Continuing the story of Beer Dust’s first NHC!
The previous afternoon of busy booth duty at the Expo and the epic craft beer tasting that was Pro-Brewer’s Night had resulted in a group of very tired Beer Dust staff! I couldn’t quite get myself out of bed in time for a 9 AM lecture, desiring more sleep instead of beer knowledge. I did make it later to a very good talk on roasting coffee and putting coffee in beer by Micheal Tonsmiere and the fine folks from Modern Times Brewing. And hey, they even served up some of their great coffee beers during the talk to wake us up!
Soon it was back to work at the Homebrewer’s Expo, manning the booth and talking about Beer Dust to all the folks who stopped by. We still had a good crowd visiting us at the booth through most of the day, which was really cool for all of us. But there was a lot of standing up at the booth! We did run into some technical difficulties on this particular day when we ran out of one of our Beer Dust Taste Challenge beers. We had brought all-grain and extract versions of both Beer Dust and tap water IPA’s to compare, but had blown through the all-grain version much more quickly than expected. When we hooked up our extract versions we found that they had not traveled from Minnesota to SD quite as well as we would have liked and had become fairly yeasty. The taste difference was still well apparent, but we opted to just serve the last of Keith’s all-grain IPA instead to make sure we were serving quality beer. Hey we learned a valuable lesson about shipping kegs, and people still seemed happy with the beer!
During all of this mayhem, we all took breaks to wander the Expo and check out all the other vendors. We played games for swag, got free packs of yeast and hops, won T-shirts, and more! This was like a carnival for homebrewers, but without the scary clowns! Through-out the event there were local homebrew clubs serving up cool beers at at the hospitality suite, and several commercial breweries like Green Flash, and Ballast Point were along the other side of the place. Basically it was hard to walk far without getting your taster glass filled! I think Ballast Point really brought it strong to the Expo, serving up about 8-10 beers at any one time with frequent rotations and some cool R&D batches that haven’t even made it into production yet. Yum!
Once the Expo closed down for the night, we all headed out to try to get into the Blind Lady Alehouse, but found the place insanely packed and unable to fit our large party. We wandered the area a bit until we stumbled upon Zia Gourmet Pizza which was less busy. They had a surprisingly good beer selection, wonderful pizza, and very friendly staff. I would certainly go back there.
With stomachs full of pizza we returned to the Town & Country for the much loved Club Night. The previous night had been the pro brewers’ time to show off their stuff, but this night was where the homebrew clubs go crazy! The weather was very pleasant and the event was held around the labyrinthine grounds of the hotel and conference center. Many of the clubs brought elaborate serving stations or bars and dressed up in costumes, while some just brought their best beers to share with less fanfare. Being homebrew, you can get served a very wide range of beers, many experimental. As with any beers, some were great and some…not so much. Between a few icky ones and a desire not to get totally drunk, the palm trees drank well that night. However, some of the homebrews I tried were on par or even better than some of the commercial beers from the night before! A stand-out for me was the Societe du Lambic which served a huge variety of very well done sours, including a fantastic kumquat lambic. These guys had a huge line all night, but still not quite as long as Russian River from the night before. Their sister club the Society of Barley Engineers was right next door and served up their Angry Dragon IPA–one of the best IPA’s I had this trip! I was also pretty impressed with the guys from the Arizona Society of Homebrewers who had special Cards Against Humanity style cards made up for the night. I will be adding those to my card stash!
I was also pleased also with amount of meads served up that night. We followed Susan Ruud (now a professional mead maker) around to where the best were located. She always seems to know where to go! I think my favorite was a prickly pear mead from the Arizona folks, and I might have gone back a couple of times…
Yup this was a great day in San Deigo! Off to a very late rest and ready for one more day of this crazy conference!