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Beer Festivals: Not Just For The Germans

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Beer: it’s wonderful stuff. On a beautiful sunny day by the beach or on a cold winter’s day by the fire there is always a beer for the occasion. If you’re something of a connoisseur and know your Tawny Ale from your Blonde Pilsner then you’ve probably been to your fair share of festivals. Perhaps you’ve even considered running your own?

That wouldn’t be such a bad idea, considering the increasing popularity of culinary festivals in general and beer festivals in particular. Would you be surprised to learn that beer festivals are currently more popular than those for wine? If you are thinking of running your own festival, there’s a lot to consider. Make sure you get the basics covered like a venue, local suppliers, liquor licensing, Wellington boot rental (if you’re planning an open air event!) and even portable amenities (that’s toilets to the rest of us). Read on, for some inspiration.

Who Runs Beer Festivals?

Often small beer festivals are organised by pub or bar owners looking to build their client base, or to establish their reputation as a purveyor of quality ale. Larger festivals tend to be held by brewer’s guilds, local councils, enthusiastic groups of micro-brewers, or simply fans of good beer.

Oktoberfest Version Two?

There’s no rule that says every beer festival has to be in September and lederhosen are certainly not obligatory. It is a good idea however to have a theme for your festival and stick to it. One great theme is to focus on small local breweries and get them involved. Not only does this support local businesses but people enjoy sampling local produce. Consider creating a competition atmosphere by judging the best beer at the festival.

Beer O’Clock

Choosing when to have your festival is very important. National holidays and long weekends are a great time, particularly in late spring, summer and early autumn. If there are any national evening events, such as fireworks displays, then make the most of the party atmosphere. However, it is a good idea to ensure that no other big events are taking place that will adversely impact upon your numbers.

Where’s the Beer?

Don’t be afraid to start small. It can be difficult to estimate the number of visitors you are likely to see and even more difficult to estimate the amount of beer they will consume! Talk to local micro-brewers who may well be experienced with the regional festivals. They will also be able to give you information on the types of beers they supply, so that you can ensure you have a good range available for your visitors to try. Try to make sure there is something for all tastes. If you are planning a family event, ensure there are plenty of soft drinks available for children and any designated drivers. Also having food onsite as it is always popular and will encourage visitors to stay longer.

If you choose to have your event outside, take the conditions into account. If it is likely to be wet, ensure you have adequate cover for your visitors. If it is likely to be particularly hot, ensure you have adequate coolers for the beer!

Willing Volunteers

You would be amazed how many people are willing to give up their free time on the promise of free entry to a beer festival and a few perks. As well as a few free bottles, commemorative t-shirts can often prove to be a deal clincher. Ideally look for volunteers who know a thing or two about brewing and are passionate about beer – and not just drinking it!

The Legal Bit

Depending upon local laws and your choice of venue, you will almost certainly require a license to sell alcohol. This will be known as either a ‘special’ or ‘temporary’ licence. It is essential for an event coordinator to investigate local regulations and begin the application process as soon as possible. If you intend to hold the event on a site with an existing license, make sure to discuss your needs and the terms of the license with the venue’s representatives.

Pipa Rose is a blogger who’s been to her fair share of beer festivals. If you are planning an event in or around Wellington New Zealand, make sure you look into liquor licensing Wellington.