Friday, 19 Feb 16 (02:15pm)
The increase in popularity for Real Ales and craft beer in the UK looks unlikely to halt anytime soon. From the rise of specialist bottled beer shops to the niche of craft beer chains like Brew Dog, The UK just can’t get enough beer.
With the rise of beers and ales comes the increase in places to sample new, micro brewed glasses of delight in the form of beer festivals. The problem with an increase of anything is the concern of filling the market with average experiences. If you are considering hosting a beer festival, be it for 50 people or 500 people, here are 5 great tips to make sure yours stands out and has beer drinkers coming back again for more.Â
Getting the right beer
The be all and end all of your festival will of course be the quality of the beer available, that’s why you need to work hard on getting it right. If you are a brewery controlled pub then obviously its best to discuss what they have to offer first.
If you are organising it outside of this it’s a great to do your research of local brewers and particularly those who have a good reputation, a good place to find this is on the CAMRA site who are the authorities voice in UK beer.
Once you have organised some suppliers its time to consider what to offer. No matter what you might think sells particularly well, its important to get a range wide range, from Stouts to Pale Ales and everything in between, not to mention fruity numbers, ciders and some international imports.
Finally, you need to consider percentages. The rise in popularity of ale has meant more people are drinking 3.8-4.1% beverages more often, however you must offer something from each end of the spectrum to make this as appealing as possible.
The cost of a beer festival can seriously put punters off. Things like entrance fees or token fees can frustrate people if the booze on sale then isn’t at a good price. It is understandable to charge an entrance fee if there is more than just the beer on offer, such as food or entertainment (which we will get to later), but if you’re not than it might frustrate punters.
The next issue is planning your pricing for the beer. The two options you have is to have a graded system in which you might have different grades (based around strength) which have different prices. So the Blue graded beers might all be one price, where the Red graded beers might be another.
Your second option is to employ a Monopoly money style system where drinkers buy a number of them on the door and then all of your drinks are the equivalent to one token, making work for the bar staff much easier, which I’m sure they will thank you for.
Whether you are hosting your festival in a pub or in a large marquee, its best to give your drinkers some form of entertainment. There is a reason music always accompanies drinking and that’s because it doesn’t require a person’s full attention for them to enjoy it.
On top of this it is actually proven that people drink more as a result of listening to live or loud music, so it’s a win win for everybody.
Its important to get the music right by finding something that is going to please a wide range of beer drinkers. You may have people ranging from 18 to 80 so its best to find acts which cover music from a number of decades, or at least tunes that everyone can bob their head along to.
A good place to find bands and artists of all genres and backgrounds is sites like Band Hire UK. They have a massive spectrum of artists so you will have no problem finding an act perfect for your festival.
Create a buzz
To make your festival stand out from the rest and to make sure you get the most interesting breweries wanting to showcase their drinks at your festival, you’ve got to give something back.
A good way to get the breweries excited and competitive is to create awards at the end of the festival. Things like most popular drink, best brewery or most inventive drink can really make a difference to them because it tells them their drink was enjoyed and will encourage them to come back the following festival.
Its also good to use social media to spread the word of your festival. Because ales and craft beers are as popular as ever, they are being drunk by a new, younger generation. The stereotypical beer drinker is that of a middle to older aged man, but because this is no longer the case it’s a great time to connect with the wider audiences, and social media is your best tool.
Showcasing the drinks you will have on offer with pictures, Vine video clips and regular status updates via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will reach a far wider audience than putting an advert in the local paper or writing on your pubs chalk board.
The one thing that people need to prolong a day on the ales is of course food. Depending on your budget and scale you could look for catering from a local sandwich shop right up to gourmet street food venders. If you are going a bit more up market this list from The Resident is very helpful.
Considering these five tips will go along way to ensuring you put on a great beer festival which will hopefully leave breweries and punters begging for another festival next year.