What would you like to see at a BeerAdvocate Virtual Fest?

Discussion in 'BeerAdvocate Talk' started by Todd, Jun 23, 2020.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,167) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    We've seen various forms of virtual beer festivals and tastings emerge during the pandemic, ranging from a Zoom call, to prerecorded programming, to exploring a box of beers at home during a guided tasting with brewers; like the successful Untappd Virtual Festival that the team recently hosted.

    I don't anticipate being able to host live beer events until Q1/Q2 2021, and I miss the hell out of our fests, so I've been mapping out some ideas for our own BeerAdvocate Virtual Fest later this year. It's too early to share anything, but I'd love to hear your ideas and incorporate anything that I might be missing.

    So, what would you like to see at a virtual BA fest?

    Thanks in advance.
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  2. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (3,006) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts

    I would suggest maybe a recording of it to play back after it ends for a little while like a week or something. I forgot the Untappd Virtual Festival started at 3pm on the first day and I missed the first hour, but was able to watch the first part of it right after the first event ended with the recorded playback. Definitely helps if you can't make that specific time for whatever reason.
  3. MrGreenJeans

    MrGreenJeans Devotee (404) Nov 28, 2005 Arizona

    I'm curious how this would work.
    micada and nc41 like this.
  4. thuey

    thuey Disciple (342) Nov 13, 2015 California

    I didn't join the Untappd one, but if you guys did a boxed beer tasting I'm in!
  5. emptyglassagain

    emptyglassagain Zealot (549) Jun 3, 2012 Massachusetts

    Would there be a way to purchase beer boxes (ipa box, stouts/porters box, sours box etc) so that people would have the same general beers and drunk along with each other and the brewers. Self sourcing seems challenging right now if it had to be matched to a list. Maybe I’m missing something though
  6. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,167) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    Yes. This would be the only way that we'd do it.
  7. mtravis63

    mtravis63 Initiate (73) Jan 24, 2014 Louisiana

    I'm in for a box beer event. Tasting panel discussion, brewers chat, pretty much anything to drink some brews with folks around the country.
  8. gandalfcat

    gandalfcat Disciple (384) Nov 28, 2009 California

    It would be nice to have beers from around the country if possible, especially those not distributed widely. Variety of styles would be good. I’m not a fan of IPAs but enjoyed trying some new ones. I’ve done the Untappd fest and a couple with primarily California breweries. I liked that Untappd spread the fest over 2 days so there was more time spent enjoying the beer while discussing it with a rep or brewer. Cramming 10 beers in a 2 hour session is not good.
  9. traction

    traction Defender (659) Dec 4, 2010 Georgia
    Society Trader

    Ideally a boxed beer tasting that could ship to all 48 continental states although I'm not sure about the logistics required for that. A lot of people missed out on the last tasting due to shipping restrictions
    MNAle, micada and TongoRad like this.
  10. adamschorr

    adamschorr Disciple (381) Dec 30, 2007 New York

    I’d want it to be as close as possible to an actual fest. A box shows up at my door a few days before. Each brewer is in a virtual chat room and you create your itinerary before signing up for “appointments” with each brewer. You and a small handful of others share a time slot and you talk about and drink the beers they’re serving. So actually, I think you’d need to create your itinerary before and choose the beers you want.
  11. warrendietrich2001

    warrendietrich2001 Defender (688) Feb 13, 2013 Nevada

    As someone who has flown to several of your festivals I would gladly support the virtual festival (saves airfare and hotel). I think it would be awesome if you if the brewer could tape a quick video blog of the beer that's being tested or even each brewery hosts a 10 minute ask the brewer q&a. I do think it should be style specific or region specific.
  12. usctrojan415

    usctrojan415 Initiate (23) Mar 28, 2016 California

    Beers from Other Half, Trillium, Treehouse, Foam Brewers, Alchemist, Green Cheek, Monkish, Hop Butcher, Tired Hands, Sante Adairius, Alvarado Street, Finback, Singlecut,
    KevSal, TrojanRB, pants678 and 5 others like this.
  13. cryptichead

    cryptichead Poo-Bah (1,582) Jul 3, 2014 Illinois
    Society Trader

    A well-curated and decently priced box would be key. Doesn't have to be anything rare but maybe regional favorites that are not nationally distributed or as well known.

