.)

So what’s the Magic Formula to Create (and Satisfy) those of us with Expectations and FOMO?

As event planners, two things are always considered for our public events (this is just the beginning – we consider a lot more):

  1. Today’s consumers:  Attendees want to feel good about themselves and the world. This means events featuring locally sourced and delicious food (from local vendors), craft beverages (featuring local breweries, cideries and distilleries), a community-based charity, and an upbeat, whimsical atmosphere; and
  2. Millennials (those born 1982 to 2004): Many events are the same year after year without considering the changing societal  demographics. Millennials are the next major consumer superpower (even larger than the boomer generation) – and they value quality over quantity, leisure time over money, social responsibility over indulgence, and seek unique, exclusive experiences.

So, the formula I’ve seen work best that satisfies (and delights) the majority of event attendees (not limited by age) is:

The best ROI = Locally sourced food + Local craft beverages (beer/cider or distilled spirits or a combination) + Fun (an element of whimsy) + Surprises (think Pop-up events) + Charity (giving back).

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  (Please comment)

Upcoming Curated Craft Experiences events:

July 8, 2019 – Training for Intervention ProcedureS (TIPS) training for bars/bartenders/brewery/restaurant servers by Carol Dekkers at Overflow Brewing, St Petersburg, FL, 5-10pm.

Register here

 

Sept 7, 2019 – 0.1 Mile (528 feet) of Fun Run, Dunedin House of Beer, 3-6 pm.

Register here

 

 

 

Oct 26, 2019 – 0.1 Mile (528 feet) of Scary Fun Run, If I Brewed the World, St Petersburg, FL, 3-6 pm. Register here

 

 

 

Join us for one or more events and overcome your FOMO!  It’s going to be epic fun!

Heading to VA for Business or Pleasure? Be sure to stop at Loudoun County (LoCo) Breweries

It’s always fun to experience local beer goodness off the beaten path, but Virginia farmland is not where I’d expect to find  yummy craft brews – yet Loudoun county, VA boasts close to 25 breweries in its 147,000 acres of farmland (the colloquial response when I our tour guides about the size of the county.)  Leesburg is the only urban sprawl in Loudoun County.

Thanks to the kind folks at the I took part in a LoCo (Loudoun County) media brewery tour day as a precursor to the Craft Brewers Conference #CBC in April in Washington DC.  The full day tour featured several stops:

1. Adroit Theory Brewing. (Adroit Theory Brewing 404 Browning Ct. Unit C Purcellville, Virginia 20132)

 

 

 

Owner Mark Osborne provided an overview of the brewery operations, generous samplings of their brews on tap, and insights (definitely non-conformist) behind this innovative brewery:

  • Androit Theory self-distributes in MD/VA, and has no big plans to go beyond (at this point in time.)  Their limited production line specializes in “big, boozy beers” such as their EBK, a New England style DIPA (a “sessionable” 8.5% abv brew with citra/mosaic/Galaxy hops)
  • “Consume life, drink art,” and “brewed to destroy” pay homage to the metal bands that are inspiration behind the brews, labels, and decor.

My favorite brew on tap was the cask Belgian Quad “All I see is Carrion” aged in Bourbon barrel a with cherries, almonds, and coconut, a 12.2% abv glass of smooth finish deliciousness.  The non-cask (bottled) version is available in limited supply at the brewery, and even without the almonds and coconut, it’s an outstanding value.  (I purchased one for an upcoming FL bottle share!)

Adroit Theory is DEFINITELY worth a stop based on the beer variety (a range of styles on tap) and the ambiance.  Merchandise available in the tap-room includes limited release bottles, t-shirts, winter headgear, glassware, and books.

 

2. Vanish Brewing/Black Hops Farm (42245 Black Hops Lane | Leesburg, VA 20176)

A truly organic hop farm and brewery operation featuring 4 acres of hops growing on structures fabricated out of recycled drilling pipe from Texas.

Inside the hop harvesting building sits the Polish manufactured/Slovenian-sourced hop picking and processing machine (purchased with the support of a VA state and Loudoun County matching grant) facilitates the 90 minute picking to processing timeline.

Brews include tangerine and orange brews, IPAs and a selection of always available brews.

My favorite was the tangerine on tap – served up in a six taster flight – Delish!  Merchandise available includes t-shirts, glassware, and other swag collectibles.

 

3. Delirium Cafe USA       (101 S. King Street, Leesburg, Virginia 20175)

This first of its kind in the U.S. – a formal location of the famed Delirium Cafe (Brussels) – hopes to be open “in 3 weeks”  (it’s been 6 years in the making) according to the owners/partners whose patience with licensing, contractors, and other delays is beyond the realm of most business people.  Their dedication to the craft of craft beer (in particular Delirium and other Belgian delights) carries over to their renovation of  a relic 170-year old building in downtown Leesburg.  Delirium Cafes in other countries are known for their brews but not their locations (often seedy) – and it’s nice to witness a new tradition in the making with this new locale.  It’s a standalone building (two suites were annexed into one) boasting hardwood floors and brick that creates a cozy, turn of the century, yet upscale/urban space that already feels like a trendy new spot even before it’s open.  I can’t wait to visit and try a few of their 25 draught taps and over 150 bottle varieties.

While the traditional Delirium Cafe in Amsterdam (and other locations throughout the world) typically focus on beer, this Leesburg space will also feature on-premise prepared food to go along with the fine brews.

Scheduled (for real!) to open this week (May 10, 2017!)  in downtown Leesburg, VA.

4. Lost Rhino Brewing Co     (21730 Red Rum Drive, Suite 142, Ashburn, VA 20147)

I love artistic spaces that celebrate beer and art and Lost Rhino is a perfect example!  Chalk art (by local Instagram artist “Chalkoholic Chalk Designs”) is everywhere creating an inviting and colorful tasting room.  If pictures say 1000 words, then the gallery below speaks volumes but doesn’t do justice to the innovation of the brews (more about that below,) and the ambiance created by the decor.

Lost Rhino Brewing gained international recognition in part due to it’s moniker “Rhino Chaser” (in surfer lingo it means seeking the largest wave) and due to the attention garnered by their “Bone Duster” Amber Ale, a 6.5% amber ale brewed with the yeast extracted from a millions of years old whale fossil.  The brew was featured in both the Scientific American Journal and PlayBoy’s 2014 online list of the World’s 10 most Interesting Beers.

