The Beer Industry in Tampa and Florida

After an introduction by Julia Herz of CraftBeer.com / Brewers Association, our lead off panel will be one on The Beer Industry in Tampa and Florida.

This lead panel is always an excellent way for attendees, especially for those from out of state, to get to know the local beer scene. The brewing industry in Florida is booming and getting to know the local scene is a major reason we move the conference each year.

We have three excellent and knowledgeable panelists for this session:

  • Joey Redner: Founder and CEO of Cigar City Brewing, which is considered the top brewery in Tampa and one of the best in the state.
  • Eric Criss: President of Beer Industry of Florida, the trade association for Florida’s beer distributors (who are also supporting the conference).
  • Mark de Note: Writer at Florida Beer News as well as author of two books relevant to the panel: The Great Florida Craft Beer Guide and Tampa Bay Beer: A Heady History.

The panel will be moderated by Gerard Walen of Beer in Florida who is also a long-time BBC attendee and on the conference Advisory Board. Gerard also wrote the book Florida Breweries.

Julia Herz from Brewers Association to Again Open BBC

Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Director and Publisher of CraftBeer.com at the Brewers Association,  will open the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference for the seventh consecutive time, having served in this role since the first conference in 2010.

Julia HerzJulia is a BJCP beer judge, award-winning homebrewer, Certified Cicerone®, co-author of the CraftBeer.com Beer & Food Course, and co-author of Beer Pairing (Voyageur Press). Her title at the Brewers Association does not do full justice to Julia’s involvement. She she serves as an advocate for and educator about U.S. craft brewers and as a spokesperson for the association, traveling frequently to both beer and non-beer events to represent the industry.

Julia’s current project is working to get craft beer on the menu of restaurants across the country. Check out the full BA article for some interesting research and background.

From our perspective, however, Julia’s presence boils down to two things:

  1. Julia does an incredible job presenting at the conference each year. She combines interesting statistics with a motivational message for beer writers. Her delivery is excellent. Her message is updated each year and thus never gets old.
  2. Julia not only shows up to present but actually stays for most of the conference. Not only is she often in the front row, eagerly paying attention to speakers and contributing her thoughts to discussion, but she attends all the events and mingles with all the participants.

Julia has truly been a stalwart supporter of the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference and we are excited to have her open the conference in Tampa!

We are 59 days away from the kick of of BBC16.  Don’t forget to register soon and sign up for the pre or post conference excursions (or both!)

An Evolution of Craft Beer in Amsterdam and The Netherlands

We asked Hayo Fink, blogger at Bestetotnutoe in The Netherlands, to send us a review of beer in his country. Hayo is on the EBBC Advisory Board member and has attended all five European Beer Blogger & Writers Conferences. He gives us an unadulterated account.

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BesttotnutoeWe are slow….

Slow, that would be a fairly decent description of the Dutch beer scene. Where other European countries had jumped on the craft beer wagon early, we in the Netherlands were more stand offish. But who can blame us? For years the Dutch beer drinker had everything he (or she) could ever want.

And in this corner

Major lager brewers dominated the beer landscape in the Netherlands, and even the world. Heineken and Grolsch both produced (and still do) decent pilsners. Why look any further if these two giants are omnipresent?

And on the other side of the spectrum we had Belgium. A true beer Valhalla just around the corner. Duvel? Our supermarkets stocked it in abundance. Rochefort? A quick trip to the off license and problem solved. Feel like an Orval? Pop around to the pub and drink as many as you want.

Baby steps

So yes, it took us awhile to take the first careful steps in the craft beer revolution. And to be brutally honest, the first steps were shaky at best. Some excellent beers were brewed by Dutch craft beer pioneers but, unfortunately, quality changed from batch to batch. Drinking the early Dutch craft beers was kind of like playing Russian roulette. You never knew…

Unleashed
But in recent years the Dutch craft brewers have stepped up to the plate. Quality is consistent, the output is increasing almost on a weekly base. And new and exciting breweries are starting up all around the Dutch country side. Now that we have really started we are not to be stopped.

On one side we have brewers who are experimenting with new techniques, different styles and some strange and weird ingredients.

Other brewers are looking to classic styles and recipes, brewing great dubbels, tripels and IPAs.

One of the perks of living in a small country? Everything, and we mean everything is very close. So for us it doesn’t really matter who brews where, it is never far away. Craft beer is growing and growing, and the end is not in sight.

