21 Apr 2009 @ 8:59 PM 

Oh Day 1. You could have been so much more.

What follows is a description of the epic adventure that took me from RDU airport to BOS in 17 hours. Indeed. If I had driven, it would have been faster.

Monday: 4:15 PM. I arrive at the airport. Lovely Wife drops me off, dog in back seat wags her tail. I’m off to the CBC! Woo!

Monday: 4:17 PM. I realize that I do not have my cell phone in my pocket. This is Bad News (TM), since it has all of my contact information for all kinds of people and places in it, plus without it I cannot call Lovely Wife. I frantically borrow people’s cell phones attempting to call Lovely Wife to get her to turn around and bring me my cell phone I get voicemail because Lovely Wife’s phone is on the fritz.

Monday: 4:50 PM. I give up waiting outside the terminal, borrow somebody’s cell phone and leave another message for Lovely Wife asking her to FedEx my cellphone to the conference hotel. I head through security to my gate. My plane is pre-boarding.

Monday: 5:00 PM. I am paged by the airport to “please report to a courtesy phone.” Apparently, Lovely Wife is calling me. I cannot see a courtesy phone. I ask a TSA person: “Where can I find a courtesy phone?” “What airline?” they ask. “No airline. A courtesy phone.” I am paged again. “Did you hear that? That’s me. Where can I get that?” “What airline?” they ask. Someone behind a ticket counter says, “The information desk is near baggage claim.” I go *back* outside of security, talk to Lovely Wife. Yes. Thank you, sweetie. You’re awesome. My plane is taking off. I need to run.

Monday: 5:10 PM. The security line has grown ENORMOUS. I am able to get ushered to the front of the line. The people here are taking forever. I am on my way through security for a 3rd time, now.

Monday: 5:15 PM. I arrive at my gate. It doesn’t look like anything has changed. I wonder: Have they boarded the flight? I stand around and wait for a final boarding call to be sure. The woman behind the counter closes the door. I approach the desk: “Is that the flight to Boston?” “It just closed.” “But you didn’t announce anything.” “Well, they’re closed.” “But I need to be on that flight.” “I’m sorry, I need to worry about the people who are boarding to Washington now.” She leaves.

Monday: 5:17 PM. I am infuriated.

Monday: 5:50 PM. I am back through security at ticketing trying to get on to another flight for Boston. Lovely Wife has come to the airport and brought me my cell phone (See? She IS awesome.) I am booked to fly stand-by on the 7:55 PM flight.

Monday: 6:15 PM. Gordon Biersch. Beer, at least.

Monday: 6:30 PM. The fire alarm goes off at RDU. Nobody so much as moves a muscle. It will continue to go off for the next 3 hours.

Monday: 7:50 PM. The plane has boarded. I am first on the Stand-By list. The SAME WOMAN is at the desk for this flight. She pages the person behind me on the stand-by list 3 times, then gets up and closes the door. I approach the desk: “Did you just close that flight?” “Yes.” “But there was space on the flight, wasn’t there? You were paging the person after me on the list.” She looks at my blankly. “I need to go close the flight” she says, and heads through the gate.

Monday: 8:00 PM. Woman comes back to the desk. “You really need to help me get to Boston” I say. “I”m sorry, sir. I can’t help you with that, right now. I need to get two people off of this flight.” She prints something and runs off.

Monday: 8:10 PM. Two people de-plane and stand around talking on their cell phones: “Well.. you know.. we were just a little tired, and this flight was going to get in so late, we just decided to re-book on a flight tomorrow.”

Monday: 8:15 PM. Woman returns to desk. “I can put you on a flight at 6:00 AM tomorrow.” “You just took two people off of that plane.” “Yes.” “That means there was a seat for me. Two of them.” “Sir, they were business class.” “They were EMPTY.” “You would have had to pay for an upgrade.” “You COULD HAVE ASKED ME!” “Is 6:00 AM okay?” “Fine.”

Monday: 9:00 PM. Lovely Wife picks me up and I get to spend another night in my own bed, anyway.

Tuesday: 4:00 AM. Inexplicably, I am awake. Nobody should really ever be awake at 4:00 AM.

Tuesday: 5:00 AM. I am at my gate at the airport. Drinking a cup of coffee eating a really dry scone.

Tuesday: 6:00 AM. My flight actually takes off, much to my surprise.

Tuesday: 7:50 AM. My flight attempts to land in Boston but cannot due to fog.

Tuesday: 8:00 AM. Conference registration opens.

Tuesday: 8:15 AM. My flight attempts to land in Boston AGAIN, but cannot due to dog.

Tuesday: 9:00 AM. The beer tour to Maine that I am supposed to be on leaves the Seaport Hotel.

Tuesday: 9:05 AM. My flight lands in Syracuse, NY.

Tuesday: 10:00 AM. My flight takes off, again, from Syracuse.

Tuesday: 11:00 AM. My flight (finally) lands in Boston.

Had I just gotten behind the wheel of my car at 4:00 PM when I got to the airport and driven north I would have arrived in Boston 6 hours earlier.

