Blog-ucation in Asheville

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Clockwise from top: Brian Grossman leads brewers on tour of Sierra Nevada Brewing in North Carolina, Kim Jordan addresses bloggers, the outdoor tasting room of Oscar Blues Brewing in Brevard, Ken Grossman (goateed, on left) addresses bloggers.

Some mock blogging as self-centered and self-serving. It’s true that there are those who turn to blogging as a way to marvel at their own words online or try to attain free dinners or gadgets. The same can be said of beer bloggers, of course. We’re just in it for the brewery access, the rare beers, and free glassware. I would argue that I am in it for many things. After three days in July of intense beering and bloggery, I was reminded that two reasons are camaraderie and education.

The event was the sixth annual Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference (they added “& Writers” this year), which welcomed about 150 “citizen” bloggers and writers, along with others who represent brewing entities. We took part in seminars at an Asheville, North Carolina, hotel — Four Points by Sheraton. We also drank a whole lot of beer, but for the most part in reflective ways. Speakers included Kim Jordan, president of New Belgium Brewing Company (which is set to open a brewery in Asheville next year); a representative of Budweiser (Huh? I’ll explain…); and a variety of bloggers with tips on professionalism and improving style. Road trips included tours of the expansive Sierra Nevada Brewery in nearby Fletcher, and the hulking Oscar Blues Brewery in Brevard.

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Among all to choose from, which CT beer should I bring?

A selection of (mostly) CT beer from Bottle Stop in Torrington, Conn.
A selection of (mostly) CT beer from Bottle Stop in Torrington, Conn.

After 10 hours of driving I just have a couple more to go before I reach Asheville, NC. That’s where the Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference is being held this year. And if you think bringing a gift to a friend who has everything is pressure, you can sort of imagine how I felt when I needed to choose a Connecticut beer for our bottle share.

There are plenty of choices, at least compared to how CT beer was just five or six years ago. So many questions: Would they want to try something exotic? Do they want the most bitterest of bitter? Do they want the one with the weirdest ingredients? Bottle or can?

In the end I didn’t overthink it. I went toBottle Stop in Torrington and scanned my choices (see picture). I chose the Ginga’ Ninja by Black Hog of Oxford, and because it’s my favorite, the Porter by Back East.

Looking forward to a fun few days!