The 4th annual European Beer Bloggers Conference concluded last weekend in Dublin. This was the first year that the conference left the UK, and delegates from around Europe jumped at the chance to convene in Ireland to learn about the Irish Craft Beer scene, gain new insights into blogging and social media, and network.
Thursday – Pub Crawl
Festivities kicked off Thursday night with a pub crawl organized and led by Reuben Gray of The Tale of the Ale.
The #TrailofAle pub crawl, as it was dubbed, visited several local pubs that featured a selection of craft beer. Over 30 attendees of the conference participated, and each location we visited was already bustling and/or overflowing with people so it was a boisterous, loud, and very fun event!
If you’re from the US, you may naturally associate Ireland with beer and assume that craft beer abounds. The reality is quite opposite of that, so these bars are a few of only a handful in the area that has a good selection.
Craft Beer in Ireland is just starting to gain some traction in the market place, and the country is poised to enjoy its own craft beer revolution here in the years to come. It is a very exciting time to be in Ireland and involved in Craft Beer!
We want to extend a thank you to the establishments who welcomed our group – treating us with fine beer and some tasty treats!
With the help of Reuben Gray, who assisted us in many aspects to bringing #EBBC14 to Dublin, the conference took place at The Church. As the name suggest, The Church is indeed an old church in Dublin’s City Center area that has been converted into a gorgeous restaurant, bar, and event center. Our group took over the Cellar and Tower Bar area of the venue for the two days, and it was the perfect setting.
In addition to delicious food and a perfect atmosphere for a beer bloggers conference, the staff at The Church was amazing. They were accommodating, gracious, and flexible, and we are so grateful to have been able to have the EBBC14 hosted there.
Friday – Conference Day 1
Things kicked off on Friday mid-day with an expo featuring beers from our sponsors. This was a great chance for introductions, reunions, and to get a glimpse into the Irish Craft Beer scene.
There was a lot of beer poured!
After the expo we all gathered into the Cellar Bar and Declan Moore, an Irish archaeologist who focuses on ancient brewing techniques, got us started with a delightful and personal presentation on the history of beer vis-a-vie Ireland. We learned about recent discoveries and several hypotheses he and his colleagues have come to as it pertains to ancient brewing techniques in Ireland and brewing in Africa.
Friday’s content was all geared towards beer and Ireland, and we moved right into the next session presented comparing and contrasting bottled beer to canned beer in Ireland and keg beer to cask beer. James Winans of the Vanguard Beer Collective spoke about the bottle/can aspect and Brian Short of the Brown Paper Bag Project spoke about cask and keg.
Being from the US where canning is more and more common, practical, and cost effective, it was a revelation to learn that things are more complex in Ireland. While it seems that there is certainly a desire from the industry to move towards canning, they are logistically prohibited and cost prohibited from doing so because the industry is just still so small.
Concluding our sessions on Friday was a panel of Irish Craft Brewers. Three generations of brewers offered their insights, philosophies, and dreams for the industry. Led by Reuben Gray, the panel consisted of Paul O’Connor from Trouble Brewing, Sarah Roarty from N17, and Cathal O’Donoghue from Rascals Brewing.
Guinness & Smithwicks
After a brief break, we departed by foot and enjoyed a guided tour as we made our way to St. James Gate — the gates to Guinness!! The comparison to Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory was overheard several times as we enjoyed a private and priveledged look behind the curtain at this 60 acre historic brewing facility. Our tour guide of the grounds? No other than Master Brewer, Fergal Murray! He introduced us to his team of lead brewers and granted us the first look (by outsiders) of their fourth brewhouse, which is still under construction!
We were asked not to photograph the new facility, so I leave you with these three words: huge, shiny, and modern. After the sneak peak tour, we made our way to the Guinness Storehouse where we were treated like rock stars by hosts Guinness and Smithwicks. An assortment of stations satiated our hungry group as we noshed on oysters, burgers, fish & chips, and ribs. All this paired with a variety of ales from Smithwicks (pronounced Smithicks) and Guinness.
