Friday, May 15, 2015
NHC Conference Guide, 2015 San Diego
After 4 years, the American Homebrewers Association's National Conference is back in San Diego this June. Along with being my hometown, San Diego is a top craftbeer city, created by its homebrewing roots. Why else do you think the AHA sent the conference back to San Diego only after 4 years?
The AHA has their own guide, which you should read if it's your first time, but you should also check out my guide below for the conference. Which might be a little more focused than the AHA's. (You can also read my Philly 2013 NHC recap if your interested.)
First things first, San Diego is a car city. If you want to hit the local craft spots, you need a car and a DD or a Taxi/Uber. The San Diego Trolley does work, only if the spot you're looking for is along its route. Which, most of the time, it isn't. If you do rent a car, the Town and Country Hotel has a great parking lot, which does happen to be next to the Trolley station at Fashion Valley Mall. Which sadly is the only outside food within walking distance (more on that later).
Once you're at the hotel, you need to grab the welcome bag, which will include the conference beer(s) and some swag. Plus a name badge and glass cup. The badge and cup are the most important thing of the weekend. You can not do anything without these 2 items. This is the only drinking cup you have for beers, remember that. Your badge gets you into the different area's. Don't be a dick and try and attend the seminars with a social pass. If you do, that's a dick move.
Once you're settled in, (if you haven't yet) you need to look at the conference schedule, including which speakers you want to see and which you need to see. This is different. Some topics, you have to attend since it interests you. Other topics you might not be as interested in, but should attend. This could be for the beers being served or person speaking might interest you. So first check out the Speak Profile page on the AHA site. Then check out and download my handy handy spreadsheet which is edittable once you save it off my Google Doc link. It lists the presentations by Ball Room and which ones of them repeat and when. (Most of the Thursday seminars repeat) Or you can download the PDF for each day below
Eating/Getting around at the Town and Country Hotel. This is a large hotel in the center of Mission Valley. Located next to Fashion Valley Mall. Food is hard to get at the hotel, but they do have some offerings. I tend to stay away from all hotel food, so I have some predisposed ideas on them. At the mall they have the normal "mall food" if that works for you, great. If you are looking for better food at any level above that you might have some challenges ahead of you. (In 2011 the AHA tried to get some food trucks right as you go to fashion valley, which never really worked out correctly. They haven't said if they are going to organize that again.) If you have a car, you have a pretty large assortment of choices within a couple minutes drive from the hotel. Personally, I'm going to hit up a Mexican Spot early and grab a burrito for breakfast and maybe stash one for later. Then no driving the rest of the day. I really want to stress the idea of "camping out" food wise in your room. Stock up at the store and have food readily available. Eating and drinking (water) properly could be the difference from passing out early and hitting the after parties.
Expo/During the day (outside of seminars.) The expo is a great place to enjoy a homebrew while talking to a vendor. In the past they had clubs serving beer inside the Expo as an "all in one room", since the homebrew pavilion will be outside, I don't know how that will work this year. Or if they will have both. But having the clubs serving next to the vendors was a nice touch. The seminars get pretty busy, so its nice to walk around the Expo when its not as crowded. Maybe during a time you're not interested in attending a talk?
Night time events/Club Night. NEVER MISS these events, they are some of the best times at the Nationals. This is what NHC is all about. Watching the clubs get dressed up and seeing the awesome booths is a great way to spend the night drinking away. Now some of you that have wives that are attending, (outside the NHC conference) first, "I'm sorry" next, don't plan dinner during these events. They can't be missed. The argument with the wife is worth it. Skip out on the last round of seminars before missing Club Night.
For information San Diego local craft beer, check out WestCoasterSD.com They are a sold resource on the area. They include brewery maps, bottle shop locations and more in each printed addition. You can also download each one on the site. One thing I'd like to add, the good bottle shops will sell out of anything "Special" in the 1st couple days. So if you want some goodies to take home, buy them early or hit up the second string bottle shops. Since this site is about homebrewing, I really won't get into that. But I know most homebrewers love a solid pint while on a trip.
Bottom line, this will be a great NHC. This post isn't might to have every detail about San Diego and the NHC, but I attempted to cover the basic points you need to enjoy yourself. Any more questions about San Diego that I didn't cover, feel free to ask in the comments, email or twitter.
Also during the conference, tweet me @ lewybrewing I'd love to share a pint or two during the conference.
The AHA announced today that they have an app for this years conference.