Sunday, August 5, 2018

Road Trippin': Off to the Beer Bloggers Conference in Virginia

This year's offerings from Michigan.

We're packing up the beer – and those other trivial things like clothes, toiletries, etc. – in preparation to leave for the 2018 Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference. Yes, this is a thing, and yes, it happens every year, in a different beer-friendly place somewhere in America. This year it's in Loudoun County, Virginia, known for being the "wine country" of Washington, D.C., but apparently it's not too shabby in the beer department either (two dozen breweries and counting).

This will be my third time attending the conference, and Amy's second. Much has changed in the world of beer (and beer writing) since my first time at the #BBC (as it's known to all us social mediaites) in 2014 in San Diego (and Los Angeles), which I was able to attend gratis thanks to the NBWA and mobilizing enough friends to vote my writing as the bestest (he humblebragged). But what I expect hasn't changed, and won't change, is the fun people and opportunities for learning.

One thing I'm pretty excited about is the chance to return to the Virginia/Maryland/D.C. area for the first time in nearly 20 years. Needless to say, there wasn't a whole lot going on beerwise during my last visit in 1999. For example, Richmond, where we'll be visiting after the conference proper, had, I think, one brewery, which is no longer there. Today Richmond is recognized among beer dorks as an amazing beer destination. In D.C. itself, there were no breweries at all (unless you count the brewpub District Chophouse), but ever since Grizzly Peak veteran Jeff Hancock and co. opened DC Brau in 2011, the floodgates opened, and now there are something like seven or eight just within the confines of the Swamp.

Last year's conference in Milwaukee.
As with last year's conference, which was in Milwaukee, we're driving out and hoping to hit some spots along the way. The conference organizers have helped us out a lot by booking several pre-conference excursions, including a visit to the new Guinness brewery in Baltimore and an evening at the Dogfish Head Inn in Delaware.

The conference itself begins Friday, August 10 (following a Thursday night kickoff party at a beer farm! No, really). As usual, Zephyr Adventures (the organizers) have assembled a great lineup of speakers, including keynoter Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head fame, and the Brewers Association's Julia Herz, who always gives the #BBC blessing. There are also some topics I have a particular interest in, including how to drink lagers like a boss, how to deliver negative beer feedback, how to navigate Instagram, and how to start a podcast. We may be so damn inspired Amy and I finally end up founding a media empire when we come home. Or at least a new blog (stay tuned).

We're also looking forward to seeing friends from around the country we've made at previous conferences. Truly, that's one of the greatest things about this event – meeting others who share the same passion for good beer that we do.

Me, Amy, and our friends Chris and Jeff from Bottle Makes Three.
Follow our adventures here and via Facebook and @allthebrews on Twitter. And, if you think of it, say a prayer for our livers!

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