Monday, June 29, 2009

NHC '09!!

Well, NHC was amazing. So much good stuff happened! I'll cut to the chase:

Day one was Wednesday, June 17th and it started at 8am to get on the bus for the "Iron Liver Tour"! This was a 'pre-conference event' that was hosted by the the Heart of the Valley homebrew club and I was one of the lucky 45 people that payed to go. It was a bus tour that started at the Oakland Convention Center and went up to Santa Rosa making stops at Triple Rock, Lagunitas, Russian River and 3rd Street Aleworks. The bus was stocked with amazing beer as well to keep us entertained on the way there too :) The first fun surprise was that Sam Calagione was also one of the lucky 45 that payed to go! For those of you who don't know him, Sam is the mastermind behind Dogfish Head Brewery. Here's a picture of us together on the tour:
and here's me with my first beer at 8 am. The new Sierra Nevada Kellerweis.
It was quite dealicious! First stop on the tour (after several beers on the bus, including Mirror Mirror YUUMM) was Lagunitas!
The tour of Lagunitas was awesome! The owner took us around and talked about everything that was going on and even let us all grab a beer right off the bottling line before it got labeled. It was a new beer of there's called Little Sumthin'. And it was goood! Fresh from the source :) Next we made our way to Russian River where Vinnie himself was there to serve us EVERYTHING they had (in pitchers) with lots of delicious pizza! Pliney, Consecration, Supplication droooool. After that we went over to Third Street for a quick drink and then it was down the road to Triple Rock where I had an amazing russian imperial stout called Keyser Soze. Oh boy was it a treat! Then we hit a really nice bottle shop and got back to the convention center. By then, it's very safe to say that despite my honest effort I was very drunk. Getting back to Alli's parents house on the BART was very interesting that night.

Next day was the beginning of the conference!! I got there at 8 to register, but judging was until the opening toast at 1. So I went with Alli's dad out to Anchor, which was closed and then to Speakeasy where all we could get a a small talk with the delivery guy because they're only open for 4 hours on Fridays to the public. So then I came back the the convention center for the opening toast!
Charlie Papazian had a great speech to listen to while drinking the event specific beer, "Sippin' on the dock of the Bay" IPA, and then we were off and rolling! I got started by going to listen to 'Wood Aging' by Matt Brynildson from Firestone Walker. It was awesome because he talked about how to do it at home for cheap too. Then I went and listened to Vinnie Cilurzo from Russian River talk about "funkification" or brewing with bugs. It was great. And after that it was Pro-Brewers Night! Which was just basically a really good beerfest. Here's some pictures:

That night was a complete blast and I had dozens of amazing beers, but found myself posted up at the Deschutes booth for most of the night because they were pouring Mirror Mirror. YUUM

The next day was by far my favorite day, not only for the conference either, maybe ever! The first two seminars were fairly hard to get to because of the hangover I was nursing from Pro Brewers Night, but completely worth it. They were duel seminars with Randy Mosher and Ray Daniels. They were called "making better beer" and the two played off each other really well and had tons of awesome information and entertainment. I could listen to Randy Mosher talk about just about any thing for very long periods of time, he's a great speaker. Here's me and Randy and a view of what the seminars rooms were like:

After their first two seminars was Ken Grossman's Key note speach. It was really cool. He talked about being a homebrewer starting at a very young age and all he went through to get to where Sierra Nevada is now.
After that it was back to the seminars and Randy and Ray had two more sessions that were great. At 5 that night I got together with the WAHA gang and was lucky enough to sit in with them for an interview with Basic Brewing on the decoction mash experiment they did. Basically, if you don't already know, WAHA held a decoction clinic for people who wanted to know more about decoction mashes and then from that decided to make 3 of the same beer using different techniques and see how they tasted finished side by side. The beer was a dopplebock and the first beer was made normal with a single infusion mash, the second with a three step decoction mash and the third was a single infusion mash but with 4% melanoidin malt substituted. It was a lot of fun, and cool to get to drink their beers there.
After that it was time for club night! I have honestly never had so much fun at a beer event! Here's some pictures:

As you can see, there's a picture of me with all the WAHA guys, and all the WAHA kegs, and the WAHA booth. They rigged up 2 espresso machines to flow beer through as a "northwest randal" One had espresso in it and had a stout running through and the other had fresh Hop Union hops with a tasty IPA running through it. There's some pictures of the fun people and cool booths also including the toilet that was pouring Jamil's amazing Flanders Red and a video of the homebrew slot machine. We didn't win any thing in this video hahaha if you won there was one of two beers and sizes of pours depending on what you spun! awesome. After that the WAHA booth was in the hospitality suite most of the night, but after god knows how many of those flanders reds and all the other amazing beer I was tuckered out and headed back to the girlfriend's parents place.

The next morning was really hard. I was sitting on 3 straight days of drinking and was definitely feeling it. Then the day seemed to be stacked with the most not attention grabbing (interesting none the less) seminars of the whole deal. First was water chemistry that was completely packed in a very small hot room at 9 in the morning. I didn't make it too far in that one. I caught most of it, but needed to get some air and water a few times. Then was John Palmer talking on protiens. Poor John Palmer isn't the greatest public speaker. He's a really smart guy but it was hard to stay completely awake through that one hahaa. Then I did two seminars on yeast health, nutrients and culturing that were also fairly sleepy.

That night was the awards banquet but I didn't get a ticket in time and as it turned out my really great friend who lives in Santa Rosa was in San Fransico that night celebrating her birthday, so I went and had a good time with her instead of the banquet.

All in all it was a totally amazingly fun experience. BIG BIG THANKS to the guys with WAHA. It was awesome to know some guys there and they even let me chum along with them and pour beers at their bar!

It's going to be hard for me to ever say no to this event in the coming years. Next year in Minneapolis and hopefully Seattle soon!

I love beer!

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