The 2011 end-of-the-year numbers for the craft beer industry was more positive than ever. More new breweries and increased beer sales showed that the craft beer movement is still strong. This of course attracts many beer lovers, entrepreneurs and gold diggers. Some have serious intention and passion for craft beer and some think it’s an easy way to make money. I had the pleasure of managing All About Beer Magazine‘s World Beer Festival for a few years. Our mission was to build the local beer community and to educate the public in beer appreciation and beer quality. That festival is only about passion for beer!
I don’t know anything about the people behind the Austin Beer Fest. But when I read the article in Culture Map Austin I get the feeling that this is gold diggers with the smell of gold. Working with convention centers, expo centers and sports venues is challenging. They often have a food and beverage service company that have the license to serve food and beverage at the venue. Having any event at a venue like that means that you hand over much of the control of the event to those companies. I had the pleasure to take the World Beer Festival to Columbia, SC. The convention center in Columbia was great to work with. We were able to come up with a solution that benefited us both and we didn’t compromise on our key elements.
A fast growing industry like the beer industry will attract people that think they can make a fast buck and that comes collateral damage where beer lovers and craft breweries takes the hit. As a beer festival attendee you need to do some research before attending an event. I look at my beer rating criterias and see how well the event stand up against that. I also try to figure out who the people are behind the festival. This is where I put in most of my research time. If you can’t really get a good picture of who is behind the event raises a red flag for me. Events that have a craft brewery or beer magazine as main sponsor or partner are usually good events. I avoid events that are organized by marketing companies. I also prefer events that are fundraisers for a non-profit organization. I avoid events that are not organized by breweries and that doesn’t have a beneficiary organization. Events that encourage over-consumption and have beer pong tournament on the agenda is a BIG NO-NO for me!