When we decided, in the spite of the fact that it began as a joke, to create the first Monktoberfest, the most important question we had to answer was: why? Apart from incorporating craft beer into an event, why did a world with no shortage of conferences need another conference? How would we justify asking people to take time out of their schedule to be with us, not to mention travel up to us in Portland, Maine?
In the end, the reasoning was no different than that which created RedMonk, almost a decade ago. We wanted to build something different. A conference where we took the user experience very seriously. A conference populated by talks that would not be heard anywhere else. A conference full of smart, engaged people who were there by choice rather than geographical convenience. And a conference, of course, that converged the world of craft beer and the craft of software development.
Our attendees are ultimately the best judges of where and whether we have succeeded, but I am confident that for better or for worse, we have created in the Monktoberfest something very different.
Perhaps the best example of this is the two minute and thirty second video above featuring Sam Calagione, CEO of Dogfish Head Beer, talking to the Monktoberfest audience about how collaborating with your erstwhile competitors makes business sense. A lesson I wish the technology industry would absorb.
It’s notable not just because of the content, but because it didn’t come from us. Mike Maney, a longtime Friend of RedMonk, arranged and shot the video for the conference on his own. He and his colleague Matt Helmke turned their travel to the Monktoberfest into an epic 7 state roadtrip, featuring stops at craft breweries all the way from Delaware to Maine. From Riverhorse to Olde Burnside to Harpoon, they went from brewery to brewery, collecting stories and – thanks to some very gracious donations – beer.
How many conferences see attendees make that kind of an effort to make the event better, and more special? People like Mike Maney, then, are part of what makes the Monktoberfest different. A difference, we believe, that makes for a better conference.
Which is why reactions like the following are so gratifying.
— Pat Patterson (@metadaddy) October 5, 2012
@monktoberfest is about people discussing better ways to make better software sans tech talk, disguised as an excuse to drink great beer
— Erik Dasque (@edasque) October 9, 2012
Just landed at DCA from #monktoberfestmy life somehow feels less awesome
— Christopher Petrilli (@petrillic) October 5, 2012
Coming back from Monktoberfest full I ideas about how to make life better for remotes and maybe everyone.
— Rafe (@rafeco) October 6, 2012
— Matt Raible (@mraible) October 5, 2012
Had a fantastic time at #monktoberfest catching up with old friends, spinning up some business, and getting time to do real work. And: beer.
— cote (@cote) October 6, 2012
Home from Portland maine and Monktoberfest. It was my first, but definitely not my last! 🙂
— kellypuffs (@kellypuffs) October 5, 2012
great to meet everyone new + see everyone not new 😉 @ #monktoberfest – 2 days of solid quality
— Aneel (@aneel) October 5, 2012
— Joe Hildebrand (@hildjj) October 5, 2012
Reviews like these from Kelly Smith, Craig Cmehil or Alex King are, meanwhile, why we do the conference in the first place.
And just as rewarding as the knowledge that people enjoyed the experience is the understanding that they’ll be benefitting from it moving forward, via the new connections that are made between people, and by extension, the companies they work for.
Lest we make it sound like everything was perfect, rest assured that we had our share of hiccups. Everyone was unbelievably patient with our cramped facilities Friday, but that needs to be and will be fixed. Likewise, we’ll keep working on the wireless to get you all the bandwidth you crave. It’s worth noting as well that what mistakes were made were made by me, not our staff.
The simple fact of the matter is that as a smaller organization, we could not bring you the Monktoberfest without help. It’s something of a laundry list because we had so much of it.
We would like to thank the following people for helping to make the event possible.
- Our Sponsors (there’s no conference without them):
- IBM’s Puresystems, the lead sponsor for both the Monktoberfest and the Monki Gras (the London version), stepped up in a major way to not only provide the financial support necessary to make this conference possible – including touches like the massage chair – but the London iteration as well.
