Saturday, 28 June 2014

Grand Rapids day two

I've a busy day ahead. I jump in the shower and hurry down to my breakfast meeting.

I find Paul and Jamie already there. Paul is getting stuck into some oatmeal. I've gone for the healthy fried option: eggs, bacon, those potato things. It's only when I'm on holiday, is my excuse. True enough, too.

Paul is my co-presentor. We've still a little work to do nailing together our slides. Once breakfast is done, we head up to Paul and Jamie's room for the final editing. There's no rush. We've several hours before we're presenting. It doesn't take long to get everything sorted out. What to do now? Registering at the conference seems the obvious choice.

The conference is just a short stroll down the river from my hotel. The river is very swift. Wouldn't fancy dropping in there. Probably never come out again. It's called the River Grand. I think it may have something to do with the name of the city.

At the convention centre, I get my pass. It has a special bit stuck on the bottom saying "Speaker". As long as it gets me free beer I don't care what it ways. I pick up a bag full of stuff, some of it useful. Like a programme and a glass.Some of it - stickers and assorted bits of paper kack - not so handy.

Wyeast have a little stand giving away beer. It seems silly not to have any. Gives me something to do with that glass. I arrange to meet Jamie and Paul back by the registration desk at 14:30. We're due on at 15:15.

Inside the hall, first thing I do is check out the book stall. Yep, they've got my book there. Even have a little shelf talker on it. Hope they manage to shift a few.

I wander around, pausing to look at particularly tempting shiny things. The miniature stainless steel breweries are a sight to behold. I find myself working out excatly where I could shoe-horn one into my flat. If only I could persuade Andrew to move out. His bedroom would make a perfect little brewery.

I manage to snap out of my brewing daydreams and get myself some beer. I didn't know what to expect on the beer front. Lots of homebrew had been my guess. But that isn't what it's like. Most is from commercial breweries, either sponsors of the event or beer bought by one of the sponsors. I'm not complaining. There's a whole array of Lagunitas stuff.

Which is an opportunity I can't miss, as the servers are from the brewery. It's a question that's been nagging me for a while. How do you pronounce Lagunitas? I ask the friendly chav with a beard behind the bar. I can't have been the first to ask. It's written on one of their labels. La-gu-NEE-tas. There's one mystery cleared up. Any theories of the meaning of life while we're at it? Thought not. Worth a try, though.

Various people talk to me as I trundle around the hall. Some seem to know who I am. I do, that's something I'm very strict about in my head, remembering who I am. Makes life so much simpler. Not really used to anyone else knowing, other than those people who hang around in my house. Family, I think you call them.

There is some homebrew to be had, in a special section at the back. I wander down there to try some out. I can discern no appreciable difference in quality between the professional and amateur brews. Not that I had expected to. I've had plenty of experience with American homebrew. Almost all of it good.

Our talk is in Grand Gallery A-D. One of the smaller spaces. Or should I say less huge spaces, because it isn't exactly small. It's slightly oddly arranged, with screens showing the slides either side of the stage where me and Paul are.

There's a reasonable crowd when we kick off. Especially considering we're not in the programme. Another speaker cancelled and we agreed to give our talk twice. Our real slot is tomorrow morning.

It goes pretty well. I get several laughs, which is always a good sign. Jamie's idea of holding up signs with the remaining time was excellent. I manage to finish just about exactly on time so there is time for questions. Oh well, job half done.

We hang around for the reception. Where we have a few beers and a bit of nosh before walking back to the hotel.

There's an event out at the ball park but we aren't going. Too much trouble and a bit expensive. Instead we head for a brewpub, Grand Rapids Brewing, not far from our hotel.

It's pretty busy and we have to wait for a seat. We have food, beer and not too late a night. We're on at 9 am tomorrow. Can't afford to stay out too late.

These plugs are getting ever feebler. Maybe I should start begging . . . please buy my book . . . . please . . . . I'll stop beating the kids if you do . . . .

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Grand Rapids Brewing Co.
1 Ionia Ave SW,
Grand Rapids,
MI 49503.
Tel: 616 458 7000

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