Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

Posts tagged ‘Microbrewery’

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!

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Beercation? Take a look at Orlando North/ Seminole County, FL – Within a stone’s throw of theme parks

Quick!  When you think of Orlando, what comes to mind?

For me, it was theme parks, traffic, orange groves and Cape Canaveral – until I took a Beer and Foodie trip to Seminole County courtesy of DoOrlandoNorth.com/Seminole County Tourism, and Paradiseadv.com (thank you to Roseangela Santiago for Orlando North, Seminole County Tourism and Mary Jane Kolassa, Public Relations for setting it up!)

Having toured the local breweries in Seminole county – now I think “BEERCATION:  Seminole County.”

Sidenote:  This is the first of 3 blog posts stemming from the 2 1/2 day FAM trip.  Keep an eye out for additional posts featuring some of the best spots in Seminole County, FL.

First off, what’s going on with Beer in Florida ?

Florida is “home base” to over a hundred craft breweries including the one of the oldest in the nation: Yuengling Bros., several mainstay award-winning breweries (such as Dunedin Brewery, Tampa Bay Brewing Company, and Cigar City Brewing) and many new (less than 2 years old) up-and-coming notables.

Gerard Walen - Beer in FL

Fellow beer blogger and friend, Gerard Walen (who coincidentally was also on this FAM trip,) dmaintains and up-to-date FL brewery map on his BeerInFlorida.com site.  He is the author of Florida Breweries (a great read and a unique gift for anyone who is into craft beer and the stories behind the brewers, owners and the beers they brew!)

Florida is becoming a craft beer haven – especially when weather turns chilly in more northern climes.  Lately, there’s a beer fest or new brewery opening every weekend.  Seminole County is home to half a dozen well-respected breweries and craft beer bars – read on for details.

And, if you’re a fan of “Beer Weeks” (a week-long celebration dedicated to craft beer events) – you’re in luck because Sanford Beer Week is fast approaching: November 15-22, 2016.

Sidenote:  I took Facebook Live videos (you can see them on my timeline Carol Dekkers from Sept 20-23, 2016) but when I converted /uploaded them to You Tube for linking here, they became SILENT (or almost silent) movies.  When I get the link from the Seminole County television coverage (which was at all the locations) – I’ll update this blog posting. Meanwhile, thank you for your understanding!

A few notable Seminole County Breweries:

hourglass-logo

Hourglass Brewing is a 4-year old brewery that has been open at the current location for almost two years. They boast an impressive array of 15-20 innovative brews on tap (I can’t wait for the Cloudberry bottle release!) – all served in proper non-pint-glass glassware – and  a new barrel program (20 bbl foeder.) The tasting room space is wide open (two-story ceilings, lots of open space) and adorned with Star Wars and action figure memorabilia.  Glass doors to the huge bottle release cooler and windows showcasing the brewing areas add to the feeling of openness even when the taproom is crowded for their weekend live music and movies.

Interesting tidbits I found out about during our tour:

  • Head brewer Matt Gemmell started out as a bartender (with a passion and talent for brewing);
  • Marketing director Jeremy Gonzalez is also their label artist with a great talent for fantasy themed graphics;
  • All of the fermenters are named after Muppets characters;
  • The barrel program (new) will feature tequila, rum, gin, and Sauvignon blanc barrels;
  • The brewers like to challenge each other and have brewed batches beers with ingredients ranging from yarrow and cranberry hibiscus to rosemary, paprika and even roasted sheeps head.  The current selection on tap included two sours (yumm!)

My onsite video at Hourglass ended up with poor sound quality, but click on the photo below to open the slide show of brewery pics.  Worth a visit.

fam-trip-hourglass

wops-hops-logo

Oct 22, 2016 marked the 2nd anniversary of Sanford’s first brewery.  Co-owner and brewer Greg (who you’ll often find working the taps in the tasting room) is unabashedly proud of being the “Wop” of Wop’s Hops Brewing Company. Greg is a strong supporter of craft brewing in the area, and helped other breweries in Sanford get started.  Aside from the passion for brewing and supporting charitable community causes, one notable difference about Wop’s Hops is their on site kitchen featuring (thank you!) non-pub style food made on premise by classically trained Chef Jason.  It’s great to see a brewery that also takes pride in the gourmet selections (including a section for 4-legged doggie patrons.)

20160922_142704 20160922_143557 The day I visited, Wops Hops had a number of their own brews on tap ranging from their Peach Cream (one of my favorite peach beers!) and their Golden Stout (both on Nitro) to their Marshmallow Chocolate Peanut Butter Ale (think s’mores!) and IPAs.  In addition, there were several guest taps (which rotate.)

