Now that the best beer (and coffee) festival in all the world has wrapped up, we decided to ask the Fervent Few to tell us what they love and hate about beer festivals—and what they’d like to see changed to make things better for attendees and brewers alike.
Josh Chapman and Andrés Muñoz would prefer if there were no VIP sessions or tickets. Almost everyone agreed that there need to be water stations everywhere.
Amy made a list of things she appreciates as both an attendee and as someone working a beer festival:
Attending as a consumer:
A limited amount of tickets and enough space to comfortably accommodate everyone
Rinsing of glasses at every booth before fresh beers are poured
Outdoors! Lots of shade in the summer, fire pits/heat lamps in the winter
Plenty of garbage cans/recycling bins around
Water stations galore!
Plenty of vegetarian food options
Attending or working as a brewery employee:
As fun as commemorative glasses are to keep, silicone or plastic cups prevent accidents
More ice (to keep kegs cold) provided by the festival
Specialty beers in the hospitality tent
Festival guests understanding that, when there’s a long line behind them, it might not be the best time to ask us a ton of questions
Festival and/or distributors transporting kegs to the booths for us
Lana Svitankova also made a dream festival list:
Paying for beer with tokens. I hate it when, at "unlimited pour festivals," people get a sip of beer, check it into Untappd, pour it out, and run to the next one, because "there are so many beers to try, so little time." It's disrespectful to the beer, brewers, and fellow attendees.
Pours that are neither too small, nor too big—about 3.5 fl oz/100 ml is ideal.
A limited number of tickets, and enough space for everybody. Ideally outdoors, but with tents in case of bad weather.
Invitational. Paid beer, paid staff, no entry fees for breweries, all the headaches are taken care of (like transporting kegs), a supply of chalkboards/markers, water at booths, you name it.
A lot of water to drink and rinse glasses with, and lots of food to prevent people becoming too intoxicated.
Several people mentioned that they don’t like it when volunteers who don’t know anything about the beers they are pouring are at the booths with no brewery backup. But Rob Scott made a counterargument:
“I’m putting forward a positive case for volunteers. After all, at the Fervent Few, we are progressive and seek to be better. For those of us not working in the industry, it’s a great way to meet brewery folk and to learn from them. As a regular volunteer, I take pride in making sure I understand how to correctly use the equipment and to know the basics of what I am serving. It works best when, throughout the festival, there are knowledgeable (and paid) brewery staff alongside us volunteers to talk with attendees while we keep cranking out the beer. I make sure I know where the facilities are, too. It’s massively rewarding to be a part of delivering a successful and happy festival, and I’ve made good friends doing it. I’m sure that, as a volunteer, you develop a respect and appreciation for the effort it takes to organize.”
Tim Decker wants to see more beer festivals become multi-day events. “My favorite festival is not a singular event, but rather a multi-venue weekend,” he wrote. “Not as big as a ‘beer week,’ where there are a bunch of half-assed events and little-to-no central organization. But instead, a few key participating breweries, bars, and restaurants with a variety of tastings, food pairings, dinners, lectures, etc. Some ticketed and some free. Two-to-four nights.”
Here’s what he says makes an ideal festival:
Single city/neighborhood (SF Beer Week now covers a huge radius far outside San Francisco city limits)
Some free and some ticketed events
Educational (include some lectures)
Rob Cartwright had a brilliant idea for the bathrooms: “This is pretty basic, but make sure to have unscented soap. Nothing like bringing a 3-oz sample of Stout to your lips and smelling lemon and/or bleach.”
There you have it, festival organizers! Go forth and implement these ideas at your next beer event. Want more feedback? Join the Fervent Few and hang out with our engaging community of beer fans from across the world!