Call for Content and Speakers at the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference

Speaker applications and content suggestions are now open for the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference and will remain open until November 22nd.  We are ready to hear from you to create an exceptional schedule and content sessions for next year. If you are an expert, have a story that needs to be told, and can impart some necessary wisdom upon our community, then we want to hear from you! (Please note: We are still working on the host location for EBBC so hang tight on content suggestions for Europe.)

CONTENT CATEGORIES

You will be asked to select from among the following content categories:

  • Blogging & Social Media: There are dozens of excellent potential topics involving blogging and social media. Keep in mind 2016 will be the seventh annual Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference so we have covered many topics. Topics that will be most successful are those at an advanced level or covering new ground.
  • Business & Career: Many beer bloggers wish to launch from their blog to a part-time or full-time career in consulting, events, or even brewing.
  • Beer Industry: These sessions will not include beer pouring and can include a wide range of topics, from current trends in brewing to best practices for interviewing brewers. All content should be of interest to beer bloggers and writers.
  • Beer: Most sessions at the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference that involve beer take place during meals, events, or sponsored sessions. If you are interested, please contact reno@ZephyrAdventures.com.

Please note this process does not include keynote speakers. Please contact us directly if you have suggestions about a keynote speaker.

WHO SHOULD SUBMIT

Everyone is free to submit suggestions, whether you have attended the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference before or not. You also need not want to present yourself as you can simply suggest a content idea.

SCHEDULE

  • Open call for speakers: November 10 – 22. We will accept your proposals and suggestions until November 22, 2015.
  • Session reviewNovember 23 – 30, 2015. We will review all content submissions. We do not have enough room to include all submissions and so will make decisions on which are most applicable, combine similar sessions, and edit others as we deem appropriate.
  • Alumni voting: First Half of December. We will ask BBC alumni to vote on submissions.
  • Content & Speaker Announcements: Second Half of December. We will update the BBC16 agenda  and contact speakers whose sessions will be included in the conference.

Submit Your Content now and please remember to Register for BBC16, July 8 – 10 in Tampa, Florida.

Beer Bloggers as Beer Journalists

At the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conferences – both the North American and European versions – the discussion of beer blogging versus beer writing seems to arise almost every year.

Are beer bloggers less professional than paid beer journalists? Do they specifically want to be, reveling in their lack of editorial restrictions? Should breweries and beer-centric regions treat them differently?

Our view has always been that beer blogging is just one medium for writing about beer, so that beer bloggers are beer writers but not all beer writers use the blog form.

Having said that, the details are important:

  • Beer bloggers generally don’t get paid for their writing, which means they might not have as much time to do research for an article
  • Beer bloggers generally don’t have an editor, which means it is on them to produce a quality product in terms of grammar and spelling
  • Beer bloggers have few restrictions on what they choose to write about, which means it is up to them to come up with content interesting to their readers
  • Beer bloggers have few restrictions on taking free product or complimentary event tickets, other than revealing this, which means they need to set their own standards for when and what they publish when they receive things for free
  • Beer bloggers do not have the backing of a periodical to open doors for them, which means it is their responsibility to hustle for access, quotes, and inside information

Good beer bloggers blur the lines with all of the above, in the best cases producing articles and photos that rival that of any print journalist. The European Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference this past August in Belgium produced an amazing number of these types of articles. For just one example, it is well worth reading this piece by Breandán Kearney on his blog Belgian Smaak:

“In Belgium, It’s Brewing Beer”: Changing Landscapes and Opportunity for the ‘Belgium Family Brewers’

Frankly, with its depth of reporting, quotes from key industry figures, and insightful analysis one might expect to read this piece in the New York Times rather than in one beer enthusiast’s blog. But those attending the annual Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference see this type of reporting and meet this type of beer blogger all the time.

Beer Tourism

Is the term “beer tourism” on your radar? It should be on yours and it is on ours – see below for information on a workshop we are creating about Beer Tourism.

Beer Tourism is just coming into its own and, like craft beer in general, is booming. Beer Tourism can take a number of forms. In increasing intensity, beer tourism involves:

  • Seeking out the local brewpub or brewery when you are traveling for work or vacation
  • Actually planning your travels based on the local beer scene, including breweries and festivals
  • Taking an organized beer tour of a city you visit
  • Taking an actual beer vacation, organized by one of a dozen or so vacation beer tour operators

Beer Tourism is critical for many breweries, which if they are small often make most of their profits selling beer from their tasting room rather than via the three-tier system. It is becoming equally critical as a driver of economic success for the regions known for great beer as well as the hotels, restaurants, and other businesses in those regions that profit from incoming beer tourism visitors.