Anyway, it gave me a slower day. I got registered, went up to the Cambridge Brewing Company and had a few beers with lunch. They have an astounding 19 on tap, including some really good looking barrel-aged stuff. The one that stood out to me: Reckoning – 100% Brett fermentation. Fruity, dry, and just phenomenal. I cannot recommend it enough.

At 5:00 there was a little “first-timer’s” session – not much there – little details about what was around Boston (a lot of beer) and what to expect from the conference (a lot of beer), where rooms were and stuff. I got to meet a couple from Knoxville, Iowa who are working on White Breast Brewing – and I hope to connect with them again later.

The Welcome Reception was at the Harpoon Brewery. Great food, great beer all around. It was fantastic to be able to wander around their brewhouse and warehouse and basically see the entire operation at a standstill. But this where I ran into an interesting conundrum: I am at this conference alone. I know nobody. (I know a lot of people by sight, but they don’t know me – weird.) How does one network in a room in which people are shaking hands and saying things like, “Heyyyy! Long time no see! Whatchya been up to?!”

Hrm. How to network when you know nobody. Weird. Sessions will help. They start tomorrow after Greg Koch’s keynote. More then.

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Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 21 Apr 2009 @ 08 59 PM

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 20 Apr 2009 @ 8:24 AM 

Short and sweet today, since the rest of the week is going to be full up:

This week, starting tomorrow, is the 2009 Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo in my old hometown, Boston, MA. I cannot describe how much I am looking forward to this. It’ll be my first CBC.
cbc09
I’ll be attending wearing my other hat, working on my own brewery startup.

So! The plan on this end is to give a blow-by-blow account of the conference from my perspective – I’ll be attempting to post at least once a day here, but that will depend a lot of my level of fatigue and/or sobriety. A more up-to-the-minute account will be available via my Twitter feed, and if you want to keep track of every internet connected person at the conference, be sure to to search Twitter for #cbc09.

And if you’re there and happen to run into me, say hi.. and have a beer with me, would ya?

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Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 20 Apr 2009 @ 08 24 AM

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 17 Apr 2009 @ 10:32 AM 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see the movie last night, so I’m unable to comment directly on the movie, but all of the reviews from the craft beer segment seem to be pointed in the same direction. I’ll see if I can sum up a little here, but mostly I’ll point you to people who actually saw it.

The main thrust of most of these come down to pacing and narration problems and poor focus on core message, with some really bright moments shining through occasionally. Almost everybody noted that the panel discussion afterward was the best part of the movie, Ben Stein notwithstanding. This doesn’t make me drool in anticipation of the DVD, especially as the discussion will apparently not be included in the DVD release.

Myself, I hope Ms. Baron is right: I hope this does start a conversation, though we probably have different ideas about what that conversation should be about. I suspect that after all of these reviews are done, we probably won’t hear much about it again after the next week or two have gone by. Shame, really.

I’d also love to hear what people thought about this film that are *not* part of the beer industry or a beer geek. Was there a man-on-the-street attending this anywhere?

On to the reviews; I will add to this list as I find more:

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 16 Apr 2009 @ 11:18 AM 

Again – just another quickie this week. If you’re not a member of the American Homebrewers Association, you missed this marvelous e-mail that went out today.

I Make My Own BABIES!

I Make My Own BABIES!

Part of me would love to make fun of this in some way, but I’m too happy to see homebrewing marketed to women. Hooray!

For the record, it was my mother that bought me my first homebrew kit and got me interested in making my own beer all those years ago. Go moms. Keep makin’ that beer.

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Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 16 Apr 2009 @ 11 18 AM

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 15 Apr 2009 @ 9:04 AM 

Earlier this week, the Brewers Association released its list of Top 50 Breweries by Sales Volume for both Craft Breweries and otherwise. You’ll probably be a little surprised by some of the breweries that show up in the NON-Craft Brewer list. The BA definition of a Craft Brewer: “An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional.”

Well.. okay.. that’s a discussion for another time.

Today! We get a pretty chart.

Top 50 Craft Breweries by Sales Volume

I was interested to see what had changed over the past year, and the answer is: Not a lot. This is good news to me. It suggests a fairly stable market, especially in the face of a global economic crisis. There’s a belief, or at least repeated line in the media, that beer is recession proof and while I’m not necessarily convinced that that’s true, this would suggest that if there was a drop in barrels sold over the past year, at least consumers stopped buying beer everywhere at the same time. Not having total number of barrels available makes that kind of hard to tell right off the bat.

There are two lines highlighted up there that I think merit a little bit of attention.

The first is Kona Brewing Company, which was the single largest climber in the rankings. Again, since actual number of barrels is omitted from this information we don’t know just how much of an increase that is or if places 10 – 30 are within 1,000 barrels of each other or what. Given that I recently started seeing their Pipeline Porter on a regular basis here on the East Coast, my guess would be that they’re benefiting from a really good distribution agreement.

The second highlight is the only new entrant on the list, the St. Louis Brewing Company or what most of us know as Schlafly Beer. So kudos there.

It’d been even more interesting to see the changes over the past few years, especially in terms of geographic distribution, but I can’t seem to find these figures back past 2007. If anybody’s got info saved up to play with, let me know.

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Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 15 Apr 2009 @ 09 04 AM

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