Unless you have been living under a rock for the last month or so, you probably know that this past Friday and Saturday was the two night Cincy Winter Beerfest along with the 5B conference at the Cincinnati Duke Energy Convention Center. If you didn’t make it downtown this weekend for the festivities, you missed quite the good time, in my humble opinion.
My planning for this weekend began in December when I booked my hotel room and submitted my vacation request at work. Did I need to take 5 days off for a two day event, well no, but as I write this on Monday, I do not regret taking the long weekend one bit, was kind of a fun mini vacation kind of thing. Prior to heading downtown Friday, I stopped and got some snacks and the all-important case of bottled water. Hydration is very important when you plan to sample hundreds of craft beers in two nights, as you are aware from reading John’s post on how to survive a beer festival posted last week ;).
Being “dedicated to the craft” as I like to say, Jared (#14) and I purchased the upgraded 5B package which included two nights of Beer Fest with Connoisseur tickets both nights. For the un-indoctrinated, connoisseur tickets allow you access to a special event area featuring the finest beer and food pairings featuring the best local restaurants and breweries from across the region. Connoisseurs enjoy private restrooms and a complimentary coat check which is away from the sporadic craziness of the VIP and General Admission main event. We were in a larger banquet area this year with more room and table space so things never really got uncomfortably crowded. The musicians playing were also a welcome feature, all of this made for a very enjoyable and relaxed atmosphere. If you enjoy fine food and beer, I highly recommend investing in the upgraded tickets.
The main event area which was comprised of the entire convention center floor was organized very similar to last year and offered over 300 beer selections from all over the nation. There was an excellent variety of styles and flavors to suit any pallet. The crowds were large but nowhere near as uncomfortable or rowdy as they were in 2012. It seems like a lot of people stayed away from Saturday this year which really made it a lot more enjoyable. On the main floor, we spent a lot of time with the group representing the Northern Kentucky Homebrewers Guild most of which were clad in our guild shirts which apparently made us look somewhat official. We were asked a lot of questions by a lot of people who were just beginning to explore craft beer. It was really a fun time getting to talk beer with so many experts and novices alike.
Saturday morning was the second annual 5B (Believers in Better Beer, Bites and Blogging) conference hosted by Hoperatives. Speakers from all over the region came together to discuss blogging and to help local bloggers, regardless of topic, stay motivated, organized and engaged with their audiences. Local beer distributers graciously sponsored a beer tasting at lunch and bottle and glassware share ended the event in the afternoon which were excellent additions to this year’s conference. Regardless of what track you were focusing on, it seemed like everyone really took a lot of great information away, and the collaboration and networking has continued in the days following the conference.
If you decided not to attend this year, you missed out on a great time. This is one of my favorite weekends of the year and I think many in attendance will concur that in large part, it was a great event and wonderful opportunity for the advocates of better beer, food and blogging to get together to both celebrate and introduce the Cincinnati area at large about the unique and passionate community that has been created in Cincinnati.
My hats off to Tom and Carla from Hoperatives, the staff and volunteers from Cincy Winter Beerfest and to all those who came out and celebrated Craft Beer and blogging in Cincinnati. I also want to commend the members and volunteers from the Cincinnati Malt Infusers who hosted the 2013 All-American Homebrew Competition on Saturday morning as well. It took a lot of people and hard work to run these events this weekend, so on behalf of all those who enjoyed themselves, thank you to all that dedicated your time and talent. Now that I have sobered up, I am already looking forward to next year.