Before the first panel was an introduction by Julia Hertz of the Brewer's Association. She spoke about the current state of the craft beer industry, offering up a ton of facts and statistics (almost too much to absorb within her given time slot). One statistic that I found interesting is that beer sales generate just about as much money (about $101 billion) as wine ($40 billion) and spirits ($65 billion) combined. I was not all that surprised to learn that 70% of craft beer drinkers are 25-44 years old. After commenting on how beer bloggers are influencing the industry, she asked the audience what else we would like to see as craft beer continues to move forward. Answers ranged from more educated retailers, better beer on airlines and at sporting events, better beer servers, correct glassware at bars and events, more small pours or 1/2 pints.
Mid-morning snack: Sierra Nevada Ovila Saison and a pretzel necklace
Next, John Foyston of The Beer Here, an Oregon beer news website, led an open conversation with Fred Eckhardt. Fred is 82 years old and wrote his first book on brewing in 1969, before homebrewing was even re-legalized. He is the author of The Essentials of Beer Style (1989). The conversation basically consisted of Fred telling various stories from throughout his beer drinking and brewing experiences. Fred is a soft-spoken and obviously incredibly warm hearted fellow. He immediately became everyone's hero. At one point, having realized he had finished his beer, he stopped in the middle of a story and said, as if thinking out loud, "Empty glass... I have an empty glass." Towards the end of the session he said, "My favorite beer is the one in my hand. My next favorite beer is the one that's free."
John Foyston (left) & Fred Eckhardt
During the next session, Stephen Valand & Erica Shea of Brooklyn Brew Shop talked about brewing 1 gallon batches of beer. To me, this is a great idea, and one that I have already been gearing up for thanks to another couple, William Bostwick & Jessi Rymill, authors of Beer Craft, a homebrewing book based around the 1 gallon batch.
After the last panel of the day, everyone loaded on to two buses and headed into the countryside to visit Goschie Farms and tour their hop processing facility. During the trip, we sampled an altbier from Widmer, Full Sail's Session Black, IPA, and LTD 03, Chatoe Rogue Single Malt Ale, and everything from Ninkasi's new bomber 4-pack, Radiant Ale, Maiden The Shade, Nuptiale, and Total Domination IPA.
Pete from Beervana Buzz
a mountain of Tettnanger hops
100 lb bales of compressed hops
Following the tour, we were provided a delicious farm to table dinner consisting of fresh yellow corn, red skin potato salad, bratwurst and sauerkraut on rye bread, and a blueberry, peach and pineapple fruit salad. Beer was also provided, of course!
Standing Stone Noble Stout and Double Mountain Vaporizer
For dessert, there were hop brownies topped with icing and sprinkled with hop flakes. It was without a doubt the best brownie I've ever had.
We returned to the hotel late in the evening for the Night of Many Bottles. This is a special tasting event where conference participants provide all the beer, picking their favorites and letting the other attendees try them. There were easily over 100 different beers, of which I tried about 12 before deciding I needed to catch up on sleep.
New Belgium La Folie 2011
North Coast Le Merle Saison & Brother Thelonious