I’ve been home for a day now, and as I posted on my Brewer’s Daughter Facebook page , I’m feeling hungover from the Craft Brewers Conference–not from all the beer (and there was a lot of beer)–but the feelings of camaraderie, good will and collaborative nature of all the craft beer people gathered in one really cool city. The warm memories of time spent with my father and Aunt Cathy, longtime friend Maureen Ogle, many new friends, sometime beer industry acquaintances and “tweeps,” sustained me through a cold March Monday back at work. (And where was all the free beer today?)
Easily the biggest highlight for me was our Saturday morning session, when Maureen and I introduced Jack to those who had known him for many years, and some who weren’t quite sure who he was–I can’t tell you how it felt to see him embrace his part in brewing history. This is a guy who over the years has avoided every spotlight; he waffled on-and-off about making the trip this time. So, the fact that not only did we get Jack there, but onto the stage and talking about New Albion was a small miracle. Maybe even a big one–he enjoyed it! And Maureen, Cathy and I were not the only teary ones in the room when everyone got to their feet and gave him a standing ovation at the end of the hour (see photo in my previous post).
Another high point of the conference for me was the meeting of the Pink Boots Society. What an amazing group of strong and inspirational women working in the beer industry! As each person introduced themselves and said who they worked for and what they were doing in craft beer, I felt more and more priveleged to be among them. Women are the future of craft beer for more than reasons of their consumption, I can tell you that with certainty.
Other phenomenal moments in the week included chatting with some of my favorite brewers: Ken Grossman, Charlie Papazian, Sam Calagione, Vinnie Cilurzo and Greg Koch; listening to the keynote conversation between Ken of Sierra Nevada and Fritz Maytag of Anchor Brewing; seeing Jennifer Talley of Squatters Pub Brewery/Salt Lake Brewing Co. become the first woman to win the Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Brewing; all the meet-and-greet opportunities; learning some really interesting things from speakers in the marketing workshops; and a night out at the Public House at Giants Stadium where Sierra Nevada and Russian River Brewing announced a collaborative beer in the works. Oh, and the hot tub on the roof of the hotel–at least twice Cathy and I found ourselves relaxing with the special conference beers (don’t let the coffee cups fool you) in the bubbly warm water under the chilly and sometimes rainy March skies.
Every trip to Northern California makes me believe I could easily leave the Buckeye State behind one of these days. This was no exception. We didn’t spend too much time out of the conference hotel, but Cathy and I did enjoy some fantastic oysters, calamari, seafood cioppino and smooth Napa wine at the Fog Harbor Fish House on Pier 39 overlooking the Bay and Alcatraz. And Jack and his women–me, Cathy, and Maureen– ended our stay with an absolutely perfect meal at Hana Zen–sushi, sake, and lots of laughs!
Jack has extended his stay another week, and I know he’s looking forward to visiting Vinnie and Natalie’s Russian River Brewing to see the New Albion sign, and Mendocino Brewing for a visit with Gary O’Flangan to check out some of the old New Albion equipment, much like my trip last October. With such West Coast hospitality, who knows, maybe we can get Jack back for #CBC2012 in San Diego! I’ll be there.