In addition to creativity, support for Rhino adoption in Africa, and great brews, Lost Rhino also features live weekend entertainment staged in front of their lighted wall of empty beer cans (awaiting packaging.)  A must stop if you’re in the area!

 

 

5. Old Ox Brewing                (44652 GUILFORD DRIVE, UNIT 114,  ASHBURN, VA 20147)

According to the Old Ox Brewery owners (a family business named after a notable county road), the brewery caters “first and foremost” to their  customers in Northern Virginia with local package distribution.  As a 3-year old, community-focused company, Old Ox believes that it is more important to service their cadre of bar, restaurant and grocery accounts personally than it is to expand quickly, and they count their community partners and charitable causes as friends.

And they are innovative!  Old Ox’s imperial IPA embraced a bold step to brewing by using powdered hops (Humulus Lupulus) to gain a better batch yield.  IPA fans on our tour loved the brew, but as a non-hophead (come drink with me and you can have all the IPA’s!), I gravitated to the Funky Face Cherry Sour (a 5% ABV cherry sour) and enjoyed it thoroughly against the backdrop of VA cherry blossoms.

What a wonderful and delicious day it was – and a true testament to the imagination of craft brewers everywhere.  With 25 (and counting) craft breweries in Loudoun County (LoCo) alone, VA is becoming a BEERcation destination.

Many thanks to the Loudoun County organizers and the breweries who participated!

I’ll be back. 🙂

Belgian Beer 101 – For People who Love People who Love Belgian Beer

Ideas to Help with Holiday Giving…

Every year when holiday season rolls around and I’m browsing my local craft beer aisle for new brews, I watch nervous parents, grandparents, husbands/wives, and other adults aimlessly scanning beer labels in hopes of choosing just the right combination of beers for their loved ones who love Belgian craft beer.

Harried sales clerks are often too busy to repeat their picks to yet another clueless customer whose son/daughter/boyfriend/girlfriend loves specialty beer.  While it’s easy to pick up a six-pack of something local, many are looking for an introduction to Belgian Beer so that they can make informed choices.

Note that beer drinkers are like art lovers or foodies!  There are often style/flavor preferences that differ between friends and family members about their beer preferences: the light beer drinkers who buy whatever is cheapest in the 24 can pack (stop reading now,) those who prefer Belgian beer (this is for you and yours,) those who are American craft beer lovers (see my next blog post,) while some are just getting into the “beer world.”   

For those who love Belgian beer and those who love them, I compiled Belgian Beer 101 – for yourself (if you want to know more) or print out for a loved one who simply isn’t as knowledgeable or passionate about Belgian beer as you are.  (You can thank me when you finally get a delicious gift of good Belgian Beer !)

One point to note – if you or your recipient is into BELGIAN BEER – buy Authentic Belgian!  

Don’t be swayed by a bottle or package of Belgian-style American craft beer (unless you’re really on a budget.)  Belgian imported brews have unique flavors that come through generations of pride, tradition, barrel aging and often wild Belgian (in the air) yeast.  It’s like being transported to Belgium and living the good life!  For me, the
deep richness that comes with my favorite Belgian brews are worth the extra couple of dollars I might spend.  (It might sound snobby, but I like what I like.)

Still stumped?

petrus-aged-red1Create a gift basket or 6 pack of several different Belgian beers:  For starters choose different styles that show the diversity of Belgian beers:

  1. One bottle of Lambic (you probably won’t think it is beer because it tastes more like a fruity champagne-style drink than a “traditional” U.S. style beer.  This is a great choice for anyone who might have to share their gift with someone who “isn’t really into the taste of beer” (we ALL know people who say this!)  Brouwerij  (Brewery) Van Honsebrouck N.V. brews St Louis lambics:  Framboise (French for Raspberry) and Kriek (French for Cherry);
  2. A couple of barrel-aged  brews such as the Brouwerij De Brabandere’s Petrus suite of beers including  Petrus Oude Bruin, Petrus Aged Red (my favorite – it’s deep  amber color and sweet) and Petrus Pale ale.  If you or your recipient are a bit adventurous, you might want to take a look at the combination “Sour Power 6-pack” (it comes with instructions on how to blend the brews to get your perfect taste!);
  3. One bottle each of a Dubbel, a Tripel and a Quad.

This would give you a nice varied six-pack of small (11.2 oz) bottles. If you want to create a basket – 2 or 3 of the larger 25 oz / 750 ml (wine bottle sized) bottles or a large and a couple of small bottles, together with a couple of Belgian beer goblets or flutes that match the brewery (or blank ones) makes a great gift. (I’d choose one of the Brewery De Bradandere’s barrel-aged brews, plus a Dubbel and a Quad for variation.)

Happy holiday season, and please share, like, comment – and let me know if this has helped you with your holiday giving !  If you’d like me to send you a copy by email, send me a note at caroldekkers@gmail.com with the subject Belgian Beer 101.  I’ll also be doing a Craft Beer 101 in the next couple of weeks.  Are you interested?

As the Belgians would say:  à votre santé (to your health) or Proost! (cheers!)

Belgian Beer 101 – Page 1

belgian-beer-101-2

Belgian Beer 101 – Page 2

Part 3: Orlando North TTD (Things To Do) – off the beaten (theme park) path…

Want a change of pace from the Orlando area theme park lines, crowds, fantasy and hype?

Why not get off the beaten theme park path and discover some hidden gems a short drive from the big parks?

(This is part 3 of a trilogy of posts – see also Beercation:  Take a look at Orlando North Seminole County FL – a Stones Throw from Theme Parks  and Part-2: Food Worth Going out for — Orlando North Delivers Taste over the top )

Here’s a few notable Seminole County (Orlando North) ideas for your consideration:

Just off of I-4 East of Orlando, the Lake Mary Marriott is a perfect pivot point for both Orlando proper and theme parks and Seminole County towns and villages.  In addition to comfortable rooms, the Lake Mary site boasts incredible food and catering (including craft beer and food pairings for events!)  Here’s a few pics to whet your whistle:

  • CRAFT BEER BAR:  Celery City Craft (craft beer taproom, wine, growlers, bistro) -Sanford, FL

Sanford, FL was originally known as “Celery Capital” based on the celery fields a hundred or so years ago.  Today, Celery City Craft is THE place for a wide choice of over 100 local, US and international beers (draught and bottles) with wine and food available.  Without the pretentiousness of many newfangled “craft beer” boutiques, Celery City is friendly,  down-home and a great place to grab a brew or two and settle in with good food.  Beer flights (sample sizes of multiple brews served on a “paddle”) available.