The space was beautiful, our hosts fun, and our time here was most enjoyable. We all also had the opportunity to learn how to pour a perfect pint of Guinness!
Pilsner Urquell After Party
Feeling full and replete, we powered on. After we departed Guinness, we jumped on buses and were whisked away by Pilsner Urquell for an evening of unfiltered bliss. Master Brewer Vaclav Berka of Pilsner Urquell is a favorite of the EBBC and has been to all four of our conferences. He and his team hosted us for a night of bar hopping and fun in downtown Dublin, and we all got our first conference sips of unfiltered Pilsner Urquell from cask.
Saturday – Conference Day 2
Given the late hour that most stayed out to, we were pleasantly surprised to see almost all attendees seated and ready for day 2 on time at 10am on Saturday! To reward the group for their dedication and punctuality, we kicked off the day’s session with an insider’s look into the Irish Craft Beer Industry by Dean McGuinness, Managing Director of Premier International Beers and got to taste an assortment of delicious Irish Craft Beer.
Next up, yours truly presented on Social Media. The intent of this session was not to give an overview or be too rudimentary, so I tried to stick to advanced tactics. If you need to reference the presentation, fill out the worksheet I provided, or get links to tools mentioned, click here.
Pilsner Urquell BBC
After a few sessions, it was time to meet up again with Vaclav Berka and his team from Pilsner Urquell where they hosted us for a fantastic BBQ in the spacious patio area of The Church. Always the host, Vaclav made sure that there was enough food and beer to last us days if need be. It was a beautiful afternoon in Dublin, and it was the perfect break from being inside the conference.
After lunch, we all sat down to hear a presentation on Supercharging your Blog using WordPress. WordPress.com is a sponsor of the European Beer Bloggers Conference and they sent Derek Springer (a homebrewer and beer blogger himself) all the way from San Diego to give us this enlightening and informative talk on how to use WordPress most effectively.
I use WordPress A LOT and I learned so much from Derek’s talk. His presentation can be found here.
Last, but not least, was a session on using Video for your beer blog. This session was co-presented by Mhairi MacLeod of Lux and EBBC14 attendee Tomasz Kopyra of The Beer Guide PL.
Thomasz has attended the last 3 EBBCs and has been vlogging for 2 of them. He has already surpassed 4 million views on YouTube and is enjoying a tremendour amount of success. Thomasz shared some unique insights into what has worked for him with regard to video and beer blogging and surely inspired a few in the room to give video a go.
Mhairi has a great background in Craft Beer and now owns and runs a digital marketing company specializing in food and drink brands in the UK. She offered some really great tips for bloggers as it relates to video blogging and working with brands.
Beer Ireland Reception
After all that great content, it was then time to reward ourselves with more Irish Craft Beer! Beer Ireland put on a lovely reception for us where several micro producers came and shared samples of their beers with us.
Franciscan Well Dinner
After the Beer Ireland reception, it was then time to head into dinner hosted by Franciscan Well Brewery. Much like all of the meals and food we enjoyed this weekend, this dinner was over the top. Four courses were perfectly paired with various Franciscan Well offerings and by the time the sparkling (as in on-fire) cream puff towers arrived for course three, our minds were all collectively blown.
As we sat digesting, we enjoyed a Keynote speech by Shane Long where it was a nice mix of personal experience and vision for Irish Craft Beer.
Carlow Brewing Co
The final event of EBBC14 was hosted by Carlow Brewing Company – maker of O’Hara’s Irish Craft Beer. The O’Hara’s flowed freely, music played, and many good conversations were had.
This tweet sums up everything pretty nicely…
Thank you to all who contributed to making EBBC14 a big success! We will be working hard over the next few months to secure the location and dates for next year’s conference, so stay tuned!
Please share the URLs to your conference blog posts in the comments below – we want to read every single one of them!
Matthieu Bacheley shared some insightful Twitter Stats from the weekend in this Tweet: