Well, it has been, gone and the recovery period is complete - more or less. The European Beer Bloggers Conference didn't change my life, but it did give me a chance to mix with some of the leading lights of UK beer blogging, as well as some of the old lags, the up and coming and wannabees, old friends (and new) and a chance to compare and contrast.
There was a lot of beer, not all of it wonderful, but none of it bad. There was a lot of thoughtfulness and some bollocks, but above all there was a sense of solidarity and mutual support which was pleasing, though if you bring a lot of like or at least similarly minded people together, that's maybe not so surprising. There were some interesting insights about such things as free beer (most can live with that, though not all). There was reticence about "naming and shaming" when beer or pubs are bad, there was geekery and exotic beer seeking, there was hero worship and self deprecation, humour and general good naturedness and above all a sense of tolerance, respect and support, which actually was a little touching. Not much to dislike at all.
In terms of the sessions, I found the "hands on" stuff best. The tasting session on how the same beers tasted different in different glasses was hardly new to me - I'm a self confessed glass snob - but really, if that didn't convince you that scratched old half pint nonics are completely wrong for most beers, then really, you are in the wrong game. The live speed blogging, where brewers had five minutes to go round each of ten tables, pouring and describing their beer, which could then be immediately tweeted or blogged about was tremendous fun. The brewers were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and great exponents of their beers, though to my mind, where a PR company or someone from the marketing department was used, that wasn't quite as good. There really is little substitute for knowing your stuff. It was breathless, got everyone talking and afterwards a chat to the brewers was a great wind down.
Other bloggers have described the dinners - both fantastic fun, though if pushed I'd say I enjoyed the chance to drink some 4% unfiltered Pilsner Urquell marginally better than drinking triple and quadruple beers, washed own by White Shield and I certainly left the latter a darn sight more sober than the first. And I felt better the next day, so that's what's shaded it for me, though I have to say the beers from Sharps were really rather good. (OK not the turbo yeast thingy, but otherwise.)
The more I look back on it all, the more I realise I had a great time and as always while the beer helped of course, it was people that made it what it was. So thanks to my blogging colleagues, the sponsors without whom we'd have been very thirsty indeed and to the organisers. No mean feat pulling it all togther.
Let's do it again sometime.
I was able to confirm another beery dislike to go along with rauchbier. Beer aged in whisky casks. Not for me at all.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, CAMRA Chairman and (local) activist, beer author, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010 and 2011. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
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