Make an entire evening out of dinner and live entertainment by  visiting the newly opened Route 46 area – stop for delicious country BBQ (with many sauces!) and then stay for live band entertainment at the outdoor seating area or visit the indoor “saloon” complete with a turn of the century bar.

  • NATURAL ISLAND GETAWAY WITH KAYAKS AND BBQs (in a city neighborhood!)  – Wekiva Island – 1014 Miami Springs Dr, Longwood, FL 32779

Nestled against the Wekiva River, this close to zero carbon footprint recreation area features craft beer (25 local and national craft beer taps + over 100 cans,) wine, foot trucks (Check out Firepit Fridays!), kayak and canoe rentals, boot launch, cabana rentals (weekday and weekends,) event areas (think weddings, receptions, corporate events), a gift shop and weekend entertainment.  Bring the family and friends and spend a lazy day/evening in the wilderness against the natural backdrop of FL cypress, the slow-moving Wekiva River, otters with BBQs available with all cabana.  Check their website (link above) for special events and evening hours. Boat stowage available.

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One word for this craft beer and wine bar (come furniture store by day) – AMBIANCE!  When the sun sets on the fine furniture at Washburn Imports in Sanford, the bar opens and the place comes alive.  Aside from the incredible artistic bar (designed by local artist Blair Sliger,) the beer is fresh and local, the wine exquisite and the decor – well, think about sitting on heavy, expensive, imported wood furniture that eeks of Malaysia or the Philipines.  If I lived closer, this would be my #1 choice for a Friday or Saturday night romantic spot – even if I didn’t have a date!  A must see in Sanford… even if you just stop in for a single nightcap.

  • SOMETHING DIFFERENT WITH FRIENDS – LimoCycle.Com – Sanford, FL

Ever wanted to convince yourself that you are burning calories and improving your health during an evening of bar-hopping?  I’m not a fitness and drinking crazed person, so I always opt for the “no-peddling” seat, but the Limo Cycle is lots of fun and exercise.  Drinks are included with the price (as low as $40 per person) and reservations are accepted.  Tell Steve (the owner) I sent you – he’s a great guy and knows plenty about the local area history.  Options range from 2 hour pub tours, game events to 5 hour birthday party tours.  Whether you’re single, a couple or part of a group that wants to try something different – LimoCycle.com is a good option with lots of available potential stops (Sanford Brewing, Wops Hops Brewing, Celery City Craft, etc.)

#BBC2016 – #JAXALETRAIL – #BAYCRAFTED – #LIVEAMPLIFIED – Recapping the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference (Tampa) in Pics

It’s been exactly one month since the Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference (#BBC16) was here in Tampa, and, as a result, our entire bay area has benefitted from the hundreds of blog posts, publicity, beer pics, brewery visits, friendships made, beers consumed and follow-on business that any social media focused conference can amass.

It’s a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of such an illustrious group of passionate, optimistic and fun-loving people. For me, it’s also what I’d call “a happiness achievement” to consider so many beer bloggers and writers throughout the world my friends.  Thank you to Zephyr Adventures and everyone involved throughout the past 7 years who have made this such an inclusive and growing community!

I’m a visual, right brained thinker so I tend to remember things through pictures (looking at my camera roll is better than a calendar!) As such, I’ve combined my pics into a google pictures “movie” as a recap of the entire Thurs-Sunday July 7-10, 2016 weekend.  Enjoy!  (And thank you to Kelli Matheny @ladycrafter for the idea to use google pics movie app!)

PRE-Conference (Thurs July 7) Excursion – Jacksonville FL breweries:

Visits included Bold City Brewing, Engine 15 brewing, #Kickbacks Gastropub, Aardwolf Brewing, Wicked Barley Brewing…  Thank you to #onlyinJAX and #JAXALETRAIL for arrangements!

Day 1 Conference (Fri  July 8) – Tampa FL,

Conference sessions, Green Flash reception, Beer Paired Dinner Marriott Waterside, Trade Show, Night of Many Bottles

Day 2 Conference (Sat  July 9) – Tampa FL:

Conference sessions, WOB Westchase (Miller Coors) luncheon, Live Beer Blogging (J.J.Taylor), Progressive Dinner (Coppertail, Cigar City, Ulele Springs)

Day 3 — 1/2 day Conference and Post-conference excursion (Sun Fri  July 8) – Tampa FL:

Conference sessions, Post Conference excursion to St Pete Clearwater breweries: 3 Daughters, Green Bench, Cycle, Rapp Brewing

 

Thank you !!!

to so many organizers, breweries, wait staff, Zephyr Adventures, the Marriott Waterside, Jacksonville Ale Trail, Visit St Pete Clearwater, Tampa Bay Beer Crafted, trade show participants, speakers, moderators, distributors, and fellow attendees. It was so great to have the conference here in the Tampa/St Petersburg area and showcase the talent, innovation and truly hospitable FL venues in paradise!

Slainte!

Tampa area Breweries Get Ready – The Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference is only 3 weeks away!

Ever since I attended my 1st (and the first) Beer Bloggers Conference in 2010 in Boulder, CO, I’ve wondered if the event would ever grace the tropical shores of Tampa Bay, and this year (the 7th annual event) – the Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference does just that July 8-10, 2016 at the Marriott Waterside Hotel in Tampa.

Our Tampa Bay region joins many in the nation where craft beer (and cider and distilling) has exploded exponentially since 2010. The result is a $20+ billion dollar national industry that refuses to slow down.

growth of breweries 2015

In Mar 2011, the website BeerandWhiskeyBros.com wrote: beer and whiskey bros mar 2011

2016: Are craft beverages a “bubble”?

With over 15 states in the U.S. boasting over 100 functioning craft breweries (including Florida!), an exponential growth rate of breweries opening (see the curve above) and an emerging millennial (Generation Y) population of over 66 million residents whose preference is craft beer, it’s safe to say that it’s a bubble that’s here to stay.

U.S. Innovation Leads the World in Craft Brewing

For over 20 year I’ve spoken on software engineering, leadership and project management topics worldwide — and watched the U.S. move from a position of dominance to one of survivability as the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies beat us with their low labor costs in software development.  The innovation and imagination in IT (Information Technology) that once led us to a number one position, fell away when cost-cutting and outsourcing became the norm.

