Following is the tentative agenda for the 2015 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference. All sessions will be held at the Four Points Asheville hotel unless indicated. This agenda is subject to change and we will be including speaker names as they are confirmed.
Friday, July 17
11:00 AM Drop-off in Asheville from pre-conference excursion
11:30 PM Registration opens
12:50 PM Conference Start
1:00 PM Introduction by Julia Herz of the Brewers Association: Julia has kicked off every conference since the first one in 2010. As a spokesperson for the Brewers Association, which represents the craft brewing industry in the United States, and publisher of CraftBeer.com, Julia is full of stats and figures. She doesn’t need much time to both provide us with an update on what is happening with craft beer in America and provide a motivational message about the importance of beer writing. Come ready to take notes!
1:30 PM Past, Present, and Future of Asheville Beer: Asheville is one of the most renowned beer towns in the world but how did they get they way … and where are they going in the future? We have an outstanding panel including Oscar Wong, Found of Highland Brewing Company; Julie Atallah, owner of the Bruisin’ Ales retail store; Tony Kiss, full-time beer writer at the Asheville Citizen-Times; and Anne-Fitten Glenn, author of Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Asheville Brewing. The panel will be moderated by Jennifer McLucas of the Asheville Brewers Alliance.
2:30 PM Break
2:45 PM Depart for Oskar Blues Brewery: We’ll head south from Asheville to visit the new Oskar Blues Brewery for a tour and Taste the Taps event. Details coming soon.
6:00 PM Dinner, tour, and tasting at Sierra Nevada Brewing: We’ll continue to the expansive premises of Sierra Nevada’s new brewery in Mills River for a tour, tasting, and dinner. Details coming soon.
8:30 PM Beer Social Expo: New this year we are combining the afternoon trade show with the evening Beer Social to make one awesome event. The Beer Social Expo is a fun evening party where we’ll have over a dozen sponsors of the conference, both breweries pouring a variety of their favorite beers for you plus non-brewery sponsors with valuable information you can use to improve your blog. You’ll find plenty of fodder for your blog or social media, so bring your smart phone, iPad, or lap top and get social as you taste.
Saturday, July 18
9:30 AM Content presented by WordPress.com (details to come)
10:30 AM Building Craft Beer Brands: A Talk With Award-Winning Distributors: Each year the National Beer Wholesalers Association and Brewers Association jointly present the Craft Beer Distributor of the Year Award, the Craft Beer Distributor Achievement Award and the Craft Beer Distributor Recognition Award at the Great American Beer Festival. These awards honor independent beer distribution companies that do the most to market, promote and sell craft beer. Representatives from three award-winning distribution companies – Matt Abdoney of J. J. Taylor Distributing Florida, Inc. (Tampa, FL), Wesley Phillips of Windy City Distributing, LLC (Chicago, IL) and Robbie Maletis Jr. of Maletis Beverage (Portland, OR) – will share what it takes to build and grow successful craft beer brands in today’s competitive marketplace. From business planning to marketing trends, industry relationships, success stories and lessons learned, you won’t want to miss hearing from these experts in craft beer.
11:30 AM Lunch on your own
1:00 PM Advanced Social Media for the Beer Industry: Many people and businesses now use social media to share stories, market and communicate. The reality of these social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google + is they evolve and change continuously. New sites and apps are arising every year. Are you sure you will be effective achieving your goals on social media? Sarah Benoit, a professional social media trainer from JB Media Group, LLC in Asheville, will give you the inside scoop on where and how you should be spending your time on social media. She will also provide some tips and strategies on how to make your social media efforts more efficient and successful.
2:00 PM Moving Beyond the Beer Review: Reviewing beers is sort of the staple of beer writing. But feedback we get from consumers is they are mostly interested in the stories behind the beers. Hear from four winners of Best Blog at the North American Guild of Beer Writers awards about how to move beyond just reviewing beers to provide interesting content your readers will enjoy, using techniques including -storytelling, data analysis, photography and good old fashioned journalism. Our panel consists of Alan McCormick of Growler Fills, Bryan Roth of This Is Why I’m Drunk, Oliver Gray of Literature & Libations, and Jessica Miller of Hey, Brewtiful.