    Also, maybe different options for 4-pack, 6-pack, 10-pack, etc

    Or boxes curated just for the IPA tasting or lager tasting or stout tasting

    Obviously, the more choices, the harder it becomes logistically, but that's what comes to mind
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  14. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (3,006) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts

    It might be a good idea to have a few common widely distributed and still good beers in the mix along with some different styles and maybe more limited releases, so that people who can't get a box shipped might be able to get that beer or one close to it at their local liquor store. I was considering that with the Untappd Fest because half of the beers are in my local market, but I figured I'd try out the new ones too and get the full package since they delivered here.
    cjgiant and Todd like this.
  15. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (4,021) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    Honestly @Todd, the Untappd fest was perfect to me. The curated box of beers available for purchase; the one on one interviews with the brewers/guests and audience questions; the ability to watch the fest live and participate or re-watch it after the fact; etc. Overall it really worked - so I'd love to see something along those lines.
  16. el_bobbo

    el_bobbo Disciple (361) Dec 22, 2010 Massachusetts

    Having participated in the Untappd Virtual Festival with a buddy (sat outside with a TV on the deck), the beers at home was an amazing feature. The discussions with the brewers (or brewery representatives) was the perfect tie-in with the beer pairings, in addition to pulling questions from chat for discussion. I think the Untappd fest saw about 1k peak viewers on Saturday and a tad less Sunday, so the audience is out there.

    The one thing that kept popping up in chat was schwag. Although I'm sure it would be a bit of a logistical nightmare, finding a way to get brewery stickers/pins/buttons/etc and even the option to buy brewery t-shirts or an even t-shirt would be a great added bonus.
  17. Mebuzzard

    Mebuzzard Poo-Bah (3,898) May 19, 2005 Colorado
    Society Trader

    Keep the cost down if you want it to be inclusive. Boxes of beer will limit who joins based on price. I suppose fests are basically exclusive that way.

    I guess the M.O. of the beer fest has to be looked at. Why have one in person? Why have a virtual one?
    officerbill likes this.
  18. Sound_Explorer

    Sound_Explorer Poo-Bah (1,868) Dec 29, 2013 Washington

    Box tasting, live or recorded, is something I would highly enjoy personally.

    I second the idea of anything live being recorded and available for some time after the event for those unable to attend live. Speaking of, would there be any way to have some audience participation as far as asking questions and such during something like the tasting? Say a select few random individuals invited to do so? Maybe the first 10 or something that join the "show"?

    Finally, some prerecorded stuff would be nice too. Maybe something educational such as how to taste, style details or history, or a little look behind the scenes at BA, etc. Nothing long or anything just 5 or 10 mins really.
    schmegs, MadtownMaltman, Todd and 2 others like this.
  19. ahacsgt

    ahacsgt Devotee (409) Mar 11, 2007 Massachusetts

    20 bars 20 countries start at 20:20 hours!
  20. ellindril

    ellindril Zealot (536) May 7, 2007 Massachusetts
    Fest Crew Society

    I think the box tasting is probably the way to go as far as getting people interesting and different beers. Which would be cool if they had a similar format of the Brewer Talks that used to happen at the early BA festivals.

    An option that might be fun and possibly lower key would be posting a list of beers in advance from nationally distributed craft brewers and giving people a few weeks tot rack the beers down. Then host a video chat of Todd and Jason drinking and talking about the beers and breweries while answering attendee questions. Do this regularly and you've got a youtube channel.
  21. LoriS17

    LoriS17 Initiate (83) Apr 4, 2013 Arizona

    The Untappd festival went pretty well, from my perspective. I would want to see a future virtual event include:

    *Ability to purchase the beers to have shipped to me so I can enjoy the same thing everyone else is drinking - hopefully with a vendor who can ship to most states.
    *Ticket includes beer, maybe a tasting glass, and other merch (priced accordingly!)
    *Planned "after party" events in smaller groups so people can chat. The larger group is fun, but not possible to actually talk to anyone.
    MadtownMaltman, TongoRad and Todd like this.
  22. GimmeAGuinness

