There are few things I find more professionally and socially rewarding than food blogging. If I ever tire of cooking, food photography, or food culture, I will still post just to afford myself the opportunity to attend blogger conferences.
I have met people from around the world that I would never have encountered otherwise. These people are creative, smart, and inspiring. We are also one positive group of folks! But what can you expect from food. Good, quality food has a way of lifting one's spirits.
Hoperatives, a Cincinnati beer blogging group, took a chance on an opportunity to bring a few of us happy bloggers together for the 5B: Believers in Better Beer, Bites and Blogging Conference. And if there is anything happier than food bloggers, well, it's likely beer bloggers.
Last Saturday about 40 of us spent the day learning, engaging and sharing. Mindy, Jonathan and I each traveled up on our own schedules from the Bluegrass, and we were outsiders to this group. As a result, I learned a significant amount about the Cincinnati brewery scene, along with some tips in social media and blog design that I can apply to my own work.
I might also mention that when you are obtaining such good information, it doesn't hurt to sit down and pop open a Schlafly beer at 10:30 am. Beer blogging conferences just might be a little better than food blogging conferences.
I’ll admit that I may have been as excited about lunch as the conference itself. Our coordinators arranged for Cafe de Wheels to park outside the convention center for us. I currently live in a food truck desert, so I couldn't stop thinking about this all day. I even braved the cold temperatures to place and pick up my order which turned out to be one of the best burgers I have had in a long time. Food trucks have sit-down restaurant burgers beat every time.
This conference provided plenty of perks including admission to the Cincy Winter Beerfest on Friday and Saturday with a connoisseur ticket on Saturday. In this case connoisseur means delicious appetizers paired with craft beers.
Here are a few of my favorites. You’ll have to forgive my failure to state the direct source for some of the foods. I was banking on finding some sort of list of food vendors online and haven’t been able to do so. I took only limited notes at the event so if you were there, please feel free to fill me in!
My favorite savory food were these tasty Slow Sliders - a combination of all things local. Not only that, but you could tell how fresh the ingredients were with each bit – a really outstanding sandwich if you like bratwurst, and I do.
Next was the house-made braunschweiger (a liverwurst) from Virgil’s Café paired with Crispin Maple flavored cider. I got the impression that few people were willing to try this. They were missing out! While I can’t eat a ton of braunschweiger, I grew up with it and thoroughly enjoy it on occasion. And that cider? The maple really cut that standard cider flavor making this one even better than others I’ve tasted.
I promise every beer I drank was not of the fruity variety, but this Framboesa (raspberry) was one of my favorites. I like it when my fruity beers really do taste like the fruit they are named for, and this one did without a doubt.
And then came the grand finale. Actually, for me it was the appetizer because to ensure I got one, I went there first. Bacon S’mores! Homemade marshmallows studded with pieces of bacon, torched to perfection, sandwiched between two Snickerdoodles with chocolate. I decided to only eat one cookie to pace myself, but whoa – they were as amazing as they sound.
Next some of us headed down to the actual beerfest. Over 300 craft beers were available. Absolutely impressive, but I have to admit, I'm not sure how gung-ho I would be to drive up and attend the beerfest itself. I was in good company so I had a great time, but it was absolutely packed. Your ticket provided a tasting glass and 25 tasting tickets which is A LOT of beer.
The lines for the well known breweries, Rogue, Bell's, and Blue Moon along with the well known local breweries such as Kentucky Ale, wrapped all the way around the building. It would have been at least a 30-45 minute wait for a 5-8oz beer. We started finding the smaller breweries with shorter lines to try out so we'd actually get a drink. This turned out to be a better plan for trying something new anyway.
Let me try to prove my point regarding how packed it was. When have you ever seen a Men’s bathroom line this long?!
The one beer I set out to try was Kentucky Ale’s Kentucky Coffee Stout made with Alltech’s Café Citadelle from the Sustainable Haiti project, and I succeeded. I like coffee. I like beer. It only gets better when you put them together. I especially liked how smooth this one was and the coffee flavor was strong which equals good in my book.
It was great to see all the craft beers, but lines wear me out. As a perk for attending the conference, though, it was well worth it and a nice finish to a fun day.