The food was amazing (thank you Chef Jason) and the tasting room was cosy and friendly. Outside is a dog and kid-friendly beer garden area.   A definite stop if you’re looking for good beer in Seminole Country!

While Wops Hops does not yet package bottles or cans for distribution, you can buy a Wops Hops growler filled to go – but with the great food options, why not stay and enjoy the brews on site?

The tasting room and beer garden are open Wed-Sun (see their Facebook page for special holiday hours):

Monday – Tuesday CLOSED
Wednesday 4:00pm – 10:00pm
Thursday – Friday 4:00pm – 12:00am
Saturday 1:00pm – 2:00am
Sunday 11:30am – 9:00pm

Here’s a quick video visit with Greg at Wops Hops Brewing:  (my apologies for the lack of clarity on the menu – it isn’t restricted or blocked out (even though it looks like it!) – that’s the Facebook Live video format…)

red-cypress-logoRed Cypress Brewery just celebrated their first anniversary and in our visit with Ryan Patrick, the owner and CEO, he mentioned that they are serious about increasing their mark on the Florida market with distribution (cans) plus crowlers (32 oz onsite cans filled to order and sealed to go) and growlers.  Current distribution includes Polk, Osceola, Orange, Seminole and Brevard counties (FL.)

The Red Cypress tasting room is smaller than the one at Hourglass, but larger than Wops Hops, kid-friendly (open spaces when it’s not crowded) with ample room for groups.  Food trucks and local delivery are available for food.

Red Cypress is entering into barrel aging with an expansive brewing and aging area behind the tasting room.  On tap the day I visited in late Sept were:

  • Deep Roots (lager like amber)
  • Fruit de la terre (Saison)
  • Spook Hill Pale Ale (named after the optical illusion in Lake Wales)
  • Devils Chair IPA (similar to Two Hearted Ale by Bells Brewing)
  • Death Roll Milk Stout
  • Summer Nights (a hoppy and delicious! peach wheat ale made with 1000 lb of peaches in the batch)

My SILENT video (I have no idea what happened to the audio!  It WAS there when I posted this on FACEBOOK Live!  At least you can see the venue!)  features Ryan Patrick of Red Cypress – definitely worth a visit to this brewery:

bowigens-beer-company

It was refreshing to meet someone as passionate about music (see the guitar in the logo,) innovative ingredients (you have to read their tap list), and the community as Bobby Bowen, co-owner/brewer of Bowigens Beer Company.  (I found it reassuring to find multiple Lyft taxi brochures throughout the tasting room including the front entrance to encourage responsibility and safe rides home for patrons.)

Bowigens is set in a renovated strip mall featuring an outstanding Italian restaurant: Vinzo’s Italian Grill and Pizzeria (the subject of a future blog post) so I could imagine spending long evenings doing my best to pair Italian food with the brews on tap (might take multiple evenings to do this justice!)

The tasting room is similar in size to Wops Hops in Sanford, and equally inviting and cosy.  The brewery is in the back and it’s clear that quality is a big focus as every brew I tasted there was fresh and true to style.  As the final operating brewery on our tour, it was great to note that all four breweries touted friendly service, approachable staff (who were happy to answer questions and provide understandable, non-techie answers – thank you!)

Bowigens is open every day and definitely a solid stop on your beercation in Seminole County.  Hours of operation:
Sunday | 3-10 p.m.
Monday | 5-10 p.m.
Tuesday | 5-10 p.m.
Wednesday | 5-10 p.m.
Thursday | 5-10 p.m.
Friday | 3 p.m. – midnight
Saturday | Noon – midnight

Here’s the on-location silent screen video with Bobby Bowen (my apologies for the lack of sound! but you can see Bobby’s passion in talking about his brewery – you’ve simply got to visit to hear his story first-hand!)

Sanford Brewing was not yet open for business but had anticipated doing so by November 1, 2016. Their seating rivaled that of Hourglass – topping out with capacity just over 150 patrons with live entertainment and a full kitchen in addition to fresh onsite brewed beer.

Check out Sanford Brewing at http://www.sanfordbrewing.com/

Whether you’re looking to round out a theme park/convention trip with some great beer or if you’re in the market for a Beercation that delivers the goods with personality and panache, Seminole County brewers will whet your whistle for more.   Sure, you can still head to a theme park (within a short drive) – but with the breweries I visited, why bother?

Let me know what you think!

Carol

A typical Beery Saturday in Tampa Bay… May 14, 2016

It’s an epic time to be a Floridian with a burgeoning craft beer scene and lots of events going on every weekend.  In fact, it’s been stated that on some weekends, there’s simply TOO MUCH going on, making it hard to choose where to go.