It’s time

The European Beer bloggers conference 2016 not in Amsterdam? Unthinkable! Yet, it is the best place it could be held.

We have everything. Classic pilsner, age old tradition and a whole lot of exciting craft breweries all to be found in a country the size of a large shoebox.

We are very excited to have the conference in the Netherlands. It gives us a real chance to show you first-hand how far we have come, and to show you that we really are just at the beginning.

Register for EBBC today!

Why You Should Attend the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference

There are three main reasons why our participants attend the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference:

  1. The Content: The Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference provides outstanding content that is applicable to bloggers, beer writers, and beer industry marketers. Content this year ranges from how to make money blogging to how to use social media more effectively to a presentation on beer industry statistics. And much more.
  2. The Beer: Yes, it is a conference but it is a beer conference. As our alumni know, there is plenty of great beer. Not only do we visit quite a few Tampa and Florida breweries on our excursions but we have a session on sour beers from Belgium and the always-popular Live Beer Blogging.
  3. The People: Ultimately, this is probably the number one reason most of our alumni return. As a beer blogger or writer, a whole year can go by without a lot of contact with your peers. What’s more, the industry folk who attend provide great connections to your favorite breweries. Here are just a few of the 85 people signed up so far:
  • Janelle Miley – marketing manager at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
  • Jeff “Huck” Bowles – blogger at Huck’s Beer Buzz who has attended every single conference since the first one in 2010
  • Gina Schauland – social media coordinator at Deschutes Brewery
  • Gerard Walen – blogger at Road Trips for Beer who lives in Tampa and is on the BBC Advisory Board
  • Troika Brodsky – executive director of the St. Louis Brewers Guild
  • Clare Goggin Sivits – ex-blogger who now works at Rogue Ales & Spirits
  • Lynn McIlwee – blogger at Hops Canary who is coming all the way from British Columbia
  • 78 other people from 25 states and provinces!

What are you waiting for?  Register now!

EBBC16 Call for Content is Now Open

We are pleased to start the process of determining content and speakers for the 2016 European Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference by opening a Call for Content. If you are interested to present at the conference, please fill out the form by April 15.

Content sessions can be related to beer, the beer industry, writing, social media, or blogging. All speakers will be provided a free registration to the conference but must pay their own travel and other costs.

After April 15 we will hold a private vote by EBBC alumni to determine which sessions will actually make it onto the conference agenda. This process ensures the conference content represents exactly what you, our attendees, want to experience.

We Invite Pro Basketball Player Chris Bosh to Attend the Beer Bloggers Conference!

I admit, I am impressed.

Professional basketball player Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat has a very classy blog with some interesting, well-written, thoughtful articles about various aspects of his life.

CB-BeersBBQHe even provides a nice motivation for why he started blogging. In fact, I play right into the issue he is trying to correct with this post’s title, labeling him as a basketball player first and foremost. But Chris explains he is more than that and wants to blog about his family, cooking, music, travel, fashion, and technology.

But it was this blog post on Best Beers for a Barbecue that got my attention. Chris clearly knows (and loves) various beer varieties. He also writes up his opinions with a casual yet informed voice. Very good.

So here it is: Chris, please consider joining us at the 2016 Beer Bloggers Conference which takes place in your current home state of Florida, July 8-10 in Tampa. You could come be a normal beer-loving blogger for a weekend and not a professional athlete. You’ll learn quite a bit about blogging, taste some amazing beers, and meet some other normal dudes and gals interested in writing about beer. (And if you prefer cooking, consider our July 28-31 International Food Blogger Conference in Sacramento.)

If I have just one gripe with Mr. Bosh’s blog, it is that he “welcomes our comments and thoughts” but comments are not enabled on his blog. However, comments on blogs have declined in popularity over the years anyway and he is already engaged on Twitter with 2.5 million followers!

Stan Hieronymus of Appellation Beer to Keynote BBC16

Stan Hieronymus, long-time beer writer and blogger at Appellation Beer, will deliver the keynote address at the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference, scheduled for July 8-10 in Tampa, Florida.

Stan HieronymusStan started his writing career with the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette but ultimately left behind a steady paycheck to write on his own account. He writes for a number of beer-related publications as well as about beer in non-beer periodicals. He is the author or co-author of seven books and his next book, Brewing Local, will be out in September.