We at Zephyr Adventures, in addition to running the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference in North America and Europe, also organize an annual Wine Tourism Conference. This year, we are creating a three-hour workshop on Beer Tourism that will take place from 8:30 – 11:30 AM on Wednesday, November 18 at the Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Virginia just outside Washington DC. Our speakers include:

  • Mariah Calagione from Dogfish Head brewery
  • Virginia Brewers Guild Tourism & Marketing Committee Co-Chair Kevin O’Connor from O’Connor Brewing
  • Margo Knight Metzger, Executive Director of the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild
  • Tommy Miller of Richmond Brewery Tours

The cost is only $125. For an extra $75, you can stay to attend a three-hour workshop in the afternoon on either Digital Marketing for the Beer Industry or Creating and Growing a Food, Wine, and Beer Tour Company. Plus, if you are a Citizen Beer Blogger use the code PRESS for a 50% discount.

For complete information and to register, visit http://winetourismconference.org/workshops/.

Zephyr Adventures is Hiring

Zephyr Adventures is hiring three marketing professionals with an application deadline of September 20th:

  • Conferences Marketing, Communications, and Sales Manager: full time and virtual
  • Chief Operating Officer of a new Marketing Agency: full time but requiring relocation
  • Contract Work in September and October to Market Beer Workshops

Zephyr Adventures has been operating since 1997 as an active tour company and now also runs wine, beer, and food tours through its sister company Taste Vacations. In addition, Zephyr created the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2008 and now runs six conferences per year related to wine, beer, food, and fitness.

We are a lifestyle company and only engage in industries we find fun and exciting.

The new two marketing professionals will be our seventh and eighth employees. Zephyr is entirely a virtual company with each person working out of his or her own home office, although the COO job above will likely require relocation. We do not work defined office hours and all Zephyr employees are free to take time off whenever they want to run, take a yoga class, or just go food shopping. For complete information on the two jobs above and to apply, see Zephyr Adventures is Hiring.

In addition, Zephyr is looking to hire a marketing professional similar to that posted in the first job above on a 1/4 or 1/2 time basis for the next two months. The individual will market two beer industry workshops (Beer Tourism and Digital Marketing for the Beer Industry) that will take place November 18th in Virginia. If you have similar skills to what is listed in the above marketing job and are interested in a part-time contract, please email Allan Wright (allan_wright at zephyradventures dot com).

2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference Heading to Tampa Bay, Florida

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The Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference heads to a different, beer-oriented location every year. While much of the actual professional content of the conference could be held anywhere, the conference is also very much about beer and the local beer scene. By moving the conference each year, attendees get exposed to new and exciting breweries, beers, and beer cultures while local breweries get introduced to the BBC and its attendees.

Which leads us to the announcement of the 2016 Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference. We will be heading to Tampa Bay, Florida from July 8-10, 2016! Registration for BBC16 is open now.

Tampa Bay is more than just a sunny spot. It’s a sunny BEER spot. Home to 45 production breweries according to Tampa Bay Brew News, with many more in the planning stages, the Tampa Bay area is teeming with beer activity. Tampa ranked second in a poll of best beer towns by USA Today in 2014. Tampa Bay’s Cigar City Brewing came in 5th place in the “Top 10 Breweries 2015” category at this year’s United States Open Beer Championship in which nearly 4,000 beers were entered from around the globe.

In determining where to locate the conference, we look at dozens of potential locations and include a number of criteria. The will of our attendees is very important but, sometimes, we also like to choose places that are up-and-coming beer scenes not yet on the radar of our alumni. Tampa Bay has a surging beer scene we think our attendees will love.

Another primary consideration is the local reception we receive when reaching out to potential host cities. In this case:
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  • The Visit Tampa Bay organization has been awesome in prioritizing the conference because they recognize the BBC and its attendees can help tell the story of Tampa’s beer scene to the world.
  • The local community has committed to provide two beer dinners, Live Beer Blogging, and a Saturday evening party as part of the conference – all with local beers.
  • We had six attendees from Florida at this year’s conference, including local Tampa beer blogger and BBC Advisory Board member Gerard Walen from the blogs Road Trips for Beer and Beer in Florida, who has been and will be a big help in making sure the conference features the best of the area.
  • We were able to get a great rate of only $139 at the four-star Marriott Tampa Waterside hotel, which has been stellar in providing us the space we need for the conference (including room to do breakout sessions next year).