Today is no exception – there are three notable events happening and I’d love to be able to attend all three. Two are charity events and one is an out-of-state brewery event:

1. Barns and Beer Craft Beer Festival – Old McMickey’s Farm, Odessa (just north of Tampa)

**** TICKETS AVAILABLE AT THE DOOR ****barns and beer updated may 14

This is the second craft beer event for the farm (a 501c3 charity) to raise money for their charitable programs including military weddings, children’s camps, and a host of other worthwhile endeavors for the community.

In addition to unlimited tastings, entertainment will be provided by the Black Honkeys (a celebrated local band!) and there will be mechanical bull rides, egg races and more.  Professional brews from around Florida are the focus of the tastings.

I still need a few more VolunBEERs (you get in free in exchange for working 1/2 the festival to pour beer, work the gate, etc.) – here’s the link if you’d like to sign up:  http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c084da5af2caafa7-barns

Tickets available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/barns-beer-may-2016-tickets-22499606930

2. St Pete Beach Beer Festival

St pete beachThis is the second charity beer fest this weekend – this one focuses on homebrewers and their wares plus local breweries in the bay area.  A growing community festival worth checking out if you’re close to the beach.

Tickets available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/st-pete-beach-beer-festival-tickets-24607898888

3. Blue Point Toasted Tour

blue point

Blue Point Brewing is bringing their Toasted Tour (based on their flagship brew: Toasted Lager) and will feature entertainment and beer in downtown Tampa at Waterworks Park.

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1154253177946609/ 

General admission – No charge to get in, Blue Point beer available for $5.  – VIP Tickets available (includes beer.) but I couldn’t find a link to the ticketing site.

Enjoy your weekend responsibly!  I hope to see you out and about enjoying the best brews Tampa (and beyond) has to offer.

SLAINTE!

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?

My 2014 Summer of (Craft Beer) Love… Dublin, Edinburgh, Toronto, Las Vegas, Calgary

Growing up in Canada (where the drinking age remains 18-19) gave me the opportunity to experience fine Canadian craft beer before the term was even coined (it was always called “Microbrewery beer” way back then!)  Calgary’s Big Rock Brewing is over 30 years old, and continues to expand with their signature “TRAD ALE” still holding court among craft beer aficionados.  Getting my tongue wet by craft brews at such a young age might forge one into a beer snob, but I attest that even back then, craft beer was all about spreading beer love (and friendship) – one pint at a time!

Craft beer today is a culture, a grass-roots movement that spreads good taste, passion, and beer love across the globe.  Its fuel is creativity, passion, recipes, innovation, collaboration, good taste and the pursuit of the perfect pint (either 16 or 20 oz) – and supported by a growing community of positive people. 

.facebook_-149164741From my experience… When craft beer people get together (anywhere I’ve been in the world!)  boundaries, politics and negative talk simply melt (or are imbibed) away!

My 2014 Summer of (Craft Beer) Love… Dublin, Edinburgh, Toronto, Las Vegas, Calgary

For me, craft beer is a community of new friendships and tasting adventures that further my passion for fine beverage sensations worldwide.

With this in mind, I planned, for the first time in years, a true vacation (no work!) – and in 23 days I visited craft breweries and pubs in 4 countries:  Ireland, Scotland, the U.S., and Canada.

The centerpiece (and the main event of my trip) was the European Beer Bloggers Conference (#EBBC14) in Dublin Ireland June 25-26, 2014 – which I will get to shortly – but the overall four country adventure had many, many highlights:

  • PROMOTING FLORIDA BREWERIES: Introducing foreigners (strangers who become friends!) to Florida craft breweries and brews.  I took 50 koozies (thank you Six Ten Brewing) and 2 bombers of St Somewhere’s Lectio Divino Belgian brew (thank you Bob Sylvester!) with me to Dublin – the thank yous and accolades from #EBBC14 attendees were well worth the added weight!  I took advantage of a few photo ops (below.)
  • COLLABORATION BREWING OPS:  Meeting and proposing collaborations with brewers outside of Florida, and sharing creative marketing ideas I’ve discovered in my travels. Craft beer is (IMHO) an international wave that unites people with great taste and community – and collaboration brewing (brewing beer with multiple brewers and dispensing it where it’s brewed) gets the marketing message out without having to worry about import/export and distribution.  I’ve met many brewers who are waiting to connect to Florida brewers (ready to travel?) and who might come over for Tampa Bay Beer Week (Mar 7-15, 2015!)
  • CRAFT BEER LOVE: Spreading the “craft beer love” on planes, trains and automobiles (actually with people in the breweries and pubs I frequent – not in my car because it’s a 2 seater… just saying);
  • STORY TELLING: Sharing craft brew stories (the brewers, the creativity, the tastes, the  places, the challenges, and especially the positive, optimistic people behind the brews) with like-minded travelers;
  • BEER TOURISM: Spreading the word about Tampa Bay Beer Week (Mar 7-15, 2015!) to everyone I meet and raising excitement (and anticipation) of a stellar week of craft beer experiences (guarantee to be frost-free) – with so many activities here in the Tampa/St Petersburg/Clearwater area (Florida);
  • TASTES AND TRENDSDiscovering the similarities and differences with the craft brewing industry on both sides of the pond (see previous post); and mostly…
  • FRIENDSHIPS: Making new friends from all over who are as passionate as I am about craft beer (and who also, like me, don’t yet have day jobs in the industry.)
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Here’s a run down of my trip… country by country… hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  (Yes, next time I might need a bottle carrier – send me a note if you’d like to join in!)

