First Timer’s Thoughts on NHC 2014

Want to hear my thoughts on our first trip to the 2014 National Homebrewers Conference?  Keep reading.
We always do a long weekend trip somewhere each summer that is typically within driving distance from our home on the northeast side of Indianapolis.  I’m always looking for ways to incorporate beer into that trip.  I somehow tricked my wife into coming with me by telling her it would be our weekend getaway for the summer.  One of the things that did help get her excited was reading letter to the editor from the wife of a homebrewer in the November/December 2013 Issue of Zymurgy that talked about how it was cool when women attend NHC.

This was my first realistic chance to attend NHC, since I’ve started brewing.  Although a bit pricey from the outside, I can say for a true beer geek, it is worth the cost of admission.  I’m just going to give a review of our trip from a newbie’s perspective and try to keep it as short as possible.

I’ll start with the evening events, then the seminars, the equipment and then some other highlights.

Difficulty: level_1

If you have made it this far, please continue.

Evening Events

Welcome Reception (formerly, Pro-Brewers Night)

010-Welcome Reception Beer List

Overall, we were disappointed in the welcome reception for two reasons.

One, those serving the beer were merely employees of the convention hall and couldn’t answer anything about the beers they were serving.  Perhaps there is a good reason for it, but it would have been nice if each beer served had representation from the brewery that made it.  At a minimum, it would have been helpful for each beer to have an explanation beyond just a name and type.

Two, honestly, I was a bit disappointed in the offerings.  Nothing really blew me away.

It was cool that almost all the breweries represented were from Michigan, but again, no representation.  And that’s all I’ve got to say about that!

Club Night


Ok, so as disappointed as we were in the welcome reception, we loved Club Night.  Almost everything I tried was spectacular or was at least something I had never before tasted.  Variations on mead, a Braggot, Kombucha and some other interesting twists.  We only made it to about a third of the booths, because we were having such a good time talking to the brewers, meeting new people and trying the beer.  Before we knew it, the lights were dimming and we all reluctantly (but politely) vacated the premises.

010-WHALES Menu

Some of my most memorable beers were from the W.H.A.L.E.S. Brew Club, where one brewer (last name Hansen) was showcasing some historic beers.  The one that blew me away the most was the 1839 XXX based on Ron Pattinson’s 1839 Barclay Perkins XXX.  I think brewing historic beers is going to me my next venture into beers I’ve never tasted before.


We also had a nice long conversation with a recently engaged couple from Kansas City.  They were from the Kansas City Bier Meisters.  The women (Amanda) was a like minded engineer and she had an excellent beer on tap called Face Melter (Imperial Dark Saison).  And yes it was!

Awards Banquet

I heard it was great, but being a dad is kind of a big deal to me, so we packed up the mini van and headed home so we could get back in time to see our kids again and be well rested for the Father’s Day activities the next day.

I’ll be breaking my thoughts into a few posts:

Part 1: Evening Events (This post)
Part 2: Seminars
Part 3: Homebrew Expo
Part 4: Other highlights and parting thoughts

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4 thoughts on “First Timer’s Thoughts on NHC 2014”

  1. Can tell you the reason for no brewers at the Reception was due to the way the venue looked at the serving laws in their area. So, sadly no brewers to pour, but I can say that we just had our breakdown of the conference and that was one of the topics discussed. No surprise that in the first go aroudn of it, it wasn’t perfect.

    1. Drew,
      Thanks for the response! I figured there was a good reason. I know you guys are continuously trying to improve things, so good luck with next year.
      As a side note, I just listened to the Maltose Falcon’s Beersmith podcast. Good stuff.

  2. It’s a bit late to mention, but the WHALES were actually squatting in our booth.
    The PALEALES made room for them and The Jersey City Homebrew Club, their signage made it a bit confusing. At the time, Ryan(Hansen) was strictly a PALEALES member, but since has also joined the WHALES. His stuff is great. Have you made any of those historical brews?

    1. Unfortunately, I have not yet made any of the historical brews. I had a barleywine recipe I made during the brew session that I had earmarked for a historical brew. I definitely still have it on my list though. Glad to hear from you James!

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