It’s that same sense of innovation, adventure and imagination that propelled U.S. craft brewing to the top of the world game.  Using techniques and styles reminiscent of old European recipes (German and Belgian styles in particular,) the leading U.S., craft brewers add imagination and stretch the boundaries of what once was a mass-produced, close-to-purified-water industry.  We’re at the point today where the craft brewing world looks to the U.S. for new ingredients, styles and collaborations.  In the U.S., Craft Breweries are defined by the Brewers Association as being small, independent and traditional.

Craft Beer Gives Bloggers and Writers Tons of Content

The gathering of Beer Bloggers and Writers boasts a range of writers and writing styles:  from professional reporters for big name newspapers and journals, to mom-and-pop blogs for independent beer stores, to blogs for distributors/wholesalers, to people like me with a passion for people and the industry.

As the numbers of us continue to expand, so too are the angles that craft beer provides to write about:  Reviewing beers, reviewing styles, covering festival events and bottle releases, stories about breweries and brewers,  pairing of food and beer, innovations in brewing, legislation in brewing, the 3 tier system, differences across the nation with beer culture, recipes, trends, techniques, homebrew, challenges in brewing, beer culture, products from related industries (glassware to growlers to homebrew systems to dispensers…) – the list goes on and on.

The craft beer industry is still expanding as new jobs are created, new breweries are opened, and new opportunities abound to educate consumers, entertain (through events and beerfests), and satisfy (through the variety of products and even beer-tourism) the burgeoning population of craft beer lovers.

And You’re Invited to Tag Along…

While many of the sessions and excursions at the Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference are limited to officially registered beer bloggers and writers, you’ll likely see a few events where the general craft beer loving public can take part.  One such pre-conference gathering is on Wed July 6, 2016 at 6;30 pm at the Brew Bus Brewing Terminal on Florida Avenue in Tampa where our own Florida Women in Brewing, together with Beer Bloggers, (and you!) are invited to stop by and mix and mingle over a pint.  Brew Bus Brewing is one of our newest local craft breweries and the terminal for one of our most popular and successful beer tourism companies, and has even won a medal at GABF for one of their brews!

Craft beer in Florida (and throughout the U.S.) presents a genderless, ageless, and culturally independent reason to get together, enjoy a few laughs and savor the goodness that barley, hops, yeast and water can bring to an ordinary workday or weekend.  And, in a matter of days, the Beer Blogging and Writing community will find out just how good that can be here in Tampa.  Welcome!

Slainte!

Carol

 

Prelude to Tampa Bay Beer Week… Mar 3 Food & Beer Pairing!

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Countdown to THIS Thursday- did you buy tickets? Food and craft beer pairing event Thurs, Mar 3, 2016 at Tapz and Tapaz in St Pete Beach.  Only 150 tickets, $25 advance, one night only – unlimited tapas paired with local craft beer! Join us!

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/all-tapped-out-tasting-extravaganza-aka-the-perfect-pairing-prelude-to-tbbw-tickets-22052597914?aff=efbevent

Tell your friends and join us!

We Want Brew! Fest – Feb 6, 2016 – A unique Craft Brew Festival to Benefit USO Central Florida

What do you get when you cross the experience of award-winning home-brewers with the creativity and passion of young service men and women?  The result is a one-of-a-kind craft beer festival to raise funds for a charity (USO Central Florida) committed to military families on Feb 6, 2016 (6-8pm) at the oldest St Petersburg craft brewery:  Brewers’ Tasting Room!

We Want Brew! Fest

WE WANT BREW! FEST
FEBRUARY 6, 2016   6PM-8PM

is the first ever craft beer festival that connects the Tampa Bay craft brewing scene with the military, laid out in two different sections:  The Tour of Duty and Band of Brewers Competition (see further info below.)  Guests will  to sample (until the kegs run out!) 20+ beers from local home-brew clubs and will vote for their favorite military team’s beer to decide the winner of the first annual Band of Brewers Competition.

BAND OF BREWERS:

Six teams from the Tampa Bay area representing each branch of the military are poised to compete against each other with individually brewed beer. Festival attendees vote for their favorite beer and one branch is declared Band of Brewers Champion.

Teams are composed of by team captains (award-winning home-brewers) and team members representing the air force, army, coast guard, marines, navy, and national guard/reserves.  These teams met during for a “Brew day” during Nov/Dec 2015 to brew their own secret beer recipe.  It is going to be a fun evening of sampling their results and networking with these incredible teams!

THIS JUST IN:
Rick Wolfe, owner of Brewers’ Tasting Room announced that the Winning team from the Band of Brewers will be invited to pour their beer at the BTR tent at Hunahpu’s Day 2016 on March 12, 2016 at Cotanchobee Park in Tampa.  May the best team win!

TOUR OF DUTY:

We have also engaged with local home-brew clubs to brew beers representative of the Coalition Force countries working with the US military around the world. These beers may be a literal interpretation of a beer from the chosen country or highlight a unique food or spice that has become synonymous with that country. This will certainly be a fun, unique and creative section to visit at the festival.

The following home-brew clubs are brewing several specialty beers to feature at the festival:
– Beer Can Island Brewers – Belgium
– Brandon Bootleggers – England
– PUB Guild – Germany
– St Pete Brew Club – Morocco
– Suncoast Barley Mashers – France


We have also invited our local professional breweries to donate gift baskets and other items for a fund-raising raffle!

It’s going to be an evening of camaraderie and gourmet beer tasting.  Coincidentally, Feb 4 is the 75th anniversary of USO serving military families, so the Feb 6 festival is apropos for our fund-raising efforts.

Please join us on Feb 6, from 6-8 pm to raise funds for the USO Central Florida!

**** Update:  If you live out of the area or you can’t make it to the festival, consider buying a “support” ticket (a tax deductible donation -ask for a 501c3 if you’d like to deduct it!) – on the same site for $20 (money goes to USO Central FL!) and you get to choose which team you’d like to support. The team that raises the most money wins a happy hour for 50 friends at Brewers’ Tasting Room.

Tickets (click on this link) are only $20 in advance ($25 at the door)  for unlimited tastings of the Band of Brewers brews and Tour of Duty home-brews!  Come out and support the teams and taste some of the finest brews in the Tampa Bay area.  (After the festival you can stay and purchase pints!)

