Thursday, August 25, 2011

BBC11 - Blogging Lessons Learned and Shared

Firkin Around...Portland, Oregon.

August 21st - Portland

made a promise this year to practice some "lessons learned" from BBC10. Much of the time last November was spent switching between a laptop PC, a camera, a notepad, my backpack and least reliably of all, my memory. I decided this year to rightsize my arsenal of equipment and try to keep it simple. The hallmark of these lessons was boiled down to its essence and became my simple mantra for BBC11...
"Travel lightly. Enjoy greatly. Live in the moment, always"
With this rule set in mind, I deliberately left a few things out of my luggage when packing for the trip. Most notable were a camera and a notebook. Many bloggers and journalists would call this heresy. This would seem to fly in the face of convention since the exclusive purpose of attending a blogging conference is to take photos and notes. Still, I wanted an unencumbered and engaging experience.

Man in motion - capturing the moment
(Photo by Gerard Walen,
So I had to have a good plan, and the plan was this: Challenge myself to utilize my smartphone to the extremes of its capabilities. After all, it is a veritable Swiss Army Knife ® of electronics. Some might say that would be a difficult challenge. After much  deliberation, I decided it would be worth the calculated risk to travel and blog a bit more unfettered.

What did I learn from this experience? Plenty. Here is a list of things accomplished with my iPhone 4 during my four day trip to Portland, OR from my home in Tampa, FL.

Added Portland, OR to the Apple Weather app a week before travelling to prepare suitable clothing.

Kept in touch with family via text messages every step of the way throughout my travel.

    Checked in at plenty of venues using FourSquare, which also added to my location whereabouts.

      Sent direct messages via twitter and Echofon to seek out where my group was upon arrival in Portland. Also used them to tweet out and read juicy tidbits by following the #BBC11 hash tag.

      Scanned business cards of colleagues using ScanBizCards app.

        Kept notes of conference highlights in Evernote to use later while blogging from my traditional PC.

          Updated FaceBook with posts and photos of all the happenings from our various venues.

            Took all photos and videos with the built in Apple camera app and shared viewing of them with the Apple Photo app.

              Edited photos for blogging using the app, Camera+.

                Used the Alarm app to wake up each morning and make reservation reminders.

                  Checked in to SouthWest Airlines using their app, to secure my boarding pass (while standing in line for lunch!)

                    I kept myself entertained with music, movies and games during lulls in travel.

                      I updated my beer brethren with Untappd.

                        Performing numerous searches of the internet using Safari was a breeze.

                          I could locate step-by-step directions to nearby destinations utilizing the Maps app.

                            Using the Calendar app helped to schedule all the event itinerary.

                              The Dragon Dictation app came in very handy for inserting notes by speaking rather than writing.

                                I shared contact information using the Bump app.

                                  Other bloggers QR code info was scanned using the i-nigma barcode scanning app.

                                    I was able to use the BJCP Styles guide as a reference many times.

                                      Locating an ATM was a snap using ATM Hunter just in case extra cash was needed.

                                        The iTorch4 flashlight feature was helpful, instead of fumbling for the hotel room light switch.

                                          And finally, I kept track of all the above using the built in Notes app.

                                            All this was accomplished by one handy electronic gadget roughly the size of a deck of playing cards. Speaking of cards, my protective iPhone case has a slot in the back that will hold about a dozen of my business cards. Is there anything this device can't do?

                                            On the eve of Steve Jobs departure from Apple, this post is most poignant. All he ever wanted to do was make smart machines to enable people in their daily lives. A great and noble effort from a man who saw the company struggle in the beginning, but now leaves at its pinnacle. Apple is one of the largest and innovative companies the world has known. All in all, I did end up travelling lighter and enjoying more during the conference. And indeed, I truly lived in the moment, knowing that with this device, I was able to pull off the near impossible as a traveler, writer and photographer.

                                            Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention, it's a phone, too! That was the least of the iPhone4 features leveraged during the trip. How's that for iRony?

                                            Choose your weapons

                                            Firkin Futuristic Phone!

                                            Saturday, August 20, 2011

                                            BBC11 - Bridgeport Brewery

                                            Firkin Around...Silverton, Oregon.

                                            August 19th Bridgeport BrewPub - Portland, OR

                                            Upstairs pub in the Heritage Room
                                            Tonight's trip is to "Beervana"; in other words, the Bridgeport BrewPub, located in Portland. Bridgeport is one of the early pioneers of craft brewing in the state of Oregon. Their brewery is setup in an old three-story tall, former rope factory (the historic Portland Cordage Company). The building dates back to the late part of the nineteenth century. Hand troweled brick along with hewn wooden beams are left exposed in the interior dining sections, creating an industrial yet inviting vibe.

                                            Building leased April 11, 1984
                                            Everything about the building was on a large scale. Across from a catwalk on the second story, there is an enormous clock hanging above the bar below. It is frozen in time at 04:11 and has the Roman numerals MCMLXXXIV, indicating the year 1984. I will go out on a limb to say the clock's time may indicate April 11th as the date of incorporation. This is based upon an article found on that mentions an April incorporation date from 1984.

