Off to Boston for the Brewers Conference

We just spent the weekend at my parents, where we left our son Liam and our dogs (Maggie and Cody) behind for a week of spoiling with the grandparents.

We get into Boston on Monday and plan on hitting a few pubs in Cambridge. We’re staying in east Cambridge, just across the St. Charles from Boston. Our schedule looks somewhat like this:

Tuesday: Brewery tours in New Hampshire during the daylight hours. This includes Cape Ann Brewing, Smuttynose Brewing, Redhook Brewing and Portsmouth Brewery. Okay so all are not in New Hampshire, but you know the saying. “If a bar (brewery) is on the right on side of the road…    …turn in.” In the evening it’s the Welcome Reception hosted by Harpoon Brewery.

Wednesday:Things start out with the Welcome and Keynote Address by Greg Koch of Stone Brewing. Then we’ll hit the BrewExpo followed by a bunch of seminars. I’ll have more on the seminars after we get back home and sober up. The seminars are broken up by some hospitalities. Hospitalites = beer and food. The evening has the Boston Beer Brewery Party in store for us. Guess who is hosting it? Just one guess.

Thursday:More seminars, a members meeting, more BrewExpo. More hospitalies. The evening? MBAANew England Cask Night hosted by Harpoon Brewery. Mmmm.

Friday:More seminars. No hospitalies – like I’ll need another beer. But in case I do, the late afternoon has the Closing Reception. Closing Reception = beer, food and friends. Later in the evening is the New England Brewers Night hosted by Harpoon Brewery. The perfect send-off by the great folks of New England.

Saturday:Catch a ridiculously early flight back to the Twin Cities and pick up our son and dogs from the Grandparents. Then we will begin reflecting back on the conference while breaking everyone of bad the habits that Grandpa and Grandma think is cute.

I’ll not have much time in Boston to blog, but I’ll send out a few tweets on Twitter now and then.

I gotta go, I need to finish the last glass or two of Classic American Pilsener left in the keg before we go.

Beer Geek – Craft Beer Gatekeepers

A beer geek is often the first person to consume a new craft brewer’s beer. A beer geek can be a home-brewer, a beer blogger, a beer cicerone, a beer snob, all of the above, none of the above. If you are reading this, you are most likely a beer geek. Most of the feedback a craft brewer receives is from beer geeks. Beer geeks are at brewery events, at festivals, at tastings, at beer dinners, volunteering, talking your ear off, and so forth. It seems like beer geeks are everywhere.

 

Unfortunate for brewers, beer geeks are not everywhere. Unfortunately for brewers, the beer geeks are only a small fraction of total beer consumers. This is not a total loss. Beer geeks go out of their way to try a new or local beer. They have many social ties like home-brewer clubs, tasting clubs, blogs, magazines, and chat rooms. The best thing about beer geeks is they are passionate about beer and are constantly talking beer with friends, many of whom happen to be macro-beer drinkers. Depending on the craft brewery’s size and styles of beer brewed, you may need this connection to the macro-beer drinker. Why? As I see it, the macro-brewers are losing market share and the craft brewers are gaining market share, so these macro-beer drinkers are, in sense, up for grabs. Sooner or later, a macro-beer drinker will have a gateway-craft-beer experience.

 

I believe beer geeks are one of the leading factors in causing a macro-beer drinker’s gateway-craft-beer experience. Sooner or later, their enthusiasm rubs off on you and the next thing you know, you’re sitting at a beer bar ordering something goofy. And just maybe you like it. That’s kind of how my gateway experience transformed me from macro-beer drinker to beer geek. I used to seek out the on-sale beer, now I seek the new beer, the what-haven’t-I-tried beer and the what-did-so-and-so recommend beer.

 

As a fellow beer geek, I do my share of promoting craft beer. In a recent conversation with a macro-beer drinking friend about how Miller High Life Light taste like water compared to Miller Lite, I recommended comparing Miller Lite to New Glarus Spotted Cow Ale. Another friend asked for advice on some different sour ales. I recommend some to her that I like. Some she liked. Others she described as, “It taste like feet, sweaty feet that have been stomping on cherries and I’m licking them.” Either her experience wasn’t that bad or she has a foot-fetish as she continues to try more sour ales.

 

Beer geeks may not be everywhere. But they’re there when you need them.