Here is our link to the TV Channel 8 – WFLA segment that aired on Daytime on Jan 12, 2016:  We Want Brew! Fest

“Craft Beer: it’s not alcoholism, it’s a hobby” – HopCloth.com

This quote is so apt for this weekend!!!

How better to motivate me to quote more, write more, observe more, and share more on this blog than to attend a Beer Bloggers Conference?

I’m in Asheville this weekend with 100+ other writers/bloggers/community leaders from all over the U.S. doing just that. This is my 5th bloggers conference (I’ve only missed one since it started in 2010) and it’s a homecoming of sorts reconnecting with peers from almost every state who share my passion. #bbc15

Craft Beer is an amazing hobby that brings together passionate, optimistic, inspiring people with regular jobs, but who share the love of the world’s oldest purified beverage.

We gather annually in a vibrant city where craft beer is thriving (past cities include Boulder, Portland, Boston, Indianapolis, San Diego, and now Asheville,) and spend an agenda planned weekend of brewery visits, lectures, networking socials, and sharing.

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Here in Asheville, our day 1 included visits to Oskar Blues brewing and Sierra Nevada, where we hobnobbed with brewery dignitaries -‘thank you to both breweries and to all of our conference sponsors and organizers.

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I’m inspired to start trying new things with this hobby and I need your input (please and thank you)…

What would YOU like to see on this blog? Local brewery reviews/visits or events and photos or videos of places I visit or something different?

Here’s your incentive… I’ll pick a commenter at random and award s/he with some craft beer swag… So, go!

Tampa Bay Beer Week (#TBBW) Mar 7-15, 2015 – Shortcuts, Fun Events and VolunBEER Opps

tbbw 2015

Throughout the U.S., (and increasingly in other countries as well,) full-scale regional BEER WEEKS are becoming the norm.  With over 3000 operational craft breweries, Beer Weeks are definitely becoming TOURIST DESTINATION WEEKS!

Our local Tampa Bay Beer Week (#TBBW) is imminent (Mar 7-15, 2015) will again be a celebration focused on local Tampa Bay (30+) and Florida breweries (close to 100!) with a few notable anchor festivals on the first and second #TBBW weekends:

All told, if 2015 is anything like years before, you’ll be able to select from close to 300 events on both sides of Tampa Bay (and north and south to Bradenton, Sarasota, Tarpon Springs, Lakeland, and beyond) – visit the #TBBW website for up-to-date listings and  links about 2015 events.

VolunBEER (volunteer) Opportunitiessignup genius

If you’re short on cash or simply want to donate your enthusiasm and energy to making local craft beer events run smoothly (volunteer tasks range by event and can include registration help, checking identification, selling tickets, pouring beer, fetching ice, emptying dump buckets, door security and other jobs,)  you may want to join my VolunBEERs database (simply email your name, email and cell number to me:  caroldekkers at gmail dot com!)

 

What’s New for #TBBW in 2015DIPA TBBW 2015

For the first time ever, the Tampa Bay Beer Week board has commissioned a special beer to commemorate craft beer in Tampa Bay.  Brewed this inaugural year by Cigar City Brewing, the Double IPA (DIPA) is already available by the bottle at Cigar City’s Tampa tasting room, and will be available throughout the bay area at local #TBBW sponsors, bars and establishments (distributed by J.J. Taylor.)

Carol’s Event Recommendations for #TBBW:

  • Sat Mar 7, 2015: Florida Brewers Guild Beerfest (see links above) – Tampa
  • Sun Mar 8, 2015: Best Florida Beer presents Brewers Ball (see links above) – Tampa
  • Wed Mar 11, 2015: TBD. Recommendations to come!
  • Fri Mar 13, 2015:  Friday the 13th!  Recommendations to come!
  • Sat Mar 14, 2015: Hunahpu’s Day – Cigar City Brewing Company (see links above) – sold out! – Tampa
  • Sun Mar 15, 2015:  Recommendations to come!

Drink responsibly – designate a driver to get you and your friends home safely!

Cheers,
Carol

Hey Bartender, Real Women Drink Craft Beer

I love craft beer and the craft beer community – it’s uniquely optimistic, positive, creative, social, family oriented, pet friendly, gender-neutral, and open-minded. On average, craft beer drinkers are upwardly mobile (two-thirds earn over $75K a year, are between 26 and 54, and almost 50% are women.)

Certainly craft beer drinkers are no different from mainstream society: we face challenges with career, jobs, family and finances like everyone else, but one of the best parts about our community is that the quest for great brews, new tastes, loves and life dominate our gatherings!

Unsurprisingly, the craft brewing industry (breweries, brewers, distribution, retailers and bars) is dominated by men, but the latest statistics also show that a staggering 44% of craft beer drinkers nationwide are women!  And bartender, we’re knowledgeable women at that!

Bay Area Barley's Angels

It might come as a surprise to you to know that female craft beer drinkers are regularly “dissed” at craft beer establishments (all the above) by both men and women alike.  By “dissed” I mean disrespected, discounted, and disregarded as if we negligently ended up in craft beer places.

Two years ago when this started happening to me, I chalked it up to my superpowers of invisibility that comes with being an over-40 female with all-my-own-body-parts.  I was so frustrated that I even wrote a blog post about it:  “IWF (Invisible White Female) – The forgotten demographic.”

So, I was a bit surprised to discover,  via a Facebook discussion in a craft beer group, that the issue is widespread among women who are experts in craft beer.  Throughout the country, and across the world, we are often treated as if we don’t have a brain (or rights to be served,) – yet our money spends equally well.  And, even more surprisingly, craft beer men sometimes face similar treatment AND see what we go through.  It’s the beginning of a solidarity movement of sorts, but I digress.

real women craftReal Women Drink Craft Beer…

More women are moving into drinking beer, especially craft brews, at a faster rate than men, and are also becoming home brewers and cicerone trained.

Perhaps our quest for knowledge is because we don’t like to be told what to drink or feel overwhelmed at a craft beer bar.  The intimidation factor from male bartenders asking us “what would you little ladies like to try?” is part of the reason that women’s craft beer groups like Barley’s Angels and Girls Pint Out exist.

