I now know why!
This was an absolutely amazing experience. We were literally rubbing elbows with and talking to brewing industry greats like Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head, Jim Koch of Sam Adams and Charlie Papazian, world renowned homebrewer and president of the Brewers Association. We had a random lunch conversation with Chris White, founder of White Labs yeast and author of Yeast: The Practical Guide to Yeast Fermentation. There were really too many of those experiences to name, but those give you just an idea of whose company we were in this past week. It was truly surreal for a few reasons. 1. We were actually in their company and at their events. 2. they actually talked with us! 3. They seemed actually enjoy talking to us!
Then came the primary reason we were there, the conference itself and the expo. There were seminars on all sorts of things, but it was kicked off by Sam Calagione talking about nano breweries. It was really encouraging and exciting to be in the room with all of those people who were either in various stages of planning or had been open for awhile. One brewery in particular had a ton of great information, Hess Brewing Company. The brewery opened a couple of years ago on a 1.6 barrel system (51 gallons at a time), which is half the size of our operation! He started a blog about their process as he couldn't really find a ton of information out there on the interwebs about starting small breweries. This blog has helped many of the small breweries out there get started...we kind of called them the grandfather of the nano brewery!
Next came seminars on taprooms, yeast propogation, brewing with fruit, tips and tricks, and on and on. So much information to absorb, but so much wonderful information. Then came the beer. Oh my word was there beer. Everywhere you went there was wonderful, wonderful beer. Throughout the day there were hospitality tents everywhere with food and drink. Mixed in with the booths trying to sell us everything from full brew houses to bottle openers were booths with random wonderful beer. Much of it we don't have being distributed in Iowa, but I sure wish it was.
After the last seminar of the day there were shuttles taking us to various places each night. One night we went to Mission Brewery in downtown San Diego. Absolutely gorgeous building. Used to be an old bakery, but they had converted it to a brewery and tasting room. Another night we went to Karl Strauss Brewery (no idea where it was, my sense of direction was so screwed up all week!) where there was more food and 16 separate breweries with beer....also a mechanical bull! Once we returned, we were presented with even more opportunities to sample incredible beer. In one of the courtyards of the hotel, they had constructed two cold boxes with 50+ taps in each one. You could either filter through the two page list of available brews or just play brewery roulette and pick a number!
I could go on and on and on about this week and everything we learned and did and saw...but I can't put it all into one post. I do plan on adding another post shortly that will include some of the images we captured throughout the week, but I want to leave you with an image of Ryan's protector. This print was hung over the foot of his bed and watched over him each night. Frankly, it's rather creepy! I think the eyes do follow you around the room...however, he made it through!
Now, if we can just get an airplane to pick us up from the airport and actually get us home, that would be great!