So... what exactly is NHC? If you've ever been to a technical conference, you know the general format of these things. There are swag, presentations, vendors and the occasional party. What might make NHC unique is that there is beer (lots and lots of beer) at every part.
Gift beers given to conference attendees.
Swag usually consists of trinkets like pens and notebooks. At NHC you get (you guessed it) beer. (To be fair, you still get the other semi-worthless trinkets too.) This year we got two beers. Amusingly, the one that was canned was prone to exploding.
During the day, technical sessions are held covering all manner of subjects. Here were a couple of my favorites.
Gluten Free Brewing
Robert Hanson of Breiss gave an inspirational talk on gluten-free brewing.
Alternative Wood Aging Techniques
John Gasparine (who consulted with Dogfishhead for Palo Santo Marron) gave a talk called Alternative Wood Aging Techniques.
Open Source Control Systems and FastRack show off their products in the exhibition hall.
Something else all conferences have in common is vendors. The Homebrew Expo, as it was called, hosted vendors for attendees to visit in between talks. The great thing about this is that homebrew clubs are pouring their beers somewhat constantly in this area.
What conference would be complete without a party or two? At NHC, this means Club Night, Pro Night and the Grand Banquet.
Pro night showcases local (and some not-so-local) professional breweries.
Dogfishead's Sam Calagione with a fan.
The lengthy line for Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Horizontal of 50/50's Eclipse.
It has been a tradition with my group of NHC travelers to have a horizontal of 50/50's Eclipse. You probably know what a vertical is (same beer, different vintages). A horizontal, in this case, is the same beer, same vintage aged in different barrels. It is truly a special event... though my pallet was a bit fried at this point and I cannot say which was my favorite.
My own club, The Worts of Wisdom, pouring at club night.
Club night is where homebrew clubs showcase their beers along with their sense of style. Booths are decorated around a theme and the beer flows all night long.
Sitting down for the Grand Banquet
The grand banquet is the finale of NHC. The Homebrew Chef prepared a meal for 2200 and the results of the National Homebrew Competition were announced. This year's Homebrewer of the Year was a woman from Sacramento, CA named Annie Johnson.
By the Numbers
|Vendors at the Homebrew Expo||65|
|Representatives at Pro Brewer's Night||43|
|Number of clubs at Club Night||84|
|Estimated number of kegs at Club Night||900|
|Number of pounds I gained||4|
Conference-goers enjoying a beer.