Here’s what happened during the week the first time I traveled for business to a convention… in Las Vegas. Lil’ Jon said to me, “What up, homie,” let me take a sip from his pimp cup, and, on polite request, gave me a “Yeah!”. Before he started hanging out in North Korea, I got an autograph from Dennis Rodman for my grandma, who loved him when he played for the Pistons. Not the Bulls. Before Adam Levine got a tattoo sleeve and become a weird sex symbol, I watched Maroon 5 play a private party at the pool at Hard Rock — their stage was built on stilts in the water. The “main floor” was the pool. Boy George asked me if I wanted to go back to his hotel room, and do coke. I politely declined. Still shaking my head at that one. And, after stumbling into someplace I obviously wasn’t supposed to be, because security tapped me on the shoulder to let me know, I found myself rescued by and partying with Nicky Hilton poolside in her cabana at The Palms for the rest of the night, with her arm around me, posing for paparazzi. True story.
Every day that week had one thing in common: I was rocked with a hangover that lasted nearly until, and sometimes into, that night’s next round of ridiculous stunts. In hindsight, sadly, it all seemed acceptable and appropriate, especially for Vegas. What did I care? I made it to the expo hall floor every day, every seminar I signed up for, and every pre-arranged business meeting. But, I took advantage of the experience, drank way too much, and felt like sh!t the entire week.
Last week, I traveled again for business. Different convention, different city, much different mission. Yet, same potential for chaos and disaster shrouded in “fun” away from the obligations at home.
One of the beautiful things about nestling into your professional sweet spot is the blessing in being fortunate to explore your personal passions that complement your 9-to-5, which I’ve written about already. I freelance for MittenBrew, and under their credentials, was very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C. It’s the industry’s largest annual event. I’m talking nearly 14,000 attendees of exclusively beer professionals, circulating throughout two expo floors stacked with 900 vendors.
Trust me when I say that there was no shortage of amazing beer during the day (read: $Free.99) or sponsored parties with open bars at night. I respected the Conference’s sample policy: 2 oz. pours anytime you were served a beer. Rarely did any bartender break protocol. Could I have stood in line over and over again, accumulating 2 oz. pours into as many ounces as I wanted? Yep. Did I? Nope. Eh… Well… Wait. Okay, I’ll confess. I did get back in line one time for a second pour of Lawson’s Finest Liquids’ Sip of Sunshine — an IPA that’s been on my bucket list. 4 oz., then I moved on.
We sent Jeff Rogers, Brewery Operations Manager at Harmony Brewing Company, and MittenBrew “beertern,” to document his first experience at the conference. I’ll be turning his notes into a story for MittenBrew soon — essentially as a guide for new attendees in how to navigate the event, and what to expect. In between batching his daily downloads of information, I got to share the BDC movement with everyone I met, and it was easy to do. I mean everyone, and it was successful for two reasons: what I wore, and I wasn’t drunk.
I can’t take credit for my wardrobe during the week, but I repped a different colored BDC shirt every day at the conference. They were what I noticed the first time I encountered BDC in the summer of 2015. From a branding standpoint, our company’s name just makes sense, and the T-shirt is an attention-getter in all the right ways.
The week was pretty much non-stop. Being as it was my first time to D.C., I would’ve been remiss if I didn’t do the obligatory sightseeing (and am now a more humble American for it). I had the bleeding blisters on my feet to show for it. Rookie mistake.
By the end of the week, I had walked every single row on both levels of the convention floor, past all 900 vendor booths. It was interesting to see how empty and hear how quiet the convention floor was in the morning. If I had to speculate, a few of those 13,000+ attendees might’ve gotten a little banged up the night before. In following the #CBC17 thread on Twitter, I noticed a few vendor booths were giving away Hangover Kits. Of course, I had to check ’em out. Makes sense, right? Especially for a beer convention. They were filled with a combination of pain relievers, vitamin C, mints, wet wipes, band-aids, etc. Their approach was good in theory, I suppose. I mean, I get it, but it’s really all just smoke and mirrors. It’s unnecessary.
A few years ago in Vegas, I would’ve waited in line for a Hangover Kit, and probably would’ve snuck two or three of them. Last week, however, I took a Hangover Kit for a souvenir. And, for the band-aids. For the blisters.