I used my reporter status to swing a media pass to the Brewers Association Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America at the Austin Hilton, which I attended today. It was quite a fascinating spectacle, although there ultimately wasn't much in it for me personally. Now those of you who are brewers, on the other hand, probably would have been fascinated. Just about every aspect of the brewing industry had a booth at the trade show, from hops and grain growers to equipment manufacturers to producers of advertising and T-shirts. I was acutely aware that I really didn't belong there — I'm strictly on the consuming end of beer, not the producing end. But it was an interesting glimpse into the business that gives me so much joy.
Ultimately, I didn't get what I came for — the panel I attended didn't really touch on what I hoped it would — but I did come away with some great stuff: A couple of free samples in the trade show (Ommegang Hennepin, a very nice Belgian farmhouse saison, and Rahr & Sons Stormcloud IPA, which was impressively hoppy), and a cool swag bag that included a tall beer glass, a DVD of the documentary The American Brew (a history of brewing in the U.S. that recently aired on PBS), and two bottles of beer created by a collection of Austin brewers. They're both double wheats, but one (which I'm drinking now) has prickly pear juice in it. I expected it to be awful, but it's actually all right, despite the girly pink color. (M'Lady strongly disagreed and made the same yuck face that she gets whenever I convince her to try whiskey.) Not something I'd drink every day, but tasty.