“Authentic Beer Festivals”
This term irks me every time I read it. It’s almost like “All Natural Artificial Flavor.”
What’s authentic? The beer? The Festival? The fact that it’s really happening? Seems like this is just another over-inflated marketing attempt trying to piggy-back on the success of craft beer. Sadly, because of the rise in popularity in recent years, some people are trying their hardest to ruin the idea of a beer festival.
Remember the days when you would go to festival, wait in line for a few minutes to get a fresh new beer from your favorite breweries and then move on to the next booth? It was all about finding the next best thing.
Those days are almost gone. Yeah, truthfully, you probably weren’t there just to taste, but you also didn’t have smaller breweries effectively fighting Bud or Coors or any of their legions of spinoffs for space. Usually, it was more of a fun way to spend a couple hours outside with 1000 of your closest friends. Festivals were also almost always raising money for a local charity, so you felt like a full-blown beer-philanthropist while sipping your suds of choice.
This new beast of a beer festival could become, in my opinion, the worst thing for craft beer. They’ll probably have the same few beers from our favorite breweries, along with a ton of “crafty” beers as well. Just the fact that it is being held in the old Longs Drug building makes me remember a certain fest from last year. That event, for those who weren’t there, was overly crowded, and to boot, they put Smirnoff Ice next to Paradox’s booth, so be warned, “Insert City Name Here” “On Tap” may be more of the same.
Just like the Keep Colorado Local movement trying to keep craft beer out of grocery stores, I think we need to keep beer festivals out of old grocery stores.
Now, don’t get me wrong, we have festivals here in Colorado like the Brewers’ Rendezvous, New Belgium’s Clips of Faith, Vail Big Beers, and Saison Fest that promote what’s going right in craft beer, but when you have companies like America On Tap roaming the countryside, putting on cookie cutter festivals, the future does become worrisome. Don’t get us wrong, there’s plenty more festivals that are doing it right, but right now we’re seeing a massive influx of corporate-style beer fests.
[quote align=’right’]Essentially, it’s the suburbanization of beer festivals. Every one looks and feels the same.[/quote]
Now do they claim to help a local nonprofit, or do they give the profits to a local charity like so many of our favorite festivals do? Not from what I see. Bummer. They do claim to have “over 100 releases from America’s top breweries,” yet when they come to a town bursting at the seams with breweries, they only include one. Well, maybe they just already filled up with other breweries from around this country. There sure are a lot.
To be fair, their About Us page has this at the end: “Each […] Beer Festival is promoted as part of the overarching national brand but maintains a localized feel that caters to each individual city, their cultures and the beers that make them unique.” They’re trying, but our fair city’s event seems like the only thing that is “localized” is the fact that it’s physically happening here.
So who is actually going to be pouring at this fest? As of this evening, I count 6 cider makers…5 of which are owned by Anheuser or Coors, a bunch of breweries owned by Costa Rica’s Total Beverage Solution and a lot of Bud and Coors Brands. I only see one “local” brewery, Great Storm … with a few Colorado favorites like Breckenridge, Ska, Oskar Blues, New Belgium and Avery. We’ve become used to seeing those guys at every fest, but why not any more locals? Why not the beers that make us “unique?”
Why not include Trinity, or Iron Bird, or Fieldhouse, or Fossil, or Smiling Toad or Red Leg? Why not include area favorites like Manitou or Paradox or Pikes Peak? Bristol didn’t even make the list, and they’re at every fest I’ve seen in this town. I’ve stared at the list for a long time trying to think of why all these other breweries were left out, and the only explanation I can come up with is there were better opportunities for most of our local brewers elsewhere. With that said, I hope Great Storm blows everyones socks off and people leave the fest wanting more local Colorado Springs beer! I know I’ll see all those listed above at Springs Beer Fest or All Colorado Beer Fest, and those both go to great local causes, so there’s nothing to worry too much about.
So, what should you glean from this? With beer festivals popping up like gopher mounds, look at why you want to go in the first place and choose accordingly. If you’re looking for a frat-party-style event where people are just counting their 4 oz samples, maybe these new cookie-cutter things are right up your alley, but if you’re wanting to sample some of the best local beer, look elsewhere. That’s where I’ll be.
If you do end up going to the fest, enjoy yourself, say hi to our local beer reps, and let us know how it was. It’s always nice to hear other people’s point of view.