    GimmeAGuinness Defender (605) Sep 1, 2005 Massachusetts
    Fest Crew Society

    I was thinking something along that line, too. Might be tricky to get everyone having the same bunch of beer, but it's a cool idea.
    Todd likes this.
  23. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,568) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    I have some lady friends who use zoom for virtual wine parties, they split the screen so everyone can see each other and away they go. But they're a group of maybe 8, how you expand that number I haven’t a clue. I’m trying to do that now with my friends in PA and Cali.
    StoutElk_92 likes this.
  24. WSKY54

    WSKY54 Initiate (18) Jun 22, 2019 Rhode Island

    That was going to be my suggestion too. Not much point for me if I have to remember what was said and THEN go searching for the beers. I'm getting old and forgetful!
    Todd likes this.
  25. Jbuitron

    Jbuitron Initiate (70) Sep 11, 2015 Illinois

    I would love to participate in a virtual festival and think it would be cool to have different levels of interaction/participation. Perhaps a box of beers for different sessions. Maybe even have a regional session for people who live in certain states and get some breweries to allow those with tickets to buy special beers brewed just for the virtual festival.
    Todd likes this.
  26. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,167) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

  27. DCBrad

    DCBrad Initiate (60) Apr 28, 2012 Maryland

    and if any the brewers were to participate and contribute commentary/insights while tasting their beer, that would make it even better.
    MadtownMaltman, Todd and StoutElk_92 like this.
  28. sulldaddy

    sulldaddy Poo-Bah (3,782) Apr 6, 2003 Connecticut
    Society Trader

    Some sort of box beer tasting is essential, but what is in the box is more critical.
    When I do go to a fest, I usually pass on beers that Ive had frequently or that I can buy in a store. Even good ones.

    The Fest for me is about exposure to new beers and even better new breweries. Maybe focus on places that dont distribute, or at least beers that arent distributed.

    Schwag like a tasting glass or a shirt can also be fun add on to the package and experience.

    Having a Zoom guided tasting panel of brewers would also be a nice feature, to learn more about what the beer experience is envisioned from the brewer.

    what about some instant polling as is available on Zoom to have a best of fest drinkers choice award as voted by attendees?

    good luck, looking forward to what you come up with!
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  29. RedEcho

    RedEcho Initiate (69) Oct 23, 2012 Massachusetts

    I go to beer festivals for two reasons:
    • To try breweries that do not regularly ship to my part of the country
    • To try one offs from local breweries
    Basically, if I feel there is a reasonable chance that I'll encounter a distribution rep passing out free samples of the latest & greatest at my local package store then I don't want to spend $30/40/50+ just to have a couple bottles show up at my doorstep.
    sulldaddy likes this.
  30. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (3,198) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I’d participate in a live Zoom Webinar-style fest that has a few back-to-back panels on interesting topics — mainly just because it’s BA and it would be fun to see how it goes.

    In all honesty, I wouldn’t watch a pre-recorded YouTube video unless it was something wicked controversial or crazy high production value.

    I wouldn’t pay for the webinar, but would participate if it were free to BA supporters, free overall or included with the purchase of a beer box.

    I would pay for a box of beer, of course. Hopefully not all NEIPAs! I still haven’t tried the Utopias WWS, so maybe you can get Sam/DFH to sponsor and include one of those to start? Maybe even do a first canning of it for the fest? Just thinking out loud.

    FWIW, I just signed up for another virtual beer fest and one thing I like is that the box they’re shipping in has four color art inside making it a backdrop for beer photos, and also includes a high-quality fest glass. Reminds me of Loot Crate. What I didn’t like is that their sign up/payment system sucked.
    TongoRad, Todd and FBarber like this.
  31. ORF

    ORF Disciple (347) Oct 10, 2009 California

    I hate to be a party pooper, but my whole idea of a great beer fest is being able to sample as many new beers as you brewers can come up with, and to talk to each of you about your idea for it, and give you my opinion
    duceswild likes this.
  32. CTHomer

    CTHomer Poo-Bah (3,258) May 23, 2014 Connecticut
    Society Trader

    The one thing I would have liked more of at the recent virtual festival was a more in depth discussion about each of the beers. Why were each of the hops/malt varieties chosen? How did they each help define the finished product? With the brewers right there, I would have liked more of an opportunity to learn and enhance my tasting skills and general beer knowledge.

