CBC Week — Determining Expectations of a Beer Fest

During the week of April 20 — in place of what would have been the in-person Craft Brewers Conference — Brewer has had a chance to talk with some presenters from this year’s event and they shared a bit of what they had planned to present. The CBC is doing an online event with free seminars through May 31.

Ryan Evans feels that beer festivals —​ while they ​used to be a really fun ​aspect of the craft beer community — ​has​ become very competitive​.

“There’s so many of them now that they’re starting to really have to hone in and have something special to offer and I think​ ​that’s good for everyone​,” the co-founder of Bruz Beers told Brewer. He, along with Holidaily‘s Communication Manager, Kaitlyn Gipple, was scheduled to be on a panel this past week at the 2020 Craft Brewers Conference in San Antonio along with Joleen Durham of Piney River about strategizing for the potential beer festival season.

“A better festival is better for us all, both on the consumer side and the beer side​,” Evans said.​ “In my experience so far —​ ​as these things get kind of honed in and have a tighter purpose​ — it seems like we have better-run festivals and better organization.

​”​We used to show up in a field and set up a tent you’re kind of on your own and now they’re starting to cater and make sure ​everything is organized and streamlined and I think that’s good for everyone. So I hope the trend certainly continues​.”

Of course, COVID-19 is playing a major factor in any brewery’s plans for this summer (and maybe even into the fall). Yet taking steps to determine what is best for your brewery can be key. That can start with setting what kind of expectations you want out of attending each certain festival.

​That expectation can vary by brewery size, type of brewery, or even the location of the festival.​ And with so many options now, choosing can be difficult for any brewery.

​”We decided for us, what would make it worth it was either getting new account placements​,” Gipple said. Holidaily is a gluten-free brewery that has a wider distribution than Bruz, which sees a festival as a way to drive consumers back to their taproom​.

​”We ask our staff after a fest is over if we got some relationships with possible new accounts — either breweries or liquor store buyers that were there or something along those lines​,” she said. “I think a big component that we have talked about that we were going to present ​at CBC ​was: Can we do this festival well? Is it on the weekend​ that makes sense for us? ​Do we have a taproom event also going on that would draw people away from the taproom?

​”​Do we have more than one festival? Do we have enough supplies? Do we have enough staff that sort of thing?​”​

Gipple said that Holidaily realized that along with all the other breweries, it would get so many requests to participate in festivals every single year.

“We both have kind of developed our own system of how to determine is it a festival worth doing,” she said “Once we decide ‘yes,’ how do we get the most out of it? How do we make sure that it’s not just a fun thing that we’re going out and doing, but that is actually bringing in, whether that’s bringing people into the taproom — which it is for Bruz — or for us, it’s really getting more sales out and distribution.

“The whole premise was how do we decide which festivals we want to participate in and then how to take into consideration all of the costs that go into it.”

Bruz work​s​ hard to​ tangibly put some numbers behind ​each festival.

“How much did it cost, but then afterward, what did we get out of it​,” Evans said​.​ “​And it’s funny because each festival is totally different. We’ll be at some and within the next day or two, we’ll start getting some of these people back into the tasting room, but there’s some that trickle in over the entire year, so that number as a whole can still make sense.​”​

Photo courtesy Bruz Beers


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