So, here’s what happened on Facebook

A friend (female) posted about her experience at a local liquor store.  Within minutes, a handful of responses came in with accounts of disrespect and dismissal by bartenders, clerks and others in the craft beer industry.   While I feel a sense of relief that my earlier findings weren’t personal, it was disheartening to find out just how widespread is the problem.  (And it’s not universal – there are bar owners who DO respect us, and retail outlets that treat us well… it’s unfortunate that there’s even an issue.)

The original post:

This one is for my fellow female fort members: I randomly stopped at ABC Liquors at <xx location> on Sunday just to grab something quick, nothing fancy, and as I was perusing the cooler a jack ass male employee sauntered up to me and said, “It’s quite the intimidating selection, let me help you.” I held back the urge to drop kick him in the chest and tried to politely brush him off but he kept on insisting and when he seemed to disregard my, “yeah, I’ve had that…I’m just gonna grab this Invasion and gose and be on my way..” response to all of his suggestions I finally, somewhat politely, told him to shut the eff up and walked away. Do you ladies get this a lot when you’re beer shopping? It happens on occasion but this bro caught me on a really bad day, so it stands out.

Can you imagine anyone treating a guy this way?  It’s hardly an isolated incident based on 75 comment responses… including:

I usually get shown all the new ciders they just got in. 

Happens to me all the time. I get– what kind of beer do you usually like and I want to say— F-er- I probably know more about beer than you do and I have had all your lame ass stuff here which is why I am looking for so long…..HATE that.

If a dude told me that, I would have laughed. Intimidating. I’ll show you intimidating.

It’s only happened a couple of times to me. Most places around here know me by now though. The last time it happened was at the ABC in <local community>. He was impressed that I knew what a west coast IPA was. Really? Sir, you have no idea who you’re dealing with now so just step aside and let me do my thing.

I’m usually standing there for so long trying to figure out which stand-by to go with or choose the lesser of all the evils. Male clerk described Invasion as “good for someone who likes IPAs but wants something a little ‘less'”. Da fuq does that even mean? And I have pretty good resting bitch face, especially that day. He must not pick up on social cues.

Male or female, no salesperson with half a brain should approach a consumer with such an assumptive attitude. “Can I help you find anything” “What do you have a taste for today” or even “What’s your level of beer knowledge” would be better openers, brah.

I hate the question– well- what type of beer do you normally like? Ummm…. Good beer….??? I am glad this thread was posted because I feel like this happens to me a lot. Maybe I look ‘beer dumb’.

I got it from a chic bartender at some dumb brew house restaurant. The kind where the beers are in categories that they don’t quite meet the expectations of.

My point was I was at a liquor store looking through their selection to FIND what I wanted to buy. I KNEW what I WANTED, as you just said, and I was looking for it. I don’t need someone to approach me and make a comment suggesting that their “intimidating” selection was too much for me to handle. It wouldn’t have annoyed me had he not been a douche bag about it. Yes, employees at liquor stores and bartenders are there to help you make a selection when you need help, but there’s an appropriate, not shitty way to inquire as to whether someone needs help or not.

Omg… Still better than in London UK when a male bartender responded to me when I asked about the cask brews saying “oh… these are much too strong for you … they go up to 7.2%… you’re going to want to try those blond ones at the other end of the bar” When I ordered the 7.2% plum porter he had a female serve it to me. Ugh. Yes, happens here in Tampa too, all the time, that is when I can actually get served. Bartenders are judgmental… And it’s part of why I won’t go to WOB , my invisibility powers are too strong there.

All.the.time. When I have my work shirt on(I work for a distributor) it totally flips the script. Then it’s a different type of attitude. Both are frustrating. It is what it is. The look on their faces when they have been “beer schooled” is and always will be priceless. I’m not a damsel in distress, I’m just trying to decide. Thanks for your concern!

OMG DON’T GET ME STARTED ON FEMALE INVISIBILTY POWERS AT WOB. 15 minutes, FIFTEEN MINUTES and 4 female WOB servers saw right through me one of the first times I went in there. They were eager enough to cash me out, though, and I said “No, thanks, this $10 tip is for Josh who was the one who actually waited on me.”

WOB is the worst for that. Happened to me tonight at xxx Brewery, too, though. Four chicks behind the bar, three people (including me) sitting at the bar. Ten minutes to get acknowledged.

From a male:  I am just being a a-hole all over this thread but as a guy, I have been in some craft beer bars whee I am invisible to wait staff too. It’s not always just a gender thing, just poor service .

It definitely depends on the bar. The female bartenders at WOB locations, in my humble opinion, seem to fit a certain physical stereotype, and typically fawn very obviously over the male customers and have zero craft beer knowledge.

Bottom line of my post <from the original post>it’s annoying when dudes in craft beer establishments/liquor stores automatically treat me (and other female customers) like they need to talk to me like I’m an idiot and think they need to hold my hand through the aisles and point out the “good beers” because I’m a chick. I am far from intimidated by ABC’s beer selection.

Another male response:  Barside invisibility can definitely strike across gender boundaries, yeah. In the sort of establishments that are most prone to that sort of behavior from the barbacks, I think it has more to do with whether or not you look like you have more money than sense. I’m a 6’4″ ginger dude, not exactly tough to spot in a crowd, and I’ve been ignored plenty of times. I must not look desperate enough to buy half a dozen Red Bull and vodkas for all the mad hawt chixx I’m totally gonna score with tonight. One time, I got so fed up that I pulled out the biggest bill I had in my wallet and waved it at one of the barbacks to get his attention…so that he could see me slowly put it back in my wallet, and slowly flip him the bird as I turned and left.

That said, it is absolutely positively 100% worse for women than men. Unfortunately, there are far too many servers who still assume that women are there to have drinks bought for them, not buy their own. And there’s no way any guy would be the lucky recipient of anything remotely like the persistent, condescending, and ham-fisted “assistance” of that ABC muppet.

Another male:  I’m really happy to see this conversation happen here! imo, this is exactly what the beer scene needs. up with inclusivity and respect, down with douchebaggery!

Stopped in at a pizza place in Dunedin that had recently remodeled, put in a bunch of taps, and was advertising craft beer, just to see what they had on tap (I was early for a hair appointment nearby). Walked in, was greeted nicely, and I replied that I just stopped to check out what they had on tap. Got the “Well, what kind of beer do you usually drink?” as the two of them stood there blocking my view of the taps. “I just want to take a look and see what’s on tap,” I said as I shifted to try to see the tap handles. “What’s your favorite beer?” “Really, I’m not staying right now, I’m just checking to see what you have on tap.” “Oh, so I stumped you. You can’t even tell me your favorite beer? Do you like light beers or dark beers?” “Can I just take a look at the taps?” “You don’t have a favorite beer?” “Yes, I do. The beer I brew…”as I walked out.

