With the National Homebrewer’s Conference (NHC) being held in San Diego this year, I was very excited for the excuse to get out to that beer-centric city. Even better, with our first run of Beer Dust IPA packs ready, we were able to take almost our whole company out there as well! I’ve been to several NHC’s over the years including Minneapolis Minnesota, Seattle Washington, and Grand Rapids Michigan, but always as a general convention goer, not as a professional. The experience was a bit different to be sure and I plan to blog about it over the next few days, just to give folks an idea of what goes on at these events…
My wife and I got out to San Diego on the Monday prior to the event, in order to explore the area a bit before things got crazy. Over the next few days we visited Lost Abbey/Port Brewing, Stone World Bistro, Ballast Point (twice because they were awesome), AleSmith, and Green Flash Cellar 3. We barely scratched the surface of the amazing breweries and beer bars in the area before the official NHC events started!
Our first order of Beer Dust business began on Wednesday morning after registration for the conference. By then we had gathered up Keith, Mike, and Kristin–all meeting up at the Town & Country Hotel and Conference Center. My first impression as I walked into the place was that time had stopped here sometime in the mid-1960’s: old-school signs and fonts more appropriate to Rat-Pack era Las Vegas, musty odors, well-aged wood, hideous old carpeting, and peeling gold gilt fixtures were all in abundance. All that being said, the staff was great and the space was very good for our conference.
We got into the large ballroom where the Expo was taking place and found our booth space. We set up our banner, tablecloth, and much of our beer serving equipment fairly quickly. Being unable to ship CO2 canisters, we had to take a field trip to The Homebrewer, a local homebrew supply shop that even brews their own beer to serve at the store. I wish Midwest or Northern Brewer back home could do that! The folks there were very helpful in setting us up with what we needed to get our jockey box up and running. Next we walked a block or so to Tiger!Tiger!–a great beer bar that serves up some amazing wood fired sandwiches like pork belly bahn mi and pork loin. They also brought it strong for NHC by serving up samplers of some very rare Lost Abbey beers that we couldn’t even taste at the actual brewery! That was one of my favorite places in San Diego, so check them out! On the way back to the car we got to watch an up-close random street-fight that went down right in front of us and a well placed cop car. Good times in SD!
And from there we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try out Keith’s favorite brewery Modern Times…
OK, enough drinking and back to work! Previously the homebrew industry events were a separate event from NHC, but this year there was a homebrew industry track for presentations at NHC, putting industry folks in closer contact with their target audience: actual homebrewers! As one of the official sponsors of the event, we were invited to a special industry-only reception on Wednesday night. I’m not always incredibly social, so I wasn’t sure what to expect (suave men in tuxes drinking martini’s) but was pleased to find it very laid back and fun. With great beers from Ballast Point in hand, we all had a chance to mingle with homebrew shop owners, other Expo vendors, and friendly AHA officials. My wife (a Huntsville, Alabama native) even discovered the folks who had opened up Wish You Were Beer–a great beer-only liquor store that I reviewed on my own blog a few years ago! We had a great time that evening and I’m very glad we took part!
Next up: Thursday–NHC Festivities Really Get Going!