Indianapolis, Indiana was the site of the 3rd Annual Beer Bloggers Conference organized by Zephyr Adventures. Girls’ Pint Out was part of the local Indianapolis bloggers that acted as liaisons, answered questions, and drove people to the liquor store to buy beer to take home. The mix of sponsor content, blogger content and events kept us extremely busy during the conference.
Kudos to Indianapolis. The comments about the city were all positive. “The mix of old and new architecture is cool.” “Indianapolis is CLEAN.” “I had no idea Indianapolis and Indiana had so much great beer!” We couldn’t be prouder. Everyone locally who made this a success for the city: Visit Indy, Brewers Guild of Indiana, World Class Beverages and Monarch Beverages, Marriott Downtown, the list goes on. The local breweries showed what Hoosier hospitality was all about. They let bloggers visit while they were closed, hosted tours and tastings, and provided a true look at how Indiana is becoming a beer tourism destination.
This year’s conference did not focus on the technical aspects of blogging. WordPress plug-ins, monetizing your blog, and ad networks? Not this conference. There were keynote speeches by Julia Herz, Garrett Oliver and Randy Mosher. Industry panels featuring distributors, breweries and retailers. Blogger panels about how some have turned a hobby into a career. The 2012 conference content was the strongest yet.
Julia Herz, The Brewers Association Craft Beer Director gave her annual state of craft beer address. She addressed the dated nomenclature “food and wine” and a cultural shift towards craft beer. Look for “food and wine” to shift towards “food and beverages.” The statistics and insight she share are always a treat. Did you know you most Americans live about 2 miles or less from an establishment making beer? Julia’s passion and straight up knowledge is unparalleled.
During Garrett Oliver‘s keynote speech, he drove home the point that what bloggers do isn’t a game. Every review, every article written, every opinion – should be thought out. “This isn’t a game.” He encouraged us to be objective, be better, and while it’s okay to not like a beer, be conscious as a blogger to your responsibility. Respect the force.
Randy Mosher‘s keynote took us back to the beginning of civilization. His history of beer was entertaining and extremely in depth. Persian drinking boots, Rembrandt drinking beer with his wife, neuroscience, and again responsibility. It’s okay to not know the answer, but do your best to find the truth. Learn your audience, learn everything you can.
A tweet made it into our stream questioning “are beer bloggers so self-important now need a conference?” Well, no and yes. Beer bloggers are on the front lines of what is shaping up to be a Golden Age for beer. We’re able to spend time with the product and the people who make it. Bloggers are getting information to people interested in beer but may not be familiar with the industry past knowing they are tired of mountains that turn blue when cold. We can breathe life into a six pack sitting on a shelf. That’s power. The same power food bloggers have when they wax poetic over quinoa to make readers want to try it.
Traditional journalism can’t keep up with the beer industry. Journalists are already spread thin due to staffing cuts or straight up outsourcing. Bloggers are the experts (that’s scary!). So are we self-important? No. We have a place and an opportunity to do great things. It’s our time to shine. Do we need a conference? Yes. It gives bloggers a chance to meet face to face, network and have some fun. The sessions are crafted to make you think, give you inspiration, and be entertained. Bloggers have an opportunity to visit cities they might normally pass on. (Seriously, does anyone besides Jim Nantz say “ooh, honey! Let’s vacation in Indianapolis!”?) So those of you who might be reading this and are skeptical of the Beer Bloggers Confernece? You missed out. Those who attended are now inspired with fresh ideas, new contacts and a stronger sense of community.
Community. That word came up a lot this weekend. Beer bloggers as a group – all of us – those who attended, those who couldn’t or didn’t want to – we’re a community. It’s up to us to work together and help the beer community get education and information out there. Sure it can be fun to call someone out, but is that really where we want to go? This community is only as strong as we make it. Collaborate with other blogs – across the country – expand your circle. Being a local beer blog is the standard but push farther and give your readers a taste of what we experienced this weekend.
Girls’ Pint Out started a blog to get our events out there. The evolution over the past two and a half years and the growth of women beer drinkers is not something we predicted would happen so quickly. Chapters are forming all over the country and if you are interested in starting a chapter, contact us! We’ll help you get it off the ground. Our chapter presidents will tell you, the beer community needs groups of consumers and the success has been overwhelming. Email us: email@example.com if you are serious about getting a chapter started.
Thank you again to everyone who made this a great weekend. It couldn’t have gone better.