Stop #1 – #EBBC14, Dublin, Ireland

I had a great time from the minute I joined in on the pre-conference Thursday night podcasts (3 of them) convened by Google Hangouts expert Ian Bergin (11 pm somewhere), together with Wayne Dunne (Irish Beer Snob,) Eric and Flo (#brewsweplate) and a few others who drifted in for part of the broadcasts.  We met up at Brew Dock where I also met Dorthe Woltermann (Dublin Ladies Craft Beer Society), Rachel Colgan (BrewDock Dublin) and others who were so friendly, they convinced me I was definitely in the right place at the right time!

11 oclock somewhere podcast

Two further installments of the podcast are available at 11pmsomewhere.com (thank you Ian Bergin!)

After an informal pub crawl through some of the best craft beer haunts in Dublin (thank you to Reuben Gray: Tale of the Ale for organizing,) the European Beer Bloggers Conference (#EBBC14) began on Friday and ran through late Saturday night.

By the time we finished on Saturday night, beer bloggers were rife with knowledge from lectures, lunches/dinners, excursions, Guinness, Pilsner Urqell, Irish craft beer, tastings of craft beer from abroad and legions of new friends. (The invitation to visit Florida is sincere – don’t forget to follow-up with me when the cold weather looms in your area!)

(Thank you to Allan and Cindy of Zephyr Adventures and the many sponsors, brewers, speakers, distributor reps, and others who made the weekend so memorable.)

 

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Stop #2: Scotland – Edinburgh, Sterling, Skye, Perth

The highlight of my Scottish stop (1 week) was the beer and the 700th anniversary (and re-enactment) of the Bannockburn battle (focus of the movie Braveheart!)

The cask beers I sampled at every city and the bottled beers I tried were all excellent (save for one that was mediocre on the train!) – here’s my photo gallery.

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Stop #3:  Toronto, Canada en route to Las Vegas, Nevada

The third stop was actually more of a drive-by (a 10 hour stopover in Toronto)  but there was still enough time to sample brews at a couple of craft beer bars.  My friend Ralph Robinson, of Barrie Ontario (home of Barnstormer Brewing which I’ll feature in an upcoming post) met me and was my tour guide.  Did you know that there are more than 25 craft breweries within the Toronto Metropolitan area alone?

We enjoyed two stops over lunch and dinner and met some delightful Torontonians (who were of course non-natives), great brews (I’ve been searching for Caffrey’s Irish Ale on tap for several years!) – and a world cup broadcast (Netherlands and I can’t remember….)

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Stop #4:  Las Vegas, Nevada

This stop was a 4 day whirlwind (late July 4 – July 8) mostly to unwind and relax poolside (Planet Hollywood) with my Florida friend Dawn (whose family lives there!)

Of course, I was compelled to check out Sin City Brewing Company (great craft brews with two tasting rooms right on the strip) – where I hung out one evening and then met the brewer/owner Rich Johnson the next day.  Nice to know that even in Sin City you can find good Double IPA’s on tap!

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Stop #5:  Calgary, Canada – Stampede Week, Family and more Craft Brew Love…

I love that Big Rock Brewery always has innovative beers of the season (they are expanding now into British Columbia and are the oldest truly “craft” brewer in Canada) – including last years Rosmarinus Ale (with Rosemary!) plus an array of ever-expanding craft brewers.

I found myself drooling (again) as I browsed the shelves at Calgary liquor stores (privatized and no longer government-run!) and picked up several limited edition brews.  Highlights included Stampede week (the 10 day “festival” with ample beer flowing, wannabe cowboys everywhere, and entertainment – front row standing watching Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20!) – and a visit to Canmore (in the Rocky Mountains) Grizzly Paw Brewing Company.  (Coincidentally, the bartender Megan there knew my friend Ralph from Toronto and the brewmaster at Barnstormer Brewing in Barrie Ontario – small, small world!)