    The only other suggestion I would have is to include well known beers/breweries that have limited reach - New Glarus and Surly come to mind. That would give the many BAs who are not traders their only opportunity to sample some of these.
    p025757, TongoRad, Todd and 1 other person like this.
  33. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,167) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    As someone who's hosted over 70 beer fests and attended countless others, I'm well aware of what makes a great beer fest and that it's different for each attendee. But that was then. We're dealing with the now, which currently doesn't allow us to host beer fests IRL.
  34. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (4,021) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    That would be awesome!
    All of this sounds awesome - I like the color art backdrops for beer photos!
    thebeers and warrendietrich2001 like this.
  35. NYR-Zuuuuc

    NYR-Zuuuuc Disciple (336) Jan 1, 2013 Connecticut

    Access to beers you can't normally get. So maybe different "regional" box options. So maybe us East Coasters can get a box of West Coast stuff and vice versa. (Hint:Russian River).
  36. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (4,021) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    @Todd, one other thing I thought of - I'd love to see a BA virtual fest feature a beer or few from Black/minority/LGBTQ+ owned breweries. A place like 18th St. Brewery out of Hammond, IN comes to mind. Drew Fox would be a cool guy to have as a panelist and their beer is excellent.
    #36 FBarber, Jun 23, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
  37. beersampler6

    beersampler6 Poo-Bah (1,884) Apr 4, 2018 Michigan
    Society Trader

    That's a great idea, and would really encourage camaraderie and discussion within each chat room/forum/thread, I think.
    Skeeter17 likes this.
  38. beersampler6

    beersampler6 Poo-Bah (1,884) Apr 4, 2018 Michigan
    Society Trader

    Totally agree. Was just at 18th Street Brewery to try out their new offerings.
    FBarber likes this.
  39. socon67

    socon67 Poo-Bah (2,330) Jun 18, 2010 New York

    @Todd - If there was a "beer box" event with offerings that are hard to get normally (or even if the brewery did a limited run specifically for the virtual event), it would generate interest. I know I'd be interested in it and would have my local friends go in with me for such a purchase. If we are talking rares out of my distribution area; just tell me where to Venmo\PayPal....
    NYR-Zuuuuc and Todd like this.
  40. snaotheus

    snaotheus Poo-Bah (4,230) Oct 6, 2008 Washington

    My review of the Untappd virtual tasting experience:

    • I was glad that the tasting included styles I wouldn't normally go out of my way to get in addition to my favorites.
    • I loved having the brewer or founder talk us through the tasting (definitely preferable over other brewery employee or other industry rep)
    • I loved hearing the brewer answer questions.
    • I thought the chat function was so busy it was useless. I understand that it was used to gather questions, but I just closed that pane and ignored it. I would probably prefer to have conversations in smaller side channels, if I was going to do it at all.
    • I think the 5-6 beers in a session was reasonable (I shared with my wife).
    • I think the bits with the two jokesters in between beers were a bit hokey, but the time between beers is probably necessary.
      • Might have been nice to give a heads up like "tasting resumes in 10 minutes" or whatever, so if I wanted to ignore the jokesters and be back for the next brewer, I could do so
    • I was glad that I could go back and watch the recording after the fact, since I had schedule conflicts that made me miss part of one of the sessions.

    What I would like to see:
    • More options for sessions, maybe themed options based on locality, style, "best of" or something like that. A la carte, so I can opt in to the NE and the "beautiful classics" sessions, and opt out of the PNW and the "cinnamon syrup" session (although realistically, what are the chances of me opting out of any interesting beer experience that I can reasonably and responsibly enjoy)
    There's probably more, but that's what comes to mind.
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