Stan was vetted by the conference Advisory Board and was selected as their top choice for 2016. As advisory board member, founder and editor of BeerinFlorida.com, and author of “Florida Breweries” Gerard Walen says “Stan is one of those  beer writers who essentially started blogging before anyone even knew what a blog was, and is an inspiration to those of us who came later.”

See below for a Q&A with Stan and please remember to register for the BBC today if you have not done so yet!

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You have a long history of writing, including at newspapers and for the last 24 years as an independent writer. You seem to have been well ahead of the curve by leaving newspapers for your own independent status. Any regrets about not having an actual title and employer?

Stan: It is not like Daria, my wife, and I sensed what was going to happen to newspapers. We simply had more that we wanted to do, and it was worth paying our own health insurance to do it. One of the things I miss about working for a newspaper, particularly on the copy desk, is no longer part of the business. At 1 o’clock in the morning we were sending the news to the presses. Five hours or so later people were picking up their paper and reading that news. It’s a rush. Newspapers don’t work that way any more. I also miss the interaction with fellow workers. Even the jerks.

You have been writing about beer since 1993. What made you switch from writing about many to subjects to, now, primarily about beer?

When I was 23 the managing editor at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Illinois, lured me away from sports to become the city editor by convincing me “It’s different every day.” Beer is as diverse, and I don’t have to screw with sewer board meetings. There’s the history, the culture, the people who drink it, the people who make it, the business, the technical aspects, agriculture, and the beer itself.

In your career, you went from newspaper staff writer and editor to blogger at Appellation Beer. Many of our conference attendees are considering or dreaming about the reverse, going from blogger to paid writer at a magazine or newspaper. Do you have any advice for them?

Career paths are strange. I’ve had a lot of friends go from newspapers to PR or something on corporate communications. That was usually a matter of money. I’ve had others who went to work for politicians. That’s usually been an adrenalin thing. If this is a career it is an accidental one. We, Daria and I, have seen things we wanted to do and figured out a way to pay the bills along the way. She got a second masters and now works at the National Archives. I feel a lot less respectable still writing about beer.

The blog was sort of an afterthought. I simply knew there were things I wanted to say that weren’t going to be parts of stories I would/could sell. Maybe it helps sell books – I don’t have a way to measure that. But I learn things that make whatever I might be writing better. And it lands me in the middle of a community I would not be a part of were I simply scattering comments here and there. I can’t underestimate the importance of connections I might not know exist. You start to explain something to somebody in Poland and they tell you they’ve read it in your blog. That allows us to have a meaningful conversation.

I still haven’t answered your question, have I? Maybe that’s what I will be talking about in July. A short answer would be that if the blog is supposed to be an audition for a job figure out what the job you are auditioning for is.

In some industries there is a great divide between “bloggers” and “writers”. In others, such as in the beer industry, that differentiation seems rather unimportant. What do you think?

Maybe it is related to the fact that what is called craft beer and digital media reached the tipping point at the same time. 

You mention on your blog your goal of writing about beers from a place. In the wine industry, from a place (terroir) actually means to many people that the local altitude, climate, terrain, and soil condition affects how grapes and thus wine taste. What does beer from a place mean to you?

Beer is just as much an agricultural product as wine, but it has two key aroma/flavor agents (malt and hops) where wine has one (grapes). Winemakers make a choice about showcasing terroir and brewers may as well. But there is the human element as well: the place we drink the beer, the relationships we have with the people who make the beer, where the beer fits in our community. Not every beer is going to reflect the place where it is brewed – at least to me – but I have a special appreciation for those that do.

You have a pretty amazing schedule on your blog, hoping to post three times per week including a collection of links to other blogs. That has got to take a lot of time and effort. How do you do it while also writing enough for pay?

I don’t. My output the past six months has been pretty meager while I was hunkered down working on “Brew Local” and keeping up with stories I was committed to. I’d say to make it work you start with coming up with an answer for the third question. One thing I won’t forgo is reading what else is being written about beer. I always learn something. That makes the weekly links easy.

Do you have any idea yet what you might speak to our attendees about at the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference?

I’m pretty sure it will be related to beer and writing. Probably about balance, texture, and nuance in both. And maybe a bit about the Oxford comma.

Shareworthy (& Awesome) Visual Content for Beer Blogs and Breweries

2Are you an expert in producing visual content (photos, videos, and other images)? If not, we have a perfect session for you on the BBC16 Agenda.