Worried about visiting Florida in the summer? There are many reasons to visit Tampa Bay in the summer and beer is only one of them. In addition, we know the summer months work well for our attendees and flights to Tampa should be very reasonable.

The 2015 conference in Asheville sold out three months in advance at 160 attendees. We have upped our capacity to 180 for next year but still expect to sell out. Registration for BBC16 is open now. We look forward to seeing you in sunny and over-the-top beer-oriented Tampa Bay, Florida July 8-10, 2016!

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BBC Changing Name to the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference

bbcThe Beer Bloggers Conference is changing its name to the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference.

On the one hand, this might seem like a big deal to change our name and logo. On the other hand, we think it simply reflects what the conference already is.

The Beer Bloggers Conference has always been inclusive. We don’t judge beer bloggers as to their writing or frequency. We welcome all beer sponsors regardless of who they are. And we have always had print beer writers who don’t blog attend our conferences.

In many industries, there has been a rift between bloggers (New Media) and writers (Old Media). In the same way the beer industry is more cooperative than competitive, this rift has never really been an issue in the beer world.

In fact, we actually already consider all beer bloggers to be beer writers, since that is what they do. Beer blogging is a specific platform for writing and not all beer writers use this platform, which is why we decided to change our name to be more inclusive.

Our URL has remained the same and we are still using the #bbc15 and #ebbc15 hashtags, at least for now.

So whether you consider yourself a beer writer or beer blogger, please consider joining us at the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference or the European Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference this summer!

Call for Host Bids for the 2016 Beer Bloggers Conference

We are currently in the process of determining the host for the 2016 Beer Bloggers Conference in North America and are seeking bids from host cities.

In our selection of a host city, we really look at two things:

  1. Is the city a desirable place to visit for beer bloggers? Generally this means a dozen or more local breweries with many times more than that in the state or province, at least a couple of really intriguing breweries high on bloggers’ to-visit lists, and a strong local beer culture.
  2. Is there a group of locals willing to support the conference through provision of meals, sponsor support, an excellent venue, and help with local contacts? At minimum, this means a) finding a host hotel or other venue that recognizes the value of hosting the conference and is willing to provide meeting space at no charge and b) finding two dinner sponsors for approximately 150 people. Even better is to rally the local beer industry to have them sponsor some of the conference events such as Live Beer Blogging, a pre-conference excursion, or an evening party.

It is sometimes possible for us to cobble together the local support on our own, sponsor by sponsor. However, it is much more efficient and creates a better conference if there is one local player (usually a tourism marketing agency, brewers association, convention & visitors bureau, or influential brewery) that takes the lead and organizes the local community.

If you believe your city would make a great host location for BBC16, please contact Allan Wright (allan@ this website URL) to request more information.

The 20 Most Influential Beer Websites in the World (2015)

One year ago we created the first-ever analysis of the most influential beer websites in the world. Below is an updated version for 2015.

Our analysis includes three factors:

  • Alexa Rating: While this is not a perfect indicator of a website’s popularity, it is easy to access and relatively accurate.
  • Facebook Likes: Given the influence of social media, we considered the number of Facebook likes.
  • Twitter Followers: The same goes for Twitter.

We dropped incoming links as a factor in this year’s analysis because Google’s tool for this as become increasingly inaccurate. We analyzed a total of 85 popular English-language beer-related websites. We allocated from 25 to 1 points for each time a site was in the top 25 of one of the above three factors. In other words, the website with the best Alexa rating received 25 points and the website with the 25th best Alexa rating received one point. With three categories, the maximum score is 75. We recorded data on January 1, 2015.