                                            Also on the large side are the urinals in the men's room, which were described by some as everything from "open sarcophagi" to "vertical bathtubs." (Sorry ladies of #BBC11, you certainly missed that visual.) I've no pictures to show, but rest assured that these are definitely designed for a man-sized wee. And a good thing too, considering we were in a brewpub among some pretty great beer.

                                            Speaking of beer - - - liquid libations were sampled at the large upstairs bar, where an array of Bridgeport's best selling brews were dispensed by the sample or by the pint. Bridgeport's IPA, Kingpin, Blue Heron, Porter, Hop Czar and Summer Squeeze are just a few to mention here.

                                            Continuing on to the buffet dinner, there was plenty of tasty gourmet food to fill your plate. Mine consisted of fresh fish with pesto, a beef loin medallion, dark green garden salad, roasted potatoes, zuchinni and corn-on-the-cob, Rotini pasta salad and a thick slice of crusted bread. With some water and a beer, the course rounded out nicely. Simply as delicious as it looks.

                                            Just as dinner wound down, we spied some "Beeramisu" a takeoff on an Italian dessert favorite, Tiramisu. The kitchen staff have their own recipe which includes Bridgeport's porter, chocolate shavings and espresso cake. Mmmmm, good!

                                            Firkin Around

                                            More photos here

                                            Firkin Around the Bridgeport BrewPub !

                                            Bridgeport BrewPub and Brewery
                                            1313 NW Marshall
                                            Portland, OR  97209

                                            Bridgeport Brewpub & Bakery on Urbanspoon

                                            Friday, August 19, 2011

                                            BBC11 - Goschie Hop Farms

                                            Firkin Around...Silverton, Oregon.

                                            August 19th Goschie Farm - Silverton, OR

                                            Celebrating 'rush hour'
                                            The highlight of this evening was a trip to the hop fields of Goschie Farms located in Silverton, OR. It was about a one hour ride to the farm, just down the interstate, but Friday night rush hour was fast upon us. The trip took nearly two hours as the two motor coaches slogged along in stop-and-go traffic. Ah, but rush hour was never this nice; we had a secret weapon up our sleeve. The capable bus drivers acted as our designated drivers, so we sat back and enjoyed some fine craft beer that brewery reps had brought along. Cups were passed out, and the reps slowly worked their way, up and down the aisle pouring out libations to all. A two hour ride and all that beer could be a tricky thing for those with a weak constitution. However, as mentioned before, this was a long distance motor coach. It was equipped with a lav in the back.

                                            Arriving in farm country, we spotted field after field of hop bines right off the side of the road. Standing tall, the bines seemed to go on forever toward the horizon. Thinking we were at our destination, it became apparent we were not, as this view went on for some time. It wasn't to our annoyance. Quite the contrary, we marveled at the vastness of the hop fields.When the two buses finally pulled into the drive, we all popped out and were instantly blown away by the pungent aroma of hops in the air. "Tettnang!", someone shouted. The whir of machinery in a large barn-sized shed lay fifty feet ahead. One by one, jaws dropped, eyes widened and speech hushed in reverent tones masked by the hum of mechanical conveyances. The machines were hoisting the hop bines in the air and then depositing them into threshers that would ultimately separate the hop cones from the leaves, stems and bine stalks. It was like some kind of Rube Goldberg contraption.

                                            From the threshing room floor, we moved cautiously in and around the equipment. Conveyor belts of leaves on one side and a river of hop cones on the other, all flowing toward the back of the building. We climbed a stairway and watched as the hop cone river followed us along. Up to the drying room we went, where moisture was wicked out of the cones by a large dryer that passed gentle heat from below. Arriving at the top we saw a gigantic bed of cones drying and slowly moving toward the other end of the building.
                                            The hops aromas were more concentrated by now, tickling our noses with great delight. Off to the other side of the drying room we saw a pile of hops that had completed the drying process. They were piled in a heap just below our view. Descending the next staircase took us to an enormous part of the building that had an equally ginormous pile - - - make that, a mountain of hops! My new blogging friend Danica mentioned that she would like to make a "snow angel" in the hop pile. How awesome would that be?!?
                                            Shall we make a "hops angel"?

                                            18' hop bines at Goschie
                                            Once again voices hushed. It was either the sheer size of the room or the sheer reverence of the moment, but we slack jawed onlookers just marveled at the quantity of hops. After this building, we were treated to a walk in the hop fields to see the bines being harvested. We also got to check out a section that contained experimental cross pollination of several hop varieties. The rows were taller than expected (up to 18 feet in height), as we got to see them close up. And the rows...well they stretched on for hundreds of yards.

                                            We bloggers were all amazed at the hard work of the farm staff. You can't help but  notice the  excellence and pride on this 100+ year old farm. A huge thank you to Gayle, Glenn and Gordon Goschie, who opened their farm to us. It was amazing to see the 250 acres of hops on their 1000 acre farm. It was especially interesting to be there during harvest time. To actually see the process of harvesting the bines, all the way through to packaging the hop cones into 200 pound bales was an experience not soon to be forgotten.

