Announcing The Session #130 – Create Your Own Beerfest


The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is our–the global beer blogging community’s–monthly get-together to write from our own respective perspectives on a single topic (of the monthly host’s choosing, which for December, 2017 means me). Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry. The series was created and is organized by the duo of Stan Hieronymus and Jay R. Brooks, and more information can be found on the latter’s site.

I’m honored to be hosting for the second time, first back in 2009, and not unexpectedly have landed on a topic near’n’dear to my heart: beerfests. Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and please, as someone who’s come back to The Session fold, I’m pushing to get 20+ fellow beer bloggers to participate in December, and onward) is to write about how you would design your dream beer festival. Posts are due Friday, December 1.

There are actually so many regional, local, and niche beer fests these days, we’re hearing a bit about “beerfest fatigue.” And I get that. Can you really hit 52 of ’em a year if you live somewhere near Portland, San Diego, Denver, Chicago, Philly, NYC, etc? As someone who attends more than my fair share, sadly not all are created equal, but one I may not care for is probably someone else’s annual favorite. Things to ponder:

  • Size matters: When building your own fest, are you striving for a crowd of Oktoberfest proportions in the millions, an epic party of many thousands, or more intimate few hundred?
  • Styles matter: From GABF where over 7,900 beers across every imaginable style (and mash-up) were available for sampling to themed events such as barrel-aged beers or holiday ales, to the plethora of IPA fests and some other single-style fests, would the event of your design be a grab-bag or exhibit razor-sharp focus?
  • Locavore vs Globe Trotter: After deciding what kind of beers to feature, or even before, think about if you’re inviting your local breweries or ones from your Brewery Fantasy League. Are attendees going to be more tempted to support local or to get a taste of beers from breweries they don’t already have access to? Let’s put aside for a second how hard it can be to bring in a brewery that’s not already licensed to distribute in your home town if that’s where this event is.
  • Location, location, and timing: The most important element of a successful event is its location. Followed by location. Followed by timing. When and where is this fantasy beerfest of yours? Is it in a city rife with events (meaning they’ve proven to be popular) or one starved for such a fest (but who’s to say if the locals will support)? And does it take place in the summer at the height of beer drinking season or a less-crowded date where it can shine on its own?
  • Etcetera. There’s a lot more that goes into organizing a beer fest. (I know from experience in producing some that have turned into annual events and some I’ve let slip away as a one- or two-off.) So if you want to opine about your favorite kind of glassware (or hated glasses you always see), ticket prices, food vendors, or anything else that you hate witnessing or wonder why we don’t see something like we should, add that, too. Finally, end with a note about why you can see trying to make this fantasy fest a reality or why you’ll never advance this idea of yours beyond the Session post!

Thanks for participating. Again, please post your blog in the comments below by or on Friday, Dec. 1. Or you can tag me @yaeger when you post on Twitter.

17 thoughts on “Announcing The Session #130 – Create Your Own Beerfest

  1. Festival to me is multi-day. Anything that is one day, or several hours is an event. Catering a dinner is no challenge. Try feeding the masses for three days! Size of the festival is in relation to space and time. It’s an “equation”, that if not done right creates a disdain and readjustment that may break a festivals chance of survival. A park outside in summer or a warehouse in winter? Well, the “equation” gets more added to it as one must choose style first. Not serving stouts in summer and lagers in winter, oooh, or am I? Uniqueness is key to a festivals beer selection and variety rules them all. Love many niches of beer, hard to go to one that follows a single style, type of fruit or particular Brewery.

    Getting beer is a piece of cake, know the law, have the resources and anything is possible. I have brought beer in Oregon in 48hrs, fully backed by the OLCC. Just don’t pay to much for the beer and shipping, and fnd out it’s a dud. Have a beer geek leading the way on your beer list. Passion matters here and so does fads and fetishs. The best selection comes from a brewer themselves. They’ve been at it more than anyone. Again, stay away from a single entity, to few followers and restricts growth.

    Aww, sh*t, let’s build this thing. I love sports. If I could go back in time I would tell cities to buy teams. No single owner and a city that doesn’t support others because the success of its own community matters more. Potholes not getting fixed in your town until you draft that QB and turn that 2-14 season around. My favorite setup has always been the NCAA finals. 64 teams vying for the top. Split into four regions with top seeds taking on the lower seeds. Upsets happen, rivalries are made, and even a miracle story can be found every couple years. Trust me this will relate to my festival soon.

    Parks cost money, tents cost money, trailers cost money, ice, fence, portal potties, water, advertising, tickets, wristbands, etc. But not if the city is supporting the industry. City, why not the state, heck, start taking my federal taxes to build this country wide, UN, want a piece of this action? You can see my growth plan here right?
    I’m blabbing now, let’s get to the point.

    The Dahlia Lama says the key to a successful community is through a period of celebration.

    64 cities, four regions, spanning over a year. Single elimination. Top seed gets the home field. Home field is an “expo” of travel and drinking. It comes down to 63 matchups. Start week one out with say 10 of them and continue with one a week, we can fit this Festival into a year. The Super Bowl of Festivals. Cities that advance will be given and advancement to compete in the next season (Spring, summer, fall and winter), the championship would come full circle back to where it started. This sets your styles for each round. Send your best beers from each city. Going head to head. Sample matchup is a #1 Portland vs a #16 seeded Charlotte.

    Beer writers, beer geeks, beer lovers and the occasional bud light guy saying he wants to give Craft Beer a shotareyour Judges. Buy a ticket to visit your grandma in Boston and attend that weeks matchup as well. Weighed equally, maybe some blind tasting maybe some not. There are events all weekend at these city festivals. Hotels are booked, travelers are enticed by wonderful airline deals and community businesses are all thriving. Saison battle on Saturday, IPA Sunday. Styles are based on the precursor of seasons and regions. Total the votes and may the best beer city win and move on.

    In Iron Chef, they include categories such as style and presentation. This would be for each city to win. Through its hospitality, food, unique qualities and even some ingenuity, towns could showcase and improve on their festivals. Themes are cool, but when San Jose has home field I’m expecting wristbands that swipe away your tickets and can get more reloaded right through your phone, maybe even an electronic sensor in my glass telling me my beer is going above favorable temperature.

    For cities that upset higher seeds, they can advance in their seeding the following years in order to host a beer festival as well. Everyone has a chance to bring it. No you bring it! Sports and beer, what a concept.

    Year one prediction, Portland beats San Diego on a last second swig. #13th seeded Boulder upsets a 4th seed and a 6th seed as an early on in a Cinderella story.

  2. Pingback: The Session #130: It’s my beer festival and I can make up crazy rules for it if I want to – Ramblings of a Beer Runner

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