I'm now into my second week away from home and also, following my brief stop-over in Iceland, my second week in the USA. I am writing this post sitting in the front room of my sister's attractive, weatherboard house in an equally attractive small town, about 40 minutes drive from Cleveland, Ohio, having travelled here across country, initially by Amtrak train from Washington D.C. to Chicago and then a short flight across to Cleveland.
I found time for plenty of writing whilst on the train, but most of the articles I've written are still in draft form and have not been posted yet. Consequently I thought I'd better get something more definite posted, whilst things are still relatively fresh in my mind.
As well as affording the opportunity of visiting my sister and her family, I was primarily over in the United States to attend the 2018 Beer Bloggers& Writer's Conference. This was held at a hotel in Sterling, Virginia, which was a conveniently short hop from Washington Dulles airport.
The conference took place over two days, although there were both pre and post conference excursions either side of the main event. I was only around for the post conference jaunt, and I have written about that separately.
I had an amazing time at the conference and am pleased to say it fulfilled all my expectations. It was good to learn about the craft-brewing scene in America today, which appears to be in a strong and healthy place. Certainly there is far more beer and loads more breweries in the country now, than there was when I was last over here, 10 years ago.
What I have found is there are a lot of what I'd call "extreme beers" - more about that later, but there is certainly a very vibrant scene when it comes to beer and it is especially pleasing to see that craft beer has reached out to the American public at large, helped by an explosion in the number of local breweries.
I met some really nice people at the conference, and it was nice to have been welcomed to the event, as one of only two attendees from outside North America. There were some interesting talks and presentations, some of which I will cover at a later date.
We also had two evening excursions, the first of which was a coach ride deep into the heart of rural Virginia. Here Vanish Farmwoods Brewery acted as our hosts for the evening, showcasing not just their own craft beers, but also brews from some of the other Virginia based breweries.
In pleasant rural surroundings Vanish had laid on an amazing barbeque for us, which included some of the most delicious and tender roast beef it has been my pleasure to have experienced. What I liked about the place was it was very family oriented, with a large outdoor play area for the kids, plus a large off-sales section where visitors could load up with bottles and cans to take away, as well as filling up their "growlers" with freshly-brewed craft beer.
The second evening event was a dinner hosted by Lost Rhino Brewing, who were situated much closer to the conference hotel. We got to enjoy yet more beer and another great selection of excellent food to help soak it all up. This was a good session to just chill out at, and mingle and chat with fellow delegates. I did make a whole series of "rough" notes, as to which beers I enjoyed and those I was not quite so keen on.
The notes, together with a host of other beer and conference-related stuff, are buried somewhere in my luggage, so I will wait until I'm back in Blighty before I go hunting for it. In the meantime, I just wanted to get something about the conference posted, so read, enjoy and let me know what you think.