Tuesday, 1 July 2014

European Beer Bloggers Conference 2014 - Overview

Introduction to Irish Craft Beers
I returned late last night, after four excellent days in Dublin; two of which were spent attending the 2014 European Beer Bloggers Conference. It was my first such event, and also my first time in both Ireland and its capital. I had a great time, both at the conference, and in exploring Dublin itself; visiting some of the city’s many unspoilt pubs, and doing the cultural bit as well. There is much I want to write about; so where to start?

Well an overview of the conference itself is as good a place as any, so what exactly went on over the two day period? Fellow blogger, Tandleman, who has been to one of these events before, made the following comment on my pre-conference post: “You will be pissed from dawn till dusk. Or have the opportunity to be. Trust me on that one.”

Lunchtime in the courtyard
He was right of course, with the proviso of “the opportunity to be”, such was the amount, and variety of beer available that, had I chosen to, I really would have been legless from sunrise to sunset. However, sensible fellow that I am (or so I like to think), I did try and pace myself, putting variety and quality above quantity. That was the theory, but as both choice and high standards were present in equally large amounts, it was very difficult to restrict one’s sampling to a sensible and moderate level.

So far as the business agenda of the conference was concerned, there were around 70 delegates in attendance. We were a mix of what the organisers have termed “Citizen Bloggers”, media representatives, people from within the brewing industry and various conference sponsors. Also there were Allan Wright, President of  Zephyr Adventures, and his colleague, Cindy Molchany.  Zephyr are the American based organisers of the event, and they  have arranged all the previous conferences. For the past four years, the Beers Bloggers Conferences have taken place annually in both the United States, and in Britain. The Dublin one was therefore the first European event to have been held outside of the UK.

"The Church"
"The Church"
The venue chosen could not have been better for both its central location, plus the facilities it had to offer. “The Church” is, as its name might suggest, a converted and beautifully restored, former 18th Century church. Today it functions as a café, bar, restaurant and nightclub, as well as a place which can hosts meetings and small conferences, such as the EBBC 2014

It is billed as one of Dublin’s top tourist attractions, and it is easy to see why. The staff that looked after us during our say, operated to the highest standards of professionalism, and ensured that the whole event ran without a hitch. Special mention should be made of Head Chef, Simon and his team who cooked and served up an excellent barbecue lunch on the Saturday, and then prepared an equally sumptuous four-course meal the same evening for the end of conference dinner. The latter was held in conjunction with Franciscan Well Brewery, of Cork, who provided five individual craft beers to accompany the meal; a different one for each course.

Un-filtered Pilsner Urquell -from the wood
Franciscan Well were just one of a dozen or so sponsors, without who’s help the conference could not have gone ahead. Premier amongst the event sponsors, were Molson Coors, Pilsner Urquell, Guinness, Carlow Brewing Company (O’Hara’s), Beer Ireland (an organisation formed to represent the interests of the growing number of independent craft brewers in the country), Fǎite Ireland (the National Tourism Development Authority), Vanguard Beer Collective, and the company which hosts many a blog worldwide, Word Press.com.
A little light lunch

Over the course of the next few posts I hope to convey something of what went on at the conference, on both the business and social side of things, and also to mention some of the many individual Bloggers, and characters I met during my time at EBBC 2014.


Allan Wright said...

It is interesting, Paul, that when I returned to the US and mentioned where I had been, one of my friends asked "So, are the bloggers sloppy drunk all weekend?"

I thought for a moment to consider whether I had once seen any single person who appeared sloppy drunk or, for that matter, drunk at all. The answer is no. I think this speaks to the professionalism of all bloggers and other attendees.

Allan Wright
Zephyr Adventures

Paul Bailey said...

I'm not quite sure what "sloppy drunk" means, Allan, but yes I too did not see a single person the worse for drink.

I think all of us were just delighted to be surrounded by so much good beer; and the chance to talk to the people who brewed it, or to discuss the merits of the various brews with our fellow bloggers was something which went against drinking to excess anyway.

Thanks for laying on such a great weekend; I am already looking forward to next year's conference!