                                            Great German food
                                            Goschie's idyllic surroundings

                                            Just as you'd think it couldn't get any better, the tour wrapped up with a picnic style outing on the farm grounds. Food was presented from The Glockenspiel Restaurant Pub. Delicious Bratwurst on rye rolls, mustard, curry ketchup, corn-on-the-cob, Tempeh, Choucroute and German potato salad were on the fare. Dessert consisted of brownies infused with hops, topped off with frosting that was sprinkled with more hops. Tasty beer food, indeed! Kegged and bottled beer abounded among the ancient tall trees that acted as our canopy of shade. The only thing missing were lute playing minstrels singing, "Hey nonny, nonny...", but I digress. I pulled up a folding chair and savored the food and grog, taking in all the idyllic surroundings.

                                            I recall thinking to myself, "Do not forget this. Live in this moment."

                                            Firkin Around

                                            More photos here

                                            Hops, fresh from the bine

                                            Firkin Fields of Hops !

                                            Goschie Farms
                                            7365 Meridian Road NE
                                            Silverton, OR 97381



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                                            BBC11 - Pub Crawl (Portland, OR)

                                            Firkin Around...Portland, Oregon.

                                            August 18th Pub Crawl - Portland

                                            Deschutes Brewery & Public House - 210 Northwest 11th Avenue
                                            Strap-hanging on MAX Light Rail
                                            First place I hit after dropping my luggage at the hotel was the Deschutes Brewery & Public House where I met up with the army of bloggers. They were already over two hours into the crawl by the time the hotel shuttle dropped me off. Tonight, Deschutes was featuring a block party, complete with local live bands, jamming in the alley between the buildings and playing to a well oiled throng. There, I picked up my VIP pass and got in on some sampling of the food and beer available. Using the wooden nickel system, I purchased a hefeweizen that was infused with lemonade, paired up with spicy grilled shrimp on a tangy coleslaw. After that, we all quickly jumped aboard the MAX light rail system to our next destination.

                                            The Lucky Labrador Beer Hall - 1945 NW Quimby
                                            The Lucky Labrador Beer Hall has been in existence in Portland for 16 years.  The Beer Hall at 1945 NW Quimby was refurbished about 5 years ago and was originally home to truck builder, Freightliner. The place is a rustic wooden and brick building that looks rugged enough to have built trucks, or make beer. Large overhead roll-up doors make for easy ingress/egress to the brew pub. The no nonsense wooden plank tables were meant to serve large groups of hungry and thirsty travelers. Along with an incredible selection of beer, there are some hardy staples such as pizza and sandwiches to feed the masses.

                                            Large tables for easy times
                                            I was happy to see that along with standard pints, you could also select from a 1/2 pint or a flight. It's good for us beer blogger reviewers, so that we may sample from all their wares. I started with "Dog Day", a 6% ABV India Pale ale and then moved on to a "Super Dog" at 6.5% and also an India Pale Ale. Both were good, but I preferred Super Dog.

                                            The Chalboard of Beer
                                            The brew master was introduced to our group. He proceeded to take a bunch of the bloggers along to show off the brewing area. I stayed behind and opted to lounge with other fellow bloggers. I was exhausted from an 11 hour day of travel through four airports and two time zine changes. I ordered a slice of pizza to sop up the beer.

                                            New Old Lompoc - 1616 NW 23rd Avenue
                                            The Old New Lompoc
                                            The New Old Lompoc, was next on our parade. Walking up to the joint, it looked like any other old timey bar that you might pass by. Glad we don't judge a book by its cover, because the interior had some great charm. A rustic old bar front and tap room as you pass through the portals, greets you with a sense for the nostalgic.

                                            Passing further through the back, through the kitchen, all the way back, a biergarten emerges with an indoor outdoor charm to rustic and quaint to be believed. Once again, the theme of long plank tables invite the traveler to sit and quench their thirst, and maybe work one up conversing with the crowd. It made the time and conversation great as we made our way back and forth to the bar for some of their home grown offerings.
                                            Out in the Biergarten

                                            There was so much beery goodness packed into that small establishment! As we passed between the main part of the bar and into the biergarten, there was a window into the brewing works for us to see. Such a small room that such big beer comes from. I suggest the Kick Axe Pale Ale.

                                            Though the hour was late, this party was just getting started. We exited the Lompoc to a waiting school bus that whisked some of us back the hotel and others continued to party on into the night. What a great first night. I hit the sack with a smile and wondered what tomorrow will bring.

                                            As I sit in the lobby of the Doubletree, I can already see the wheels in motion for today's first full day of conference. Beer is being whisked around on push carts as some of the bleary eyed bloggers stumble out of the lobby elevator and make a bee line to the coffee bar...these people are troopers. I only did half of what some of them accomplished last night. Here's to a new day.

                                            Firkin Cool Pub Crawl !