20 Most Influential Beer Websites in the World

Rank
Company
Website
Score
1Heinekenwww.heineken.com63
2Beer Advocatehttp://beeradvocate.com57
3Dogfish Head Craft Brewerywww.dogfish.com52
4New Belgium Brewingwww.newbelgium.com/50
5Stone Brewing Companyhttp://stonebrewing.com/48
6Bud Lightwww.budlight.com45
7 tieBudweiserwww.budweiser.com42
7 tieCoors Lightwww.coorslight.com42
9Miller Litewww.millerlite.com41
10Untappedhttp://untappd.com/29
11Sierra Nevada Brewing Companywww.sierranevada.com28
12Rogue Aleswww.rogue.com26
13Samuel Adamswww.samueladams.com25
14 tieDrink Craft Beerwww.drinkcraftbeer.com24
14 tieBJ's Brewhousehttp://bjsbrewhouse.com/24
14 tieDos Equiswww.dosequis.com24
14 tieBrewDogwww.brewdog.com24
14 tieRateBeer.comwww.ratebeer.com24
19 tieGuinnesswww.guinness.com22
19 tieMore Beer!www.morebeer.com22

Our top three websites:

  • Heineken remains the Most Influential Beer Website in the World with 63 out of a possible 75 points. It dominates in number of Facebook fans (over 19 million), scored fifth in Alexa rating, and rated 9th in the number of Twitter followers.
  • Beer Advocate magazine again took the number two spot, scoring first in both Alexa rating  with a score of 6,832 (meaning it is the 6,832nd most popular website in the world but the most popular beer website in terms of visitors that use the Alexa toolbar) and number of Twitter followers (490,054).
  • Dogfish Head surpassed New Belgium Brewing as the third-most influential beer website primarily because we dropped the Google incoming links factor, which favored New Belgium.

Other interesting facts about the analysis:

  • The average Alexa rating of the top 25 most popular beer websites is 17% lower than last year. This means the most popular beer websites are 17% more popular than last year compared to all other websites in the world. This is pretty amazing, especially since the number of websites increases every year.
  • The sum of Facebook fans of the top 25 most popular beer websites on Facebook grew from 56 million to 62 million, while the sum of Twitter followers grew from 2.2 million to 3.2 million, a 45% increase in just one year.
  • Big brewery websites dominate in terms of Facebook fans. Budweiser, Bud Light, Guinness, Coors Light, Dos Equis, Miller Light, Carlsberg, Corona, and Tiger Beer are the top 10, all with over one million fans.
  • However, craft breweries take three of the top five spots in the rankings (Dogfish Head, New Belgium, and Stone) thanks in part because only Miller Lite out of the big boys competes with them in terms of Twitter followers. Why this is, we don’t know.

Please remember the following.

  1. We undoubtedly made mistakes. Take a look at the data (Most Influential Beer Websites Analysis), which shows only those sites receiving a score, and please provide any corrections or sites we are missing so we can update future versions.
  2. This analysis is a snap shot in time. The stats change daily. We’ll do this analysis again next year.
  3. Deciding what factors into the ranking is arbitrary. We know Alexa rating is biased towards a certain type of site visitor and realize social media plays heavily into these results. We are open to other suggestions but think this is a good start.

Please tell us what you think!

Note: If you appreciate the time and effort we put into this analysis, please consider promoting this post on Facebook or Twitter. You can follow Zephyr Adventures or the Beer Bloggers Conference on Twitter and like us on Facebook (Zephyr, Beer Bloggers Conference). Who knows? Perhaps some year we’ll make our own list.

Zephyr Adventures in the New York Times

Taste Vacations, the new food, wine, beer, and spirits tour company from Beer Bloggers Conference organizer Zephyr Adventures, was included in yesterday’s New York Times travel section.

I would like to say we were “featured” in the paper but the article was just a few paragraphs. Still, the New York Times is one of the best locations for a tour company (or any company) to appear in print and we have already received information requests from all over the country from this one article.

The article focused on Taste Vacations’ food tours and the New York Times’ interest in this shows how hot food in general and food tourism in particular is right now. Cooking shows are immensely popular on television, eating local is a priority for many people, and food tourism – actually engaging with local producers while you are traveling – is also on the upswing. The same is true of beer and beer tourism.

Consider joining Taste Vacations’ 2015 food tours in Peru, the Basque country of Spain, or Tuscany in Italy or join our Affiliate Program to receive commissions if you refer your readers to us.

2015 Beer Bloggers Conference Already 25% Sold Out

The 2015 Beer Bloggers Conference is already 1/4 sold out with 39 people registered and a capacity of “140 or maybe 150” according to our host hotel.

This was the first year we have ever secured next year’s venue in advance and announced the location live at the current year’s conference. Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company announced the Asheville location and date live during his keynote speech in San Diego.

Clearly, this has had a big effect as we are well advanced to selling out the entire 2015 conference, which is still 10.5 months away! Don’t say we didn’t warn you …

We are working hard to secure a location for the European Beer Bloggers Conference and will announce that as soon as we can.