This past weekend, the Tampa Waterside Marriott hosted beer bloggers from around the country. Although each blogger undoubtedly had different experiences and highlights, I wanted to share some of mine. Here are my Top 10 moments from the conference not ranked in any particular order.
(1) The accommodations.
The Tampa Waterside Marriott not only hosted the weekend conference, but the staff ensured that craft beer was a focus at all times. Ballroom seating was redesigned- often multiple times a day- to host lectures, dinners and social hours. If I’m ever in Tampa again, I can guarantee you that I will be staying at this Marriott again.
Along with the accommodations, Zephyr Conferences deserves a round of applause as well. They did a amazing job making sure the days were filled with events, knowledge and of course… beer.
(2) The food.
The food and beer pairings at the events were exceptional. The focus seemed to be shifted toward how the beer could support the food and not the other way around. This is very much a shift from what I’ve noticed here in Buffalo. One of my favorite pairings was Cigar City Brewing’s Marshal Zhukov paired with a dark chocolate and cherry truffles tart.
(3) This beer poured by this guy.
Of course I had heard lots of positive feedback about Cigar City’s Jai Alai from fellow beer geeks, but for some reason this beer had always seemed to elude my grasp. So I took a picture of Billy Burnes pouring my first (but not last) Jai Alai. He looks just as excited as I was! The reviews I had heard were verified: Jai Alai was filled with peach, melon, grapefruit and tangerine flavors. And the food pairing- pork belly on top of mango salad- was the perfect complement to the fruitiness and depth of the beer.
(4) This slide.
I brought home a wealth of information from the seminars at BBC16. I anticipate (hope) my writing will be improved once I am able to digest all my notes. One of my favorite seminars was by National Beer Wholesalers Association Chief Economist Lester Jones, and this was my favorite slide from the entire conference.
(5) The breweries.
I enjoyed visiting some of Tampa’s finest breweries. The three breweries we visited on a Brew Bus trip were Coppertail Brewing Company, Ulele Spring Brewery and Cigar City Brewing Company. Each one of these breweries possessed its own distinct culture and panache. We were treated to exceptional food at each location, but my favorite was the charbroiled oysters at Ulele. I’m not exposed to much seafood here in Buffalo, but these oysters were beyond delicious when paired with Ulele’s lighter beers.
(6) The people.
This was my first bloggers conference and I made some new friends. Professional relationships were forged over sipping world class beers. I hope to continue to interact with my fellow bloggers and hope they will reach out to me when they find themselves in Buffalo.
(7) The beer. Duh.
I’m not going to lie- the “Night of Many Bottles” nearly incapacitated me for the entire next day. At this event, attendees were tasked with bringing a few bottles of rare or special beer to share. This event happened at 10 p.m. after many hours of drinking. The Night of Many Bottles led to the Morning of Many Hangovers.
(8) This guy.
“Who is this dude dressed in a cow costume?” I said to myself. This ‘udderly’ funny character was none other than JDub’s himself, Jeremy Joerger. He was one of ten brewery representatives that presented beers during a “live blogging” event held at J.J. Taylor Distributing. Each representative had five minutes to pour and describe one of its beers. What beer did JDub’s bring? A milk chocolate porter named Bell Cow, of course.
(9) This beer and this dude.
My plane left at 2 p.m. and Cigar City opened at 11 a.m. Do I need to say anything else? I arrived via Uber at 11:05 a.m. and saddled up to the bar. Behind the bar, I found the same gentleman that had given our group a tour the night before. Oswald, “Os” White is friendly, energetic and the type of person you could listen to all day. Of course he also pours some of the world’s best beer, like this 2014 Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout. Another of my favorites was the Peach White Oak Jai Alai, a beer with tremendous peach and citrus appeal.
(10) The chance to represent Buffalo.
We brought a wide range of beer from many Buffalo breweries. A total of eight different breweries supplied beer for the conference. The real treat was listening to other beer bloggers and writers discuss beer that we were familiar with. And with so much variety we had a beer for everyone.
Thanks to Visit Buffalo Niagara for this wonderful opportunity.
I’m already looking forward to BBC17 which will be held in Milwaukee next year. Cheers!