“The king is dead, long live the king!”
Now that i’ve had a few weeks to digest the announcement at the conclusion of this years European Beer Bloggers Conference in Amsterdam, that it was to be the last instalment of EBBC as it had become affectionately known. It is to be replaced by a new conference from March 2017, in Sheffield, UK, called Beer Now. I am going to offer some of my own thoughts.
Having come to the EBBC Alumni later than some, attending my first when it was hosted in Dublin, in 2014, we were very excited by the event in Brussels last year, and then this year in Amsterdam. Other host cities have been Leeds, Edinburgh and London. I was beginning to enjoy the camaraderie and experiences of visiting other beer cultures with guided local expertise.
Now, to be fair to Zephyr, the Euro conferences were always on the lower end of the scale attendance wise, this year was no different. However I do think there was a number of factors that triggered lower attendance this year, namely a delay in announcing a venue, and a change of the date from the traditional August UK Bank Holiday weekend.
Zephyr themselves have posted a very rational explanation behind the decision which you can read here . In fact attendance numbers have been static, while our US colleagues event has grown year on year.
There is however a concern for me, in that by allying to SIBA, we will be missing out on some of the diversification that we’ve been lucky to experience while going around Europe. The 2017 event will be tied to SIBA X which is a festival of promoting the best of the Independent brewing scene in the UK, but I wonder will there be any international flavour to this?
Travelling to Sheffield for the 2017 conference, is not a problem for us, but it might be for our continental alumni, and while we know it’s in Sheffield next year, SIBA X could move, to London if the size of the event continues to grow for example, but will it be enough to get people from the mainland over? It was indicated in the announcement that it was going to be an ongoing link to SIBA X, I guess we will just have to see how this plays out.
I see that part of the strategy is to involve more Beer marketing types, tourism boards etc, and not just the writers. This could be quite interesting if it leads to some meaningful collaborations and opportunities for the writers who are there. I do fear unless those beer marketing types are coming from a wide range of countries, and regions, that there will be an unintended bias toward those who are based in the UK.
While there will probably be a few segments in the first two days agenda i’d be really interested in, the main beer writing portion has been allocated the Sunday morning slot, for 3 or so hours. Which seems like a bad time to me, particularly the morning after the night before. Although I’m glad to see that they’ve kept the Live Beer Blogging segment which as always is a lot of fun.
As with many things, I’m going to go, and try it on for size and see if it works for me. I’m not one to dismiss things out of hand. I hope that my concerns turn out to be unfounded, and that the conference is a success, both for the organisers, and the attendees.