I very nearly didn’t go to Ruby on Ales, but I’m very glad I did. RoA 2011 was the most fun I’ve had at a traditional (non-unconference) conference since RubyFringe. The talks were well-curated; full of original content, largely free of done-to-death topics, and for the most part they went beyond stereotypical “library HOWTO” subject matter. The venue was a real gem: a working theater furnished with comfy chairs and with a bar at the back instead of a popcorn stand. The food was several cuts above typical conference food. And Bend itself was a terrific choice for a setting: being able to walk a few blocks at most to every single after-hours dinner, drinkup, hack night, etc. was delightful.
Also, the beer really was phenomenal. And I don’t say that lightly; South-Eastern Pennsylvania doesn’t have much to crow about but I can name a half a dozen superb breweries within a 50-mile radius. So I’m a bit biased. Bend, with its remarkable proliferation of brewpubs, satisfied even my discerning palate.
In short, Ruby on Ales is now firmly on my short list of conferences to make it to again in 2012. Many thanks and much praise to the organizers for putting together a conference that went above and beyond the (already good) typical Ruby conference experience.