Three Threads

Three Threads by | Jul 2009 | Issue #30

City “beer weeks” are all the rage these days. Do you think they support local beer scenes, or are they an opportunity for organizers to profit off of a new trend?

Nico Freccia
Co-founder/chief watermelon officer, 21st Amendment Brewery (California)
San Francisco Beer Week was organized by local breweries 21st Amendment and Magnolia Pub along with “beer chef” Bruce Paton, Jay Brooks of the Brookston Beer Blog and Tom Dalldorf, [editor]/publisher of the Celebrator Beer News. The concept then spread virally to other brewers, bar owners and retail outlets all over California as ideas and events came together. The emphasis of SF Beer Week was on how beer resonates within our community as demonstrated through beer and food pairings, education and beer demonstrations. The week brought together brewers and craft beer fans from around the world and featured 150 events in the Bay Area alone celebrating craft beer. Our SF Beer Week was truly a model for how a city beer week can create buzz and generate support for all craft beer. And the one that profits from this the most is the craft beer drinker.

Bill Covaleski
Founder/brewmaster, Victory Brewing Company (Pennsylvania)
My limited experience (Philly Beer Week) tells me that they are a sincere effort on the part of those committed to great beer to make an event of great beer for quality retailers to benefit from. Of course, local craft brewers gain from their efforts as new consumers are pulled in due to the mass intrigue. Consumers win because brewers challenge themselves in bringing out new offerings for the events. There can be a little pee left in the pool by importers pushing weak offerings that simply don’t match the local talent.

Hugh Sisson
Founder/general partner, Clipper City Brewing Co. (Maryland)
I really don’t see “city beer weeks” as a profit opportunity for the organizer or the sponsors. We are now preparing for our first-ever Baltimore Beer Week, and while we are excited, there is no way that we will recoup in wholesale sales the money we have invested in sponsorship. The key word is “investment.” I am certain that there are a few folks who will make a few bucks—let’s hope so, this is America!—but there is just too much work involved for the organizers to make it much more than a labor of love. The real value is in what “city beer weeks” do by nurturing local beer culture. It is indeed an investment in the future of better beer. While the pubs, restaurants and stores who currently support “craft beer weeks” will certainly derive some short-term benefit, the greater reward will be the long-term growth of the category. Encouraging more folks to see craft beer as a positive part of life sustains the whole movement, and if you are in this business, you understand that we must feed the goose that lays the golden eggs!