You can talk about beer and beer writing for only so long, right? Think again.
On day two of the Beer Bloggers Conference ’13 in Boston, I got myself educated about how best to reach… you! Yes, you, whoever you are. Part of my new mission was to find out who you are, what you want, and how you want it.
And later on, I drank like a fish.
We were assembled at the beautiful Boston Park Plaza Hotel. Presenters in a big room at with inconvenient poles and round tables with power strips on them used PowerPoint slides to demonstrate the state of the beer blogging industry (such as it is). They analyzed a bunch of nifty charts created from research by Zephyr Adventures (who organized the conference) and we found out that for the most part beer bloggers are married American dudes in their late 20s to early 40s with no kids and employed full time.
Yes, this does sound creepily familiar…
Beer bloggers apparently measure success with “personal satisfaction,” which far outpolled “revenues.” In other words, we’re psyched about beer and we’ll take pictures and write words about it, and if we have to spend our own cash to keep up the nifty lifestyle… yes, please.
We needed to learn the art of blogging successfully by using social media. So representatives from Drink Craft Beer and RoundPeg taught us ways to maximize our potential. Unfortunately for me, what they said sounded something like we need to “cross-platform our SEO with our InstaTumblring with hashtag analytics to out-Klout the search dynamics.” All very Pinteresting, but it’ll take time for me to process.
Drinky perks of the Beer Bloggers Conference ’13 came in the afternoon.
After a tremendously filling tasting pairing lunch organized by the National Beer Wholesalers Association, we bused it to Burke Distributing/Massachusetts Beverage Alliance, a beverage distribution warehouse. We sat at some more big, round tables and allowed eight perfectly pleasant New England-based brewers and brewery representatives to talk to us for five minutes at a time, all while pouring beer down our throats. It was called “live blogging,” since we were supposed to try posting our impressions in the moment, but it felt more like speed dating.
The reps were plumb tuckered out by the time they were done giving us their stories over and over again. There were hippy brewers, passionate local representatives, and two young husband-and-wife teams. We shot back glasses of their wares and I tried to scribble and get pictures on my phone, but it got a little tricky, so I just drank. I was happy to try a Thomas Hooker Brewing wine barrel-aged saison that I’ve never seen in Connecticut. It was crisp, tart, and satisfyingly boozy in the finish.
Back on the bus and there were some who were starting to nod off. Some hadn’t slept for two days after
partying networking in Maine. In a busride’s moment of reflection, I thought about what a sacrifice it was for some of these citizen bloggers (the ones who didn’t have a company paying for them to attend) to come to Boston. I had a two-and-a-half-hour drive; some of these had to change planes in Kansas City to get here. I looked at my fellow bloggers, who were joking and trading stories, and felt kind of moved.
Anyway… when we made it to Harpoon Brewery, we were actually received by employees holding tasting glasses of Harpoon IPA. We were ushered into a quick tour and a self-guided tasting of sorts at long tables, where we supped. I enjoyed the cheese-pairing, especially the Harpoon Rich & Dan’s Rye IPA with the Windsor Blue with gorgonzola. I’d never had a cheese that stinky paired with anything that sharp and crisp, and while it fought the cheese’s nuttiness, it still worked.
Unfortunately, I could not stay for the final morning’s presentation by Cicerone Certification Program director Ray Daniels, but I still came away from the conference inspired and connected. I met some great people with some wonderful, informative blogs. I had a chance to talk with some great women, especially, who are among the most insightful beer bloggers around. Beer Babe, Brooklyn Beer Bitch, and NW Beer Babe were very helpful. I reconnected with Hipster Brewfus (formerly of Connecticut) and learned a lot from Coppertail Brewing cofounder Robb Larson, who has his own blog, and RoadTrips4Beer writer Gerard Walen.
If you’re thinking of attending a writer’s conference, beer or otherwise, do it.
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