Normally, my notebook doesn't draw much attention. But this time, it was routinely a topic of conversation. "Are you taking notes?" "What are you writing?" "Do you want my number?"
I have the same routine. I stand in line. I hand the person standing behind the table my sample cup and a drink ticket. Tell him what I want to try. Then I step to the side, take a few sips, and begin to write. Sometimes the notes are better than others, sometimes they just say "Good, or "Not Good". But I always try to write down the name of the beer, and what my first impression of it was.
Normally, people don't say anything. They just go about their day, slamming down their sample, then stumbling on to the next line. A true tale sign of the amature.
But this brewfest was different. On several occasions, I was asked about my bright pink notepad. Don't judge, it was all I had at the time, and it works. It's worked for the last 3 beerfests so why stop now?
The most common question they asked was if I was keeping a list. My response, "Yes, I am keeping a list". Then some were asking if I was taking notes. My response, "Yes, I am taking notes". Then a few actually wanted to know what I was writing, and why I was writing. So I told them.
This is a direct violation of my beer blog rule #1. Keep your identity a secret. But just like Prohibition, that rule seems to be relaxing on a daily basis. Depending on who I was talking to, I told them that I wrote a beer blog, and that I was making notes about the beers I was sampling. The people in line thought it was cool. The people pouring the beer thought it was awesome, and wanted to know more. And as they would pour me another, or suggest a special or seasonal beer, they would attempt to talk up their beer. In other words, they were "schmoozing" me. They were attempting to bribe me with beer.
Did it work? No. But I did take the extra sample, and give it an honest review in my notebook. Sometimes, I told them I liked it when I really didn't. And sometimes I told them I really liked it when I did. When it came down to the truth, I didn't want to lie. I didn't want to be influenced by the people with an agenda.
On a few occasions, I did let the title of my blog slip out. But I tried to avoid that question. And for the most part, I did. I think 2 or 3 people actually know the title. That's not that bad considering that I tried at least 20 different beers.
I was fortunate to talk to Brendan from Left Hand Brewery. He had some vacation time, and offered to come and pour at the brewfest. We talked for a while, and he gave me his card. He said he would love to answer some questions. So next week, I plan on talking to him and conducting my first real interview.
So don't knock the little pink notepad. It did it's job well. And next week, I'll pull it out again and fill out the pages with my thoughts, and first impressions.