On Sunday, at the inaugural Beer Bloggers Conference in Boulder, Colorado, I stood up in front of the room and announced that there would be a European Beer Bloggers Conference in London in 2011.
I’m working with Zephyr Adventures, the organisers who also arrange successful wine and food conferences, on the European one. My role is to help sort out a venue, hotels and sponsors, plus have an input in the agenda and generally tweet and blog the hell out of it – my ‘payment’ was being taken to the US conference to see how they did things over there.
I get to have a good say into what I think will work in Europe. This means that I will be trying to arrange the weekend that I really want to go to. I saw the sessions which worked and the ones which didn’t work so well in Boulder, or at least sessions which wouldn’t work so well in front of a British and European audience. The difference is simple: the European beer blogging community is smaller and people already know one another quite well, therefore the event needs to be more social than academic. Plus, I don’t think there will be many European bloggers who want a two-hour session on maximising SEO, studying analytics or the benefits (or not) to adding adverts to your site (correct me if I’m wrong and we can arrange it!).
I’ve got lots of cool ideas for the conference, there are some great sponsors already and a great location and I’m personally very excited and I think all the other beer bloggers should be too (and I’m not just saying that!). A live beer blogging (kind of like speed dating with breweries) will almost definitely happen, a Bring Your Own Bottle night will be an in-person help-yourself beer swap, there’ll be two beer dinners, I’m hoping for a brewery visit or two, a twitter blind tasting, some food and beer pairing... Not your usual ‘conference’ activity, so I suggest you shed the notion of a boring lecture-style conference; this is an online conference and therefore it’s about all the voices in the room.
I’m sure some people will wonder what the point is but for me it’s about galvanising the beer bloggers and improving the overall quality by looking at issues that surround what we do (such as twitter beer reviews/tasting notes and if they work; the effectiveness of blogging; the industry involvement; the future of beer writing; an open debate about do’s and dont’s of blogging), discussing them in a practical and involving way. It’s also about having a great weekend drinking great beers! It won’t be academic, it’ll be practical and interesting and based around beer and the internet and the best ways of communicating – even if you have no interest in a ‘conference’ it’ll still be a fascinating weekend of events which you won’t be able to enjoy anywhere else, that’s for sure.
It’ll be in May or early June and will last two to three days (Friday and Saturday will be the core, with beer dinners each evening, and then a Sunday plan will be there for those who want to stay on longer - Sunday will hopefully involve a brewery and a London pub crawl, so nothing too demanding!). It’ll be very affordable (it’s currently going to be £65 to attend, but this might change, and that cost will include the evening meals and all the beer you can drink) and we’re also working with hotels to find a good rate for attendees. And it won’t just be UK beer bloggers – I hope there will be European bloggers, US bloggers, industry people, breweries, brewers (pouring their beer), beer writers, food and wine bloggers/writers and more, so quite a mix. It’s also the perfect opportunity for a brewery to talk to the key online writers and present their beers to them.
What do you think? Are you interested in this? What would you like to see at the conference? (This is the US agenda) If anyone has any ideas for sessions then let me know and I'll add them to the list - this is about what we all would like to see there! I’ll be writing about the US conference more and you’ll hopefully get a good feeling about what it was like (and it was excellent!). We’ll be announcing all the important details (dates, venue, hotel, sponsors) in the next few weeks and then in the next few months we’ll announce the definitive agenda as it gets decided.