Totally different talk show, but that happens to me more than anything else. Even worse are the ones who tend to the male you’re with (if you’re with one) but ignore you completely. That happened at Revolution Brewing when I was in Chicago recently.

There was a female bartender at a place I used to hang out. This happened all the time. She would check all the males at the bar, make sure their drinks were full, then walk over to her phone and start texting or face booking or something. I’d have my empty glass right there. THE PHONE WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. THIS CHICK LITERALLY STOOD ACROSS THE BAR FROM ME AND WOULDNT SERVE ME. I pointed it out to the owner one night. He said something so I got beer with attitude. She messed with the wrong ginger. She doesn’t work there anymore.

Something similar happened to me yesterday at Total Wine, which I’ve never ever had a problem with before and maybe after reading your post now I’m more aware of LADY BEERS and ‘little ladies who can’t figure out what they want must need my help!’ mandrome. I’m staring at the seasonal releases, trying to determine “Which Dogfish Head do I get? They are all sounding fabulous…” To which of course a gentleman employee comes over to ask “Do you need help?” “Nope, just trying to decide what I want. I want them all.” “What do you normally drink?” “…..sigh…..All of them.” “Oh, do you like pumpkin beers?” and points to the other side of the aisle. “Lots to choose from, I’ve seen other women pick this one…..” to which the buzzer went off inside me and I just laughed a ridiculous cackle and I kinda yelled “I’M OVER PUMPKIN BEERS!” and laughed. He gave me a kinda ‘oh shit now what’ kinda look and said “It sounds like you know what you are doing. Holler if you need help.” and swiftly walked away. Ha! I may be short and blonde, but quiet and in need of beer help I am not.

Bartenders and others related to the craft beer industry are the worst offenders towards female patrons of any age, personality or looks.  Certainly discrimination occurs in other industries based on judgment of race, creed, color and gender, but in the craft beer industry – with almost half of imbibers being women – this is abysmal.

If this happened to men, I think it might be enough to raise network TV attention.

Just being female who drinks craft beer somehow signals us as being inept or stupid… and it’s simply not true! Despite the stereotype that women don’t know anything about craft beer, the service industry involved has no excuse for treating women badly.  We’re not hapless little ladies (or even a “baby girl” – that was the worst I’ve been called to my face!) – we’re craft beer drinkers who happen to be female!

“Wake up Bartender – Real Women Drink Craft Beer!”

What do YOU think?  Comments?

Ale and the Witch’s All Local Brewfest a Winner

local 662

“Wow, oh wow!”

That was the anthem resonating about the brews on tap for the inaugural Ale and the Witch’s All Local brewfest Saturday night at Local 662 in downtown St Petersburg.  Specialty collaborations and rare bottles were on hand from many of the 25+ local St Petersburg/Tampa area breweries – some never to be seen again.  Brett Andress, owner of The Ale and The Witch in St Petersburg put together a stellar line-up of brews and entertainment (The Applebutter Express) in an art nouveau space.

As often goes when I’m multi-tasking (coordinating volunteers, taking photos, networking and whatever else,) I don’t remember the specialty one-off brews I sampled.  But, I didn’t taste anything I didn’t like or want more of (which is rare.)

Nonetheless, between the Chocolate Peanut Butter offering from Sea Dog and the Green Bench Oude Bruin and the collaboration between Pair O’ Dice and Green Bench and the Cigar City specialty bottles, I was left with good taste, better times, and happy thoughts.

If you attended, please comment on your favorite brew!

Enjoy the photo montage below and until next time… be safe!

If a Beer Pic is worth 1000 words, How about 400 from Halfway There?

Looking to do something grand and beer-related on a sultry Saturday evening in downtown St Petersburg FL?   Tampa Bay Beer Week (#TBBW) and our supporters definitely did it up in grand style this past weekend!

halfway there logoSaturday, Sept 6, 2014 at the historic St Petersburg Coliseum marked the second annual #TBBW Halfway There Rare Beer Festival.  With the event capping attendance at 1000, we’re making our mark on the Florida beer scene.

It was an incredible event thanks to the #TBBW board and legions of others who donated time, beer, enthusiasm, and planning.

A big thank you to all my VolunBEERs who came out and donated their time, energy and heartbeats to make this an incredible festival for everyone!

VolunBEERs

With Tampa Bay Beer Week slated for Mar 7-15, 2015, we’re Halfway to incredible times ahead…But that’s still 6 months away, and we’re just getting started.

Saturday’s Halfway There fest featured rare and little seen (in these parts anyways) brews – local and international. This fest had over 60 confirmed breweries, 8 local home brew clubs, vendors, volunteers, and paid attendees who sampled, swirled, drank, and enjoyed what is fast becoming an incredible craft beer community in Tampa Bay.

Photo credits go to Tom Scherberger, Tiese Melton, and myself.

With close to 400 pics from the event itself, you can get a sense of the merriment and fun we had.

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While I don’t have pictures from The Ale and The Witch’s pre-party, I do have some from Hops and Props after-party:

Next up is The Ale and The Witch’s Local Fresh Brew Fest THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13, 2014) featuring live music, local brews, and lots of new friends.

See you there or at another upcoming St Pete/ Tampa area brewfest!

p.s., If you’d like to be added to my VolunBEER database (in case you live here OR you’re going to visit FL in the future and might want to volunteer) for future brew events in Florida, send me your name, email address, and cell number. It’s a great way to celebrate that Brews and Florida and Friends go together!

Cheers!

Carol

Similar and Different – Beer is Blog-worthy Both sides of the Pond

It’s hard to believe it’s been a full 3 weeks since I had the privilege and the luxury of attending the 4th Annual European Beer Bloggers Conference (#EBBC14) in Dublin Ireland, arranged by Zephyr Adventures (June 25-26, 2014.) While I more regularly attend the Beer Bloggers Conference in the U.S., this was my first venture to the European conference.

Other attendees already provided great recap blog posts about the events and breweries featured at the conference (see the Facebook Beer Bloggers Conference Alumni page and the listing at the end of this post.)

