Craft Beer Writing Symposium Set for Feb. 15 in Lexington, Ky

cropped-CraftWriting_WordpressBanner_Op2Most everyone likes to drink good beer. For those who want to write about it as well, there’s an interesting event coming up Feb. 15 in Lexington, Ky.: a symposium titled Craft Writing: Beer, The Digital, and Craft Culture, a day-long series of sessions with brewers and craft beer experts.

The symposium, organized by Jeff Rice, Professor of Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky, will feature speakers from all walks of the beer industry, including bloggers and brewers, capped by a keynote address from Garrett Oliver, an accomplished beer writer and brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery.

As a beer enthusiast and writer myself, I was both surprised and joyous when a colleague alerted me to this event. It was another one of those “craft beer has truly arrived” moments for me. I began writing about craft beer occasionally back in the mid-1990s, and if such a thing as this symposium had been suggested then, it would have likely been laughed off.

Now? Well, I’m guessing it will be well attended by those who have caught the fever. Quite a few have.

The Brewers Assoociation, the symposium’s website points out, reports that craft beer provides more than 108,000 jobs and posted a retail dollar value in 2012 estimated at $10.2 billion. In the last 20 years, more than 2,000 new breweries have come online, commanding nearly 6 percent of the overall American beer market. And there are many more cued up and preparing to open.

Rice creates such events for the university regularly, and all involve writing in some capacity. This one just happens to be a bit different.

“I’m also a craft beer enthusiast,” Rice said. “As a writing professor, I wanted to showcase the writing being done in the craft beer industry. We often focus only on the product – and I do as well – but we seldom focus on the ideas, histories being written, cultural reflections, critiques and provocations, and other writings being done in craft beer.”

It’s true – few writers are more fanatical and passionate as a beer blogger who is writing about what he or she loves. And there are a lot of bloggers and other writers who are writing about good beer.

But it’s also about the business of craft beer, which is growing not just in Rice’s surrounding Lexington, but all over the state of Kentucky and across the U.S.

“I hope to bring attention to craft beer in our community,” Rice said. “UK often works to help develop local businesses and industries based on our faculties’ expertise and interests.  Craft beer, as maybe the fastest growing segment of the food and beverage industry, is worthy of any attention we can help bring it here in Kentucky.”

Among the speakers are Julie Johnson, a co-owner and contributing editor of All About Beer; Teri Fahrendorf, 25-year beer industry veteran who has  been a head brewer at Steelhead Brewing and others; Stan Hieronymus, a beer author and blogger; Jeremy Cowan, owner of Shmaltz Brewing, author of Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah; and Mitch Steele, Brewmaster at Stone Brewing, author of IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes, and the Evolution of India Pale Ale.

Another speaker is Roger Baylor, owner of New Albanian Brewing Company in New Albany, Ind., and blogger at The Potable Curmudgeon. I have known Baylor personally for nearly 20 years, and I can say this with authority: If all of these speakers are as interesting and knowledgeable about craft beer, this will be one hell of a symposium.

The symposium will be held in the University of Kentucky Student Center; admission is free, but pre-registration is necessary. Here’s the schedule:

Session 1


“What if Michael Jackson Blogged? Communicating About Beer in the 21st century”

Introduction: Kevin Patterson, The Beer Trappe

Stan Hieronymus “So You Want to be a Beer Writer”

Julie Jones “When Your Beer News Arrived by Mail”

Teri Fahrendorf “Creating a Community Out of Thin Air”

Session 2


“Beer Knowledge”

Introduction: Daniel Harrison, Country Boy Brewing

Roger Baylor “Everything You Know is Wrong”

Jeremy Cowan “Founder and Owner of Shmaltz Brewing Company”

Mitch Steel “The Top Ten Surprises From Researching Historical IPA Brewing”



Introduction: Gary Spedding, Brewing and Distilling Analytical Services

Garrett Oliver “Beer is People”

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