in 1997 my club (formerly known as Derby Brew Club) won COTY with less than 20 members. That was a different time, that is for sure...
This year we finished a very close second place for Gambrinus, which while not a perfect award, IMO does a better job of showing quality of a club's brewers. After working for years to get club members to brew/enter NHC again, I'd have been way more proud of that than any individual awards. Oh well - maybe next year.
arrived in Michigan on Monday. Had some mousy cider. Bought a bottle on reputation without trying it that now I find out is full of rodent too. Clean it up Greg...
Tuesday I went to Siciliano's to beat the rush, spent a ton of time at Founders, and went to the Brewery Vivant beer dinner - nothing but great things to say about any of those places, as usual. Wish I could have taken the cider exam but dinner was calling.
Wednesday mead exam, bacon and beer brunch, and BJCP reception. Schramm's Black Agnes and Gary Awdey's cider presentation were highlights. Conference registration was a breeze.
Thursday judging. Sending the form ahead of time was a good idea. Sending it Wednesday when I couldn't print it out (I'm like the last guy without a smart phone) was not. Poor communication on the necessity of the line, and other things already mentioned and not worth rehashing.
Judged Light Lagers. All solid to very good beers, with a few of the usual 1C/1D efforts masquerading as 1A/1B. I was pleased there were 4 teams judging the Finals categories this year; too many Final Round entries for 3 teams.
Martin, we'd love it if you would speed it up...
Judged Trad meads in the afternoon. Learning experience, but I did push the silver medal. Great take on Sage Blossom. Someone gave me a sample of the gold medal Perry; at that point I knew there was a spare bottle of my cider, so I retrieved it and gave it to Gary Awdey to rip apart at his leisure. Ya can't miss an opportunity to get feedback from someone like that.
I agree that people were a bit ridiculous with the Opening Toast snacks piled high, but really, what did you think would happen? A few thousand hungry overweight guys in one room with a bunch of decent beer?
As others stated, vertical signage is a must. Too hard to find beers, and the layout made little sense. Crowded too, but at least there were tables to rest at. As bad as the sound was, I didn't come out of there with a noise-induced headache like after Pro Night in Philly, at least...
Overall, I didn't mind the change, but Pro Night was often my favorite event from a quality and I-haven't-had-it-before standpoint, and this was not the same.
Too tired for ballpark; went out to dinner w/o beer as I did most nights. I was pleased with the restaurants in the area in terms of selection, quality, and price.
Really enjoyed the cider seminars on Friday. I know San Diego isn't the cider center that Michigan is, but I still hope we get a decent number of these next year too. The cider tap takeover was great although I know several people who missed it as they were told it started at 3. Not sure who was giving out the misinformation.
Helped KCBM pour on Friday, though I only poured like 4 beers and mostly just hung out and served a few bottles of my stuff. I'd like to think I didn't get in the way that much. Thanks for the shirt AmandaK! Charlie stopped by the booth; Amanda does Crane know Prez Papazian has had his beet beer? Can't believe I missed the opportunity to pour something of my own for him!
Let's get the ice to the clubs sooner though, eh? Next time the conference center will know that we need a lot...
The Saturday morning sour beer, new hops, and understanding honey seminars were really really fantastic. Appreciated the mead tap takeover in the social club; I want to see more of this kind of thing.
Missed the BJCP guidelines presentation to get more sour mead; looking forward to seeing the changes.
Wow, long line for the banquet. I'd like to thank High Gravity for letting a few of us Wichita people sit at their sponsor table again or we'd have been in the back row.
tschmidlin sat with us too and used profanity to describe the cider I poured for him...in a good way.
was prepared to be underwhelmed by the food, but it was great. really great. Thanks to forum member braufessor who gave me the bottle of Raspberry Berliner weisse that I shared with the table. Great stuff!
Sound was bad, but I was close enough to read the names at least. And also, no matter how you feel about TBN winning COTY, I have to thank them for letting my family have a chance to see me walk across the stage.
as others have asked, where were the leftover competition bottles? rooting through them is one of my favorite things!
met some of the wedding party in the Amway on Sat. night. guys who were REALLY tired of champagne and wish they'd skipped out. I hope at least one of us drunks got into the background of the wedding photos, hehehe...
Overall I met a ton of you guys. Only a couple I regret.
I'll save specifics about the competition for another thread later this summer.
see you in cloudy San Diego!