Social Media Marketing World BadgeI traveled to San Diego recently to attend Social Media Marketing World, a premiere conference designed to pull together the world’s top social media professionals.

You can read a few of my takeaways in a blog post I wrote for What’s Up, USANA? But I also wanted to share a couple insights here — and provide a few note about an incredible off-agenda San Diego beer tour.

#SMMW14

First, the conference. In a word: Overwhelming. I say that not because I felt lost or intimidated by the content (though I remain impressed by the brains behind a lot of today’s social media marketing).

Rather, I believe the organizers tried to pack too much into two days of learning. And the way the sessions were timed and structured left me wishing I could be in four places at once (I saw only nine sessions in person, not counting the keynotes). I suppose that’s an unavoidable issue with conferences of this magnitude.

Fortunately Social Media Examiner, the organizers of the event, offered a “virtual pass,” which includes all recordings and slide decks for the 70+ presentations for a fraction of the in-person price. I’m really looking forward to diving into the material I missed on-site.

Social Media Marketing World Panel

I recognize the inherent value of attending events such as these in person (networking, being the biggest bonus, and the one that appeared to be the conference’s primary focus).

But for the time and money involved, I am leaning toward ordering only the virtual pass next year and skipping the trip to San Diego — even though San Diego in the spring is quite a treat.

San Diego

Craft Beer Tour

Speaking of San Diego’s awesomeness…

The city definitely fed my craft beer obsession. In addition to trying tasty brews with meals and over random conversations, I had the opportunity to take part in a post-conference Craft Beer Tour.

Alesmith - Craft Beer TourOrganized by Rev Ciancio — if you’re near New York, be sure to visit his Idle Hands bar — and featuring about 20 social media-slash-beer enthusiasts, we toured three of San Diego’s preeminent craft beer establishments.

We boarded our very own craft beer fun bus (complete with, ahem, dance pole) and hit the road. First on the docket: Alesmith Brewing Company.Green Flash - Craft Beer Tour

Alesmith proved to be a quaint tasting room with several of their delicious brews available to us. We each were afforded four or five four-ounce samples over the course of our hour-long stay. My favorite? Speedway Stout.

Next up: Green Flash. I’m embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t at all familiar with Green Flash before stepping foot inside its spacious tasting room, which is attached to its brewery.

It quickly jumped toward the top of the list of my favorite breweries (and I hear Utah might be getting some Green Flash in the not-too-distant future).

The tasting was Ballast Point - Craft Beer Toursolid from top to bottom, with my favorite being the Le Freak, a Belgian IPA.

Final stop: Ballast Point, which could very well have been my favorite overall brewery of the night. It was definitely the busiest and was more of a traditional bar.

The Habenero Sculpin, an IPA with habanero peppers added, was spicy and delicious. It’s not a beer I could drink all night (or even have more than one of, maybe) but in small quantities it’s definitely a not-to-be-missed, one-of-a-kind experience.

Beer List

Here are the beers I sampled during the tour:

Alesmith

Green Flash

Ballast Point

I also visited Stone Brewing the following day for lunch and not as part of an official tour. The grounds of its Liberty Station Bistro and Gardens were gorgeous, and it was nice to sip a couple brews on a sunny San Diego afternoon.

Idle Hands

Bonus

As luck would have it, I traveled to New York the following week on business and had the opportunity to visit Idle Hands on a night when The Who songs were being paired with delicious Single Cut beers.

Not bad. Not bad at all.