It’s great to visit family and be able to spread craft beer love north of the border too!

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Home again… Until August and #BBC14, San Diego

3 days, 4 countries, weight gain, fabulous memories, and so much craft beer adventure.  The next excursion is San Diego in late August (2.5 more weeks!) to the Beer Bloggers Conference where it will be a homecoming of sorts with U.S. based peeps.

Meanwhile, sunsets and suds prevail…  I love my life – and I love craft beer!  Thanks for reading!

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Have an awesome week and be safe!

Cheers!

Carol

Pinch me! Ales and Tales of Dublin and Edinburgh and Toronto Await…

One more day… and then I am off to a three-week adventure involving beer passion, friends and family (in that order!)

I feel truly blessed to be able to attend the European Beer Bloggers Conference in Dublin, Ireland this coming weekend with an agenda that rivals none, followed by a few nights outside Edinburgh, Scotland (for the 700th anniversary of the Bannockburn battle!), followed by a stopover with a good friend (and more craft beer) in Toronto, followed by a few more nights in Las Vegas with friends, followed by a week up in Alberta with family (and a few craft brewery visits.)

bbc europe I get asked weekly why beer is my passion and how I’m earning from the pursuit of fine craft ales, and the short answer is that I love the taste of craft beer and I love the community of entrepreneurs and inventors behind it, and to-date, it’s a pursuit for the sole interest and joy of the craft.

I am fortunate to have a solid career in software consulting (enabling me to work anywhere -home or away), that allows me to pursue my hobby worldwide.

BrewStat

BUT, I would love to parlay what I’ve done for years in the software industry (speaking at international conferences) into a career in the craft beer industry on behalf of a Brewers Guild or the American Craft Brewers Association or a similar group in Europe, Asia and North America.

Where we’re at in the U.S. with Craft Beer…

Our domestic craft brew industry is, as you already know, exploding with flavor, innovation, and creativity, and it’s a beautiful thing.

At home in Florida, challenges emerge with legislation, funding, and big beer domination, but the tide is turning.  We have passionate brewers, consumers and a cast of workers bringing it all together.  As a nation, craft beers fuels a proud and emerging community that contributed over $10.2Billion to the U.S. economy in 2012/13.  And we are leading the world in a way unseen since the wine revolution propelled Napa Valley to stardom.

I can’t Wait for the Weekend…

The U.K. and Europe face different issues that we do in North American, CAMRA has emerged as a 170,000 member force in U.K. legislation, and brewers are taxed based on the ABV %.  But, the quest for good taste, creative recipes, community and innovation pervades the issues – and this weekend’s lineup of events and lectures is inspiring.

Watch this space for updates, photos, comments, and links… I’ll take you along on my journey and pursuit of fine brews across 4 countries in as many weeks (and have a happy, safe, 4th of July!)

Cheers,
Carol

Celebrating FL Brews in London during American Craft Beer Week May 12-18, 2014

When I spoke to Brett Andress of The Ale and The Witch, a fantastic craft brew pub in St Petersburg, FL last week about American Craft Beer Week, he remarked that “It’s craft beer week EVERY week here at The Witch,” which, of course, is true.

For the rest of us, the craft brewformation (see my earlier post “From God’s Waiting Room to God’s Tasting Room, the Brewformation of St Petersburg) is just coming of age and having an entire National Week devoted to Craft Beer couldn’t come soon enough.

For me, I’m celebrating American Craft Beer Week over here in the UK (where I’m working this week) – but I’m spreading the news of Florida craft breweries in every pub I visit.  It’s certainly easier given a few props (and having the delicious desert-like Siren Brewing UK and Cigar City Brewing FL’s collaboration brew – Caribbean Chocolate Cake Stout – on tap in several places!)

 

For those of you in the U.S. (and in the Florida legislature and senate!), here’s a “legislative style” document I can support:

American Craft Beer Week

For our legislators throughout the U.S. (such as FL senators who support Big Beer, and Minnesota lawmakers who just made growlers illegal!) and for all of my readers, the video link below shows just how prominent American Craft Brewers are! (Sidenote:  Only one of the 100 Florida breweries, M.I.A. Brewing, was included!)

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You may want to turn down the sound (I hate the kazoo-like musical theme), grab a fresh Florida pint, and enjoy the show!

ACBWAmerican Craft Beer week May 12-18, 2014

Have a great and safe week!

-Carol

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