One of the benefits of my full-time job as a surfactants chemist for a Fortune 500 company is that I get to attend a lot of conferences and seminars – some as an attendee, some as a presenter, some as an organizer.

That said, one of the best benefits about running LOGIC is that I get to combine business and pleasure by attending a completely different set of conferences and festivals. Last month I spent a couple a weekends attending two of the best in the homebrewing and home-winemaking fields – the annual WineMaker Magazine conference (as a vendor and sponsor) and the National Homebrewers Conference (primarily as a hobbyist, though I was a sponsor). Both are a lot of fun and not for the faint of heart – or liver!

If you haven’t attended one of these weekend conferences – or one like them – I urge you to think about. There are a lot of benefits that will make you a better homebrewer or winemaker because the organizers typically present some great seminars on all aspects of our hobbies that get into details you can’t learn just by reading.

Meals and other social activities are great ways to meet new friends and discuss techniques and tips.

Meals and other social activities are great ways to meet new friends and discuss techniques and tips.

The focus of these conferences really is education and there are great technical programs that cover aspects from new discoveries, improving techniques, understanding old techniques better, and simply learning more about some of our favorite people and places through open discussions with panelists. But one of the best things about these conferences is that the learning isn’t all formal; not by a longshot.

Even after more than two decades as a homebrewer and winemaker, I find that I learn just as much in having table discussions at meals with other hobbyists. They are great opportunities to make new friends and catch up with old friends, especially those who really do make it a lifestyle. They are constantly learning and teaching others, and many of the attendees are leaders in the field.

One of the great things about these industry gatherings is meeting people who you have spent years hearing or reading about, such as Daniel Pambianchi, Technical Editor for Winemaker Magazine; or John Blichmann, founder and owner of Blichmann Engineering, among so many others. What you quickly learn is that these people are just like the rest of us – they love what they do and they are happy to spend time and chat with you.

Another great thing about conferences in our industry are that they usually include a club event of some sort where members from organizations around the country – heck, we’ve met people from many countries – share their wines or beers and discuss how they made them, what they used, why they did what they did, and how they overcame any obstacles that presented themselves along the way. It’s really a nice thing when you can avoid a mistake by learning from the experiences of others.

As you know, one of the most fun things about this hobby is sharing, and all are happy to do so. Great memories are really made on these nights.

As a professional and the owner of LOGIC, I enjoy the opportunities to promote my products and meet my peers in the industry. We often find ways to help each other and our communications continue throughout the year. As a hobbyist when it comes to make beer and wine, I have to say I love learning from my peers and meeting old and new friends – especially so many of you who stop by to say hi and see what’s going on.

Both the WineMaker Magazine Conference and the National Homebrewers Conference are fantastic areas for both beer and wine. I encourage you to try to attend. You return home as a better homebrewer and/or winemaker, but even more importantly, you’ll come home with a much larger friends list.

Hope to see you there.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

Rick Theiner