3:00 PM Break
3:15 PM Quality and Consistency – The 3 PM Tasting: Every day, around the country, Anheuser-Busch’s brewmasters gather at 3 p.m. to evaluate the day’s brew. This process is unique to Anheuser-Busch, and the brewmasters involved take great care to assess every part of the beer they’re making to ensure quality and consistency. Curious about the number of elements tasted each day as part of this process, or how to detect off flavors? In this sponsored session, participants will be taken behind the scenes, during a rare opportunity, to experience the 3 p.m. tasting with an Anheuser-Busch brewmaster who will walk them through the rigorous testing and sampling of all aspects of the brewing process. There will also be time for Q&A at the end, so bring questions.
4:15 PM Break
4:30 Keynote Address: Kim Jordan, Cofounder and CEO of New Belgium Brewing
5:15 PM Live Beer Blogging featuring beers from the North Carolina Brewers Guild: Live Beer Blogging is the premier event of the Beer Bloggers Conference. It is a fast-paced, fun event that is sort of like speed dating with brewers. You will sit at a table with other conference participants as a brewery representative has five minutes to pour you a select beer, describe it, answer questions, and allow you to blog or Tweet about it live. Brewers will then rotate to a new table and you will ultimately meet 10 breweries and try 10 beers in 50 minutes. Tweeting about each beer is easy. If you are good, you’ll take notes and publish a blog post about Live Beer Blogging at the conclusion. If you are really good, you’ll publish 10 separate posts, all live and on the spot. (See the Great Beer Now blog for an excellent summary of the 2014 event.)
6:45 PM Dinner: details coming soon
8:30 PM Evening Party, Asheville Brewdown at The Millroom, hosted by the Asheville Brewers Alliance and Explore Asheville. Asheville’s vibrant, quirky, and absolutely in-demand status as a must-visit town in the U.S is highlighted in this interactive, music-filled evening at the newest venue in downtown, the Millroom at Asheville Brewing Company. Local purveyors of Asheville’s “foodtopia” scene will be pairing their products with Asheville beers for a sensory-oriented evening of entertainment and learning.
10:30 PM Night of Many Bottles is the bottle share event of the conference. Please bring one six-pack of beer – your local favorite, something hard to get you have been cellaring, or anything else you choose. Please write on a 8.5 x 11 piece of paper your name, your blog/company, and the beer specs. We’ll put them all out on ice and have a great time sharing beers and stories.
Sunday, July 19
9:30 AM Blog to X: Beer blogging is a fantastic pursuit that provides a platform for you to speak about your passion, introduces you to interesting people, and allows you to taste a lot of great beers. But can you turn your blogging into a career? Hear from a panel of bloggers working to do just that: Renee deLuca has evolved from blogger into brewer, Eric Steen turned his blogging into a job with Hopworks Brewery in Oregon, and Mark deNote grew from blogging into becoming a published book author.
10:20 AM Improving Your Beer Writing: No matter what else you do well, if you want to be accepted as a beer writer you had better have high quality writing. Hear from professional beer writers and editors on how you can improve your writing. This session will go beyond writing 101 to talk about techniques for reviewing beers and describing brewing culture.
11:10 AM Break
11:25 AM Professionalize Your Beer Blogging: Craft beer is booming and beer blogging should be booming along with it. But that isn’t always happening. Beer blogs stop being active or go extinct all the time and beer bloggers often don’t take advantage of the opportunities available to them. Learn 10 basic tips to professionalize your blog and how you present yourself as a blogger, making sure you are one of the beer bloggers riding the wave of the craft beer phenomenon.
12:15 PM Wrapup
12:30 PM Conference Close