Gina Schauland, Social Media and Event Promotions Coordinator at Deschutes Brewing, will share her favorite tips and tricks for staging, capturing, editing, and manipulating digital imagery to create shareworthy visual content. She will also delve into what she calls “snackable photography” – which makes use of audience segmenting and platform utilization to get the right images to the appropriate eyeballs.

Participants will leave with new tips and recommendations for apps and photo editing platforms. We may also explore visual content strategy if time allows.

cameraPlease bring your DSLR cameras or your point & shoot cameras and smart phones as we’ll leave some time for experimentation and basic photo education.

Gina Schauland has been with Deschutes Brewery for the last 8 years. During that time, she has tour guided, poured beer, helped execute events, and provided extraordinary experiences to fans through email, blogs, online newsletters, website updates, all of the brewery social channels, over the phone, through hand-written letters, swag mailings, cooking with beer recipe creations, at events in person, and through photography. In addition, she has been on the sensory panel for the last 5 years drinking beer every morning and providing feedback to the quality and brewing team so the beer tastes fantastic for craft beer fans every time (rough job, eh?).

Gina is also creator and President of the Central Oregon Beer Angels, a group of women beer lovers that started back in 2012. She is excited to be a part of her second Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference in 2016. Cheers!

BBC16 Pre-Con and Post-Con Excursions Announced

The pre-conference excursion is often one of the most-anticipated events of the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference. This year, we are doubling up by offering both a pre-conference and post-conference excursion, visiting the nearby cities of Jacksonville and St. Pete / Clearwater.

Just three hours up the state of Florida from our conference location in Jacksonville is one of the hottest beer scenes in the state. Represented by eight breweries on the Jax Ale Trail, we will have a chance to taste beers from all eight of them.  With pick ups in Tampa and Jacksonville,  this excursion starts July 7th and includes tours, tastings, and dinner and ends the next day at the Tampa Marriott in time for the Conference Opening.  For itinerary details, transportation information and the host hotel booking code, check out the Pre-Conference Excursion Page.

Back in the Tampa area, did you know that just across the Bay are the second (St. Petersburg) and eighth (Clearwater) best beaches in the United States, according to readers of Trip Advisor? What better way to end a trip to Florida, especially considering the St. Pete / Clearwater Craft Beer Trail runs for 30 miles along the Gulf Coast, “the Sunshine State’s answer to California wine country”.

Our post-conference excursion picks up at the Marriott hotel in Tampa at 12:45 PM on Sunday, visits three breweries that afternoon across the bay, and returns by 9:00 PM that evening. As an option, you can choose to stay the night at the TradeWinds beach resort in St. Pete.

Each excursion is only $25 for Citizen Bloggers or Writers and $50 for all others. You can register via the conference registration form or, if you are already registered for the conference, via the excursion registration form. Space is limited on each excursion.

Announcing BBC16 Content and Speakers

The content and speakers for the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference is now substantially complete. Please see the BBC Agenda for details.

We had a great response to our Call for Content in November with 27 proposed sessions. We then conducted a survey of BBC alumni in December to determine what topics you, our community members, want to hear and see at the conference.

Our content starts on Friday with a focus on the beer industry, including:

  • Our standard fantastic introduction by Julia Herz of the Brewers Association
  • Economics of the Beer Industry
  • A local panel presenting The Beer Industry in Tampa and Florida

Saturday morning we are doing something new, having two hours devoted to blogging and social media with two breakout sessions per hour. You’ll need to choose which session to attend.

  • Friends, Stories, and Sales – Actually Make Money Blogging
  • Increase Your Followers and Engagement on Social Media
  • Shareworthy (& Awesome) Visual Content Creation with Little to No Budget
  • Analytics – Know the True Story of Your Reach and Engagement

On Sunday morning, we have three great sessions that are designed to give beer writers more inspiration for their blogs and articles.

  • Over a Pint – Building Community in a Creative Way
  • Beer Tourism – The Next Big Thing
  • Tales From the Beer Bible

The Agenda page has more information about the sessions, including descriptions and who is presenting. In addition to the above, we’ll have meals, Live Beer Blogging, a session on sour beers, and more tasting of local, national, and international beers. More info on all of this to come!

Head over to our registration page to get on board for #BBC16 today!