Last week I attended the 3rd Beer Bloggers Conference in Indianapolis. The camaraderie and shared experiences continue to be ones that I will treasure and relive through every craft ale or lager I taste. Though I have attended the two previous conferences only as a craft beer advocate, this year I also participated as a passionate employee of Artisanal Cheese.
My tenure with Artisanal thus far has shown me some surprising parallels between craft beer and the local cheese movement here in the United States. While artisan cheesemakers are not fighting for market share as craft brewers do with gargantuan operations like A-B/InBev, the small producers are in battle of finances, awareness and distribution. The labor of love that farmers, dairies and artisans have for their art truly shines in the ever more delicious product cheese-lovers taste everyday just as it does for the craft brewers.
During the past few years, I have witnessed the ongoing evolution and deepening of the relationship between the craft beer industry and the bloggers that support it. By utilizing the audiences and channels of bloggers, the smaller craft breweries are tapping into not only the interests of people already highly involved with the segment, but introducing new people to an alternative to mass-produced and adjunct-filled American lager.
To the same end as the craft beer bloggers, Artisanal is stepping up to become THE central rallying point of the American artisan cheese movement to support the “craft” cheese producers. By working collectively with the entire local cheese industry, we can further boost the awareness, promotion and access to great products.
I love being able to locally taste some of the incredible craft beer from across the US, though I do love travelling to meet my fellow bloggers to enjoy them. A favorite annual conference event is “The Night of Many Bottles”. Picture a banquet room with tables lining three walls filled with bins of ice with incredible (and in some cases) very rare craft beer from all over the US. Now imagine yourself sampling these tasty brews with fellow craft beer advocates as well as industry professionals. In addition to being led by fellow “citizen” or non-industry bloggers, I also had the pleasure of tasting beer from representatives of RAM Brewery & Restaurant, Green Flash, Florida Beer Company, Flying Dog and beer guru and author Randy Mosher’s new endeavor, 5 Rabbit Brewery. The discussion of the nose, taste, mouthfeel and the crafting of these beers creates an energy that must be experienced to be believed.
Now think of a similar setup, but with 150 different American artisan cheeses. That scene became Artisanal’s Media Day on June 27th, where we replicated the energy of “The Night of Many Bottles”, though on a much smaller scale. I hope in the future that I will be able to participate in a “Night of Many Cheeses” on a similar perspective, and I anticipate that Artisanal will be at the heart of it. I would love if everyone could do the same with artisan cheese in their personal spaces. Just think of all the pairing parties, gatherings and events that could be enjoyed in the company of friends and family!
As I always say, “Life’s a tap…drink up ‘til it’s dry.”