Day two started with a hearty breakfast to soak up the night before where a night of international beers had kept me busy until the early hours, a swift trip to Mr Whetherspoons fine diner sorted that out..
Saturday’s agenda was to be slightly more conventionally conference up until 5PM. Still we had beer to help us along with some interesting sessions commencing with a discussion on where next to take beer blogging should you so wish, led by Zac Avery, Marverine Cole and Mark Dredge.
Stuart Howe delivered a fine keynote speech to an almost silent conference, eager to hear his story. The final session was definitely the most useful though as in the wrap up we all questioned each other. Debates raged about the ethics of free beer, the do’s and don’ts, basically anything and everything…Loved it!
10:00 AM Blogging – Taking It to the Next Level
11:00 AM Technology – Social Media and Your Blog
12:00 PM Lunch on your own
1:30 PM Industry – The Current State of the Hops Industry
2:30 PM Keynote Speech with Head Brewer Stuart Howe from Sharp’s Brewery
3:30 PM Wrapup Group Discussion
5:00 PM Tasting – Live Beer Blogging
We then came to what was to prove a test of a bloggers manual dexterity and nerve, live beer blogging. A test I have to admit I failed at miserably with my ham-fisted mash the keyboard approach to Mavis Beatons typing, plus my inability to concentrate on more than one thing at a time..
Picture the scene, we sat at our numbered tables, laptops, iPads, phones and notepads at the ready. At the back of the room 10 breweries represented by brewers, marketeers and helpers. Each had one beer of their choice with which to woo us all, they had 5 minutes to pour and sell the beer to our collective senses.
We too had the same 5 minutes to listen, smell, taste and scribble down our thoughts on paper or better still live to a blog before time was called and they all moved on..
10 beers, 50 minutes BOOM! Result, no blog for Phil, I managed rough notes for three beers before giving in to the inevitable..
At this point it all got a little exciting as at first the guys from Marble Brewery approached with an unlabelled bottle of what I soon found out to be Earl Grey IPA. I hadn’t tasted this before but knew of it’s existence, brewed in collaboration with Kees Bubberman of Hollands fine Emelisse brewery. Fresh and fruity with a slight hint of floral tea, think Marvel not Marble.
The best was yet to come though when next the brewers moved tables, enter Roosters Brewery with Baby Faced Assassin. To British beer geeks this needs no introduction but I’m not sure if any made it to Europe, USA, etc. The classy flier below explains it all better than I can, for reviews try some of these: here, here, here and here or just plug it into Google.
It had extra significance to me though as I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to rare beers, I save them until “that moment” but often that moment is too long and some beers are best drunk fresh. I managed to get a bottle of the original about a year ago now and you’ve guessed it, it’s still waiting to be drunk. Speaking to Tom and Oliver (the brewers) gave me some reassurance, they opened one about a week ago which had stood the test of time, I can’t wait much longer though..
Anyways to cut the waffle, I was excited alright, it was here, fresh and on perhaps a once in a lifetime cask, it was awesome, made my day. Privileged…
There were two more beers that I failed to photograph, perhaps because they are so well known, or perhaps I just forgot.. Slaters Top Totty and Adnams Ghost Ship, no offence intended both tasty and enjoyable in their own right.
Frenzy over as time was at last called on proceedings, all the brewers retreated to the back of the room, where we were invited to join them for further samples and a chat under less stressful conditions. Guess where I made a bee-line for… But someone beat me to it…