The venue is the rather impressive Convention Centre Dublin on the banks of the River Liffey. Last night we were given a red VIP wrist band and told we could go to the VIP reception on the 5th floor. 5 escalators later we found ourselves looking out across the river and the Dublin skyline, drinking Kentucky Bourbon Ale and networking with various beery type folk.
Later we were shown into the auditorium to listen to the live recording of a couple of Woodsong's radio shows. The first show was all Bluegrass, which to be honest isn't my thing, but the second show featured a couple of Irish singers, who I did enjoy.
An interesting start to a convention about beer. A live concert, or if you listen to the presenter, a musical conversation. Apparently there was around 2000 people in the concert. To the reader I'd have thought it might seem strange, and yet there are many reasons why this is far less strange than might be thought. For a start, whether you and like Bluegrass, it is indigenous in Kentucky. The argument goes that traditional Irish music and Bluegrass are linked. Traditional music, and it might not be everyone's cup off tea, but it's about people, and people having fun at that. Which is where beer comes in, because the best beer is about people.
Since arriving here I have met so many beery friends, both old and new. Events like this are partly about meeting people, networking, discussing and making things happen. And a key thing that I'm sure is important about craft beer is that it consists of clear co-operation, collaboration and friendship, even between potentially competing buisinesses.
So, the first Alltech International Brewing and Distilling Conference not only has a fantastic beer networking potential, but also brings a series of fantastic technical seminars. Together it packs a great deal into two days, so much so that I'm having a struggle to fit everything in, and already it has taken me more than 24 hours to write this post.
A bold move by Alltech to bring this conference to Dublin. They have invested a huge amount into this and clearly have underwritten this first event. I hope it gains enough momentum, although there were a total of 830 people attending the seminars on the first day, so clearly there is enough interest already.