Finding the Best Fit for Beer Festivals for Your Brand

​As​ the summer heat kicks in, pop-up tents and jockey boxes will begin to flow more and more beer, and with pandemic concerns easing a bit that means more beer festival opportunities for your brewery.

Being discerning in what festivals are best for your brand and what to bring are key thoughts to plan for, even looking ahead to future events in the following years.

Sarah Young, Executive Vice President of Wild Heaven said that the veteran Georgia brewery has developed a solid set of rules for festival and event participation.

“We want to make sure that the right brands are participating, that we’ll be amongst our peers,” she explained, saying that Wild Heaven won’t typically join a brand new festival or event unless they know and like the individuals running the event.

A few parts of the early checklist include:

  • The festival organizers must always be properly licensed and purchase product through the distributor.
  • If the event proceeds benefit a charity, Young said that Wild Heaven is fine with donation but it must be a properly licensed event and go through proper channels.
  • “If it’s a really large festival with a ton of brands/non-beer options, we typically will supply beer but not provide a rep for the brand if it’s not required,” she added.

It’s usually a conversation of input versus output​, explained Stephanie Henderson, Director of Arizona Craft Beer​ for Mother Road​ Brewing.

​”Festival participation is often contingent on the sales/event staff your brewery has to work with​,” she said. “With input, we’re looking at how much time and money we’re investing in the beer, staffing, marketing, mileage, lodging, and POS to be at this event.​ ​​Output looks at things like engagement for the festival, our presence in the geographic location of the festival, and the event’s reputation with the community.

​”​Because we don’t have plans to expand distribution outside of Arizona any time soon, most Arizona beer events are worthwhile as we continue to grow our relationships in the state.​”

Catering the Mother Road lineup depends on the event, Henderson added.

“For Mother Road specifically, we have maintained four core brands with little specialty presence for most of our existence, so there isn’t much to reel back on,” she said. “That said, we’ll push one or two of our four based on what we believe needs more visibility in that specific market.”

​Wild Heaven prefer​s​ to only provide canned beers​. Young pointed out that it’s ​​better marketing​ and​ less fuss​ for the brewery, but if a festival requires draft, ideally they or ​the brewery’s distributor are handling that part of the equation.

​”​It’s great if our rep is able to just show up with freebies, ready to talk all day about our beers​,” she said. “Exposure is important​ and​ that the organizers know how to sell out an event and market it properly.​”​

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