So as not to repeat my colleagues, I decided to focus on similarities and differences based on observations (and drinking experience) across the pond.

Thank you to Guiness, Molson/Coors, Pilsner Urquell and the many other sponsors, brewery owners, the Church Restaurant and Bars (our host venue), and everyone who made the #EBBC14 experience one to remember.  (Watch for more photos in the next blog post here!)

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Why I blog…

For me, the passion about beer comes from the people, the tastes, the stories and the community created by beer, and increasingly so, craft (or in the old school vernacular, “microbrew”) beer.

There certainly was no lack of passion at this year’s EBBC. Beer bloggers in attendance (around 70 or so) hailed from varied backgrounds, which is similar to those who attend in the U.S.  Beer bloggers (and craft brewers!) seem to attract a preponderance of technical professionals (IT and engineering) mixed with banking/business and beer industry representative.  We all have one thing in common – we share a passion for beer, which may be THE world’s oldest drinks.

Beer is a source of Cultural Pride no Matter How Old the Country…

As I am reminded every time I visit Europe, 100 years is recent history. Our conference venue, The Church in the heart of Dublin was hundreds of years old and hosted the wedding of Arthur Guinness (the patriarch of the Guinness Brewery) among others.

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Today, the structure is home to The Church bars and nightclub – an inventive recycling of a historic site and not a tear down/rebuild so common in the U.S.

I could sense bygone pomp and pageantry accompanied by reverberating organ chimes when I sat down at the bar the day before the conference began. It might seem to some to be bit irreverent to my religious upbringing, but I see it as a celebration of freedom and homage to the human spirit to imbibe a pint where the walls eek of stories and the full range of human emotion.

And, this weekend was one of celebration and coming together to feed our passions about beer.

Beer Opportunities (and Challenges) on Both sides of the Pond

The weekend posed a few good surprises and learnings compared to what I’ve experienced with craft beer, conferences, drinking habits and the craft brewing industry compared to the U.S.:

Concept Topic Europe (Ireland, other) – EBBC
U.S.  – BBC Observation/comments
Gender Bloggers and craft beer drinkers 10% female at EBBC   conference 1/3 female at BBC conference Not sure if this is a general trend based on consumers. In the U.S., I’ve observed an almost even split (40% female, 60 male) of craft beer drinkers at festivals and brewpubs. Based on bartender response, men are still the majority of craft beer consumers in the UK and Ireland.
Serving   preference Cask vs Keg for Craft Beer Keg dominates in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe except for the UK (due to the Campaign for Real Ale – CAMRA) Keg dominates – cask is a rare specialty. Cask is a rare specialty in the U.S., less so in Europe. Brewpubs/tasting rooms and bars in the U.S. may feature a single cask beer if any, and craft beer lovers will remark about the specialty beers on cask.
Beer temperature Beer temperature    and servings Temperatures ranged from room temperature to chilled.   No clear difference in professed temperature preference between various European countries. Pilsner Urquell catered to ensuring beer was colder by using ice chilled glassware The U.S. market prefers cold beer and will discard ½ pints that grow warm in the glass.  Koozies are popular (especially in southern states) Koozies are not common in Europe.   I handed them out to attendees from a local Tampa brewery (Six Ten Brewing) thinking they would be popular (they are in the US to keep beer cans/bottles/pint glasses cool.). A few attendees had never seen a koozie (more than one) and others said they’d only use it in the two weeks of summer. Warm beer doesn’t seem to raise an eyebrow here.
Innovation Emerging styles and flavors    – ABV Lager still appears to prevail over ales, but increasingly IPA’s, Oatmeal Stouts, and Saisons are becoming mainstream offerings of Irish craft brewers. ABV range typically from 3.8% to 7% Styles are all over  the map with ales leading the charge and sour beers, double IPAs and imperial stouts on the rise. ABV range typically 5% to 11% A reason for lower ABV could be taxes (one London brewer noted that brewery taxes increase per liter for every ABV above 5%.) This wasn’t the case in Ireland, but ABVs were typically less than 6%.Style variations are emerging on both sides of the pond.
Post-production Using Randalls (Hopinators) to instantly infuse kegged beer On the rise – positive response from beer bloggers On the rise – positive response from beer bloggers I’ve seen this in Florida, London, and Dublin, with different hops or fruit in the randall. In Germany (and in isolated instances in the U.S.) I’ve also seen syrups (especially fruity ones) added to beer
Cross pond  interest Interest in global beer market Lots of interest in U.S. craft beers (aka microbrews) – specialty brews (such as Dark Lord and Imperial Stouts) were common both sides of the pond Introspective except for Belgium brews. Not much knowledge (or interest) outside the US craft brewers (which given 2900+ brewers in the US might account for some of the attention) Craft beer lovers seem to be the same on both sides of the pond – fueled by the pursuit of great creative tastes and experiences. In the U.S., there isn’t too much known about the craft industry (in general) in Europe aside from Belgium. The U.S. seems to be looked at as the current leaders in the craft brewing industry.
Fresh beer to go Take out draft beer (growlers) Not yet too popular in Ireland. I rarely saw growlers for sale in bars. In the UK, I’ve seen a range (still not prevalent) of take away containers ranging from disposable plastic milk-containers to stainless steel growlers for beer Popular at craft beer bars nationwide but legislation limits the sale and distribution by state (including size of growler, who/where they can be filled, and if they are allowed at all) “Pub culture” is more prevalent in the UK and Ireland than in the US. Pubs are filled with suits stopping by for a pint after work (en route home.) Dublin is home to close to 10K pubs/bars.In the US market, many people stop off for “Happy hours” where draught beer may be discounted (5-7 pm typically), but not to the same extent.  Growlers seem to be a way of extending the U.S. social experience to home.

 

These were just a few observations…

and having not been to every country in Europe or every state in the U.S. to verify my observations, I leave it up to you to correct/challenge/add your comments. In the words of U.S. entertainer Dennis Miller “This is just my opinion and I could be wrong…”

Additional posts from #EBBC14 attendees: (partial listing)

It was a cultural and friendship growing experience to meet so many great beer bloggers and new friends at #EBBC14, and I hope we continue to stay in touch.

Your comments are welcome – I’d love to hear from other attendees (and the general craft beer community) about what you think!

Happy and safe imbibing!

Carol

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