The Beer Bloggers Conference is a gathering of writers, bloggers, columnists, media, and public relations professionals with the unified goal of growing online craft beer media. Thanks to the support of friends, family and the Maine Beer Community, I will be able to attend this year’s event in San Diego, CA.
Last year the conference was held in Boston, MA and included e a pre-excursion in my own “backyard” of Portland, Maine. I paid to attend both the conference and preconference until I was contacted by Boston Beer Company and told that I won a scholarship to attend. I was refunded my travel and attendance costs and was able to enjoy an incredible learning experience in Boston with many industry experts.
There were many events last year that were excellent learning experiences. For instance, the 4 course beer and food pairing was phenomenal and the first time I experienced such a well put together pairing of the two. It was the brain child of a level 3 cicerone from Boston. I love how the 4th and final course was a Boston Creme Pie paired with Portland’s own Allagash Black.
This year the conference is in San Diego – which, compared to the previous year, would me a significant increase in cost of attending – nearly twice as much even to get to the conference location. . I initially told myself that I wouldn’t go and left it at that. At that time I had discussions with other bloggers about community-based fundraising campaigns, and the importance of being able to attend professional development and networking. The bottom line was that it was expressed to me that the local craft beer community would be willing to support the education of a local writer – because better writing and increased training has benefits beyond the writer as an individual. I then created, with feedback from others, Rocket Hub campaign clearly listed the fundraising goal, rewards, and the benefit to my professional development. . After 4 weeks I raised $761 after site fees and taxes thanks to many local breweries, beer-centric companies, friends, family, and people who thought my cause was worthy of donating to. In addition, there were a few people who physically gave me money toward my goal during the 4-week campaign totaling $60.
During the fundraising, I worked with Richard Reynolds and his media company 30 Days Later to create a professional quality video reaching out to the community and requesting for donations. We used a two-camera synched set up with professional audio. Richard created the graphics and together we created a great video – which was a learning experience in its own right
After the initial fundraising campaign on Rocket Hub a newly opened local brewery messaged me with an idea of how to raise more. Barreled Souls, a barrel-fermented-only brewery out of Saco Maine, wanted to host a tabletop shuffleboard tournament with a portion of the proceeds going to my trip to the Beer Bloggers Conference in San Diego. Matt Mills and Chris Schofield, owners of Barreled Souls were incredibly generous for the offer to help. Before this I’ve never played shuffleboard, let alone the tabletop type. When planning the details of the event I learned how to play and created a promotional trailer for the tournament.
The tournament was a huge success for everyone and raised $120 towards the trip. 8 teams signed up and immediately the competition became heated. Competitors and spectators were more interested in watching the tournament than the Patriots football game that was playing on the brewery’s large screen television. The winners of the tournament were a team called Bearded Souls and they won a year of membership into the mug club of Barreled Souls (very similar in rewards to Novare’s Chalice club). The other top 4 teams won free Barreled Souls shirts.
Barreled Souls plans on hosting other tournaments in the future. They were thinking of possibly being weekly or bi-weekly.
I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for supporting me in my campaign to attend The Beer Bloggers Conference. I want to thank everyone who donated, competed in the shuffleboard tournament, shared the link & video, or even simply said ‘good luck’. I wouldn’t be flying out to San Diego early tomorrow morning without all of your support.
At the conference I hope to take as much knowledge as I can back to Maine. I also plan to write informative and cumulative posts about what I’ve learned. The conference starts in LA at Golden Road Brewery and continues to Angel City Brewery (dinner), a tour of the Bruery, and an evening pub crawl to Smog City Brewing and Monkfish Brewing. This entire evening will allow me to experience the brewing culture in Los Angeles. I get to learn about the brewing processes, hand crafted beers, and culinary pairings of the city of Angels.
Friday starts the official conference with a trade show and a nice panel about beer bloggers working together with beer brands. Panels like this will allow me to take back crucial information from industry experts and brand managers.
On Saturday the day starts with a beer photography panel followed by a wordpress panel. This should directly impact me because I use photography (a lot!) and my blog is on wordpress. The day continues with a panel by Alan Kropf again on Beer Blog Videography, another topic that I would like to know much more on. That evening there is a keynote speech by craft beer legend Ken Grossman from Sierra Nevada followed by dinner at Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens. The night ends with a Beer Social where we discuss integrating all forms of social media with beer tasting back at the hotel.
I have to leave before the conference starts on Sunday. I will be missing the marketing in Beer Industry and Cooperative Blogging panels to travel the majority of the day back to Portland, Maine by combination of plane and bus.
I look forward to bringing home all sorts of juicy nuggets of information and knowledge that I can directly use for the bettering of my blog and beer writing in Maine.