- Adobe and its PhoneGap team, as an Abbot sponsor, also helped to bring you the Monktoberfest by underwriting the finer aspects of the experience.
- Thanks to CloudSpokes, we have full video of every session.
- SAP, meanwhile, is bringing you follow up interviews with our speakers.
- Basho, for its part, helped to bring you the lobster, steak or veggie kabobs you had for dinner.
- Heroku was no slouch and offset three rounds of drinks.
- Another round came from the good folks at Zendesk, who along with Telegraph also helped bring you the finest doughnuts and breakfast sandwiches that Portland has to offer.
- Crowd Favorite helped us keep the wireless up for a full two hours longer than last year – yay! And FYI – the failure of the wireless is our fault, not theirs.
- O’Reilly bought free ebooks for everyone in the audience.
- Dell gave out three free Sputnik developer laptops to the open source contributors in the audience.
- Our Speakers: As last year, our speakers took their responsibilities at the conference very seriously. The presentations were equal parts thought provoking, amusing and practically useful. We can’t thank them enough for the effort that they put into the talks. We’re thrilled that this year they’ll be preserved for a wider audience.
- Ryan and Leigh: Following their role in the inaugural Monktoberfest last year, our good friends Ryan and Leigh left Maine to open Of Love and Regret in Baltimore, MD in conjunction with the craft brewer Stillwater Ales. It was only after they very graciously agreed to take a few days off and fly up for the Monktoberfest that I committed doing it; they’re that important. As I told the audience last week, Ryan and Leigh are not just in the conversation for the finest craft beer experts in the US, they’re one the best teams in the world. Even better, they’re not just world class experts, they’re friendly, accessible and enthusiastic world class experts. We are honored that they were willing to sacrifice their time to be with us. Incidentally, if you appreciated their work, Ryan is up for an award here and we strongly encourage you to vote on his behalf.
- The staff: Putting on even a small conference is an incredible amount of work. Without the efforts of Anna, Kate, Kim and Marcia, we would have had no caterer, no facility, no swag, no beer and thus no event. They did their jobs so well that most attendees weren’t even aware of the minor crises that occur behind the scenes at every conference, and I can tell you that they worked incredibly hard to bring you the event. The credit for the conference is by rights theirs.
- My wife: Not only did she put in long hours preparing for the conference and longer hours at the conference, she put up with the toll that the conference took on my free time. She’s the best.
- Oxbow Brewing: Many thanks to Tim and Geoff for hooking us with kegs fresh off the fermenter, as well as the shipped-that-day Oxtoberfest. Special thanks alsp to Tim and Avery for taking time out of their schedules to be with us.
- Allagash Brewing: Thanks to DeeDee and everyone else at Allagash for getting us some amazing beer. A note to our speakers: those bottles of Curieux came to you courtesy of Allagash’s generosity.
- Dogfish Head: Many thanks to DFH for working with Mike to have Sam address our audience via video. Also, all of the donated beer, which has and will continue to go to good technical causes.
- **Stillwater Ales: Thanks to Stillwater for their assistance in sourcing some difficult to obtain beers for us.
- Harpoon, Olde Burnside, River Horse Brewing: Thanks for the donated beers, and taking the time to be interviewed.
- Dan Turkenkop, Apprenda: Thanks for bringing us a case of fine New York craft beers from Ommegang.
Several people have inquired after the official beer list of the Monktoberfest. This is what we served (officially).
* Allagash (ME) White
* Oxbow (ME) FPA
* Stillwater (MD) Of Love and Regret / Premium
* Allagash Fluxus / Curieux
* Alvinne (Belgium) Melchior Zymatore
* Oxbow Loretta Grisette / Oxtoberfest
* Piccolo Birrificio (Italy) Seson
* Stillwater As Follows / Existent
* Alchemist (VT) Heady Topper
Our full session listing and the majority of the slides are available on our Lanyrd page.
We have captured full video to the show, and it will be linked to here as soon as it’s available or look for it at redmonk.com/tv.