My breakfast date is earlier today, 7:45. We need to be at the convention centre by 8:30.
I stick to convention and have bacon, egg and those potato things. With toast coffee and orange juice, of course. Sugar, caffeine and fat: all the major food groups. Paul unwisely sticks to oatmeal. Very unhealthy.
This time we're in a larger hall, ballroom D. It's not quite as weirdly arranged as testerday, meaning I can actually see the slides on the screen. The crowd is bigger, but more subdued. It's being filmed, which has its up and down sides. Good that there will be a recording, shame it wasn't done yesterday when both me and the crowd were livelier.
Annoyingly, Stan Hieronymous was scheduled at the same time. Which means I've missed his talk. Bit of a bummer, that. A price you have to pay for being a participant rather than a punter.
I do a bit more wandering around the hall and get accosted several times while I'm on my eternal search for beer. I guess people know what I look like now. It's quite pleasant getting to chat for a few minutes with various people. I'm a sociable chap at heart.
I've a book signing scheduled at the, er, book stall. Stan is on before me and has a huge queue waiting for him. Mine is rather more modest. Queue, I mean. Impressive when you think Stan has already been at it for over an hour. I'm surprised when I'm handed examples of my self-published books to sign. I guess a few must have escaped over the Atlantic.
I make sure to get myself a big beer before I start. Someone has given me the glass from the ball park do last night. It's at least double the size of the conference glass. Using it is a pretty obvious choice.
I'm the last author scheduled for the morning signing sessions. So no-one on immediately after me. I hang around for a while after my allotted time for any stragglers, a few of which do show up.
The afternoon sees the seminar I most want to attend: John Mallett (of Bell's) and Andrea Stanley (of Valley Malt) talking about making blown malt. Couldn't be more perfect for me. I'm dead jealous when I see that they're both in costume. I should do that myself.
The talk is as informative as I had hoped. And I get to chew some malt and drink beer brewed with it. Hard to think of a better use of an hour. I get chatting to John and Andrea when they've finished talking. They ask me out for dinner. Cool.
But before that I've a second seminar to attend. Jason Oliver (of Devil's Backbone) is giving a talk on Lager brewing. He knows a thing or two about the topic, having won several awards for bottom-fermenting beers. I had the pleasure of brewing a Barclay Perkins Dark Lager with him a couple of years ago.
I'd like to chat with Jason but unfortunately don't have time.
Dinner is at Grove, a foodie sort of restaurant. We all get a three-course tasting menu. What can I say, other than that the food is knockout. They've a decent beer list, too. The conversation, which roams around various historical topics, malting technicques and barley varieties, is totally fascinating. I rarely get to have beer chats of this quality.
That's not the end of the evening. Back in the town centre we nip into Hop Cat for a beer or two. And who should be standing at the bar but Jason Oliver.Isn't that a happy coincidence. He's chatting with Neil Spake, a longtime blog reader of mine. It's the perfect finsh to a great day, as I get to talk Lager for a while.
Just one day of the conference to go. Unfortunately I'll miss the banquet. I'll be on my way to Chicago then.
How many different ways can I say "Buy my book, you bastard"? I think we're going to find out over the next few weeks. Aggression this time. Perhaps intimidation next. Let's see what works.
The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.
919 Cherry St SE,
Tel: 616 454 1000
25 Ionia Ave SW #100,
Tel: 616 451 4677
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