Real Ales and craft beer continue to grow in popularity, with an estimated 1500 craft breweries in the UK alone. The sampling of micro-brewed beers has led to a rise in beer festivals which are a great way to raise awareness, attract new customers and drive sales over the summer months. Get it right and you’ll have punters and breweries begging you to make this at least an annual event.
If you are considering hosting a beer festival, whether for hundreds or people or a couple of score, you want to be sure to offer the best experience. Here we offer some great tips to make sure that when you host a beer festival, it will stand out and drinkers will be returning for more.
The best date
Try and coincide the hosting of your festival with a key date, such as a Bank Holiday when people have more free time and will be looking for things to do. Check that your festival doesn’t clash with anything else of significance in the local community.
The best beer
To be a successful beer festival host, you will need to work hard to get the best quality of beer. If you are a brewery controlled pub then you will need to discuss what they have to offer first. If you are not tied to a brewery, research local brewers with a good reputation. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is the accepted authority of all things UK beer related, so start your search there.
It is also important to offer a wide range of beers, irrespective of what your personal opinion is about what might sell well. Add to your list everything from Stouts to Pale Ales. Add fruity beers, apple and pear ciders and some international imported beers.
You also need to consider the ABV of the beer. The rise in popularity of ale means you will be hosting more people that drink 3.8-4.1 percent beverages more often, yet for the widest appeal you must offer something from each end of the spectrum.
Festival goers understand that it costs money to organise a beer festival, but consider your entrance fee carefully. It’s much easier to sell tickets when the beer on offer is at a good price and you offer food and entertainment as part of the entrance fee. Always price for worse-case scenario and ensure you get a return on your investment.
You have different options when it comes to the pricing of the beer on sale at the festival. You can offer 3 one-third pints of different beers included in the entrance fee. You could have a blanket price for a range of higher ABV beers and another for lower ABV beers to keep things simple for the punters and the bar staff. If you are going to include an offer to buy 5 pints and get the 6th free, ensure you factor those free pints into your pricing.
Whether you are hosting your festival outdoors in a marquee or in a pub, entertainment is always a good idea. It’s worth noting that it has been proven that people drink more as a result of listening to live or loud music.
With beer lovers ranging from 18 to 80 it’s best to have music from a number of decades, or at least tunes that everyone can enjoy and won’t have them running for the exit. Do what you can to win the PR battle with neighbours so that they are on-board from the start.
Promoting your beer festival
Start promoting your event at least a month before the festival. Connect with your audience through social media. Capture the younger market with a showcase of your festival, with pictures and a write-up of what beers are on offer. Regular Facebook, Instagram and Twitter updates before, during and after the festival also work well and allow you to answer questions. An advert in the local paper or writing on your pub’s chalk board are staples not to be ignored, but also ask local media if they would be interested in covering the event.
Breweries will have put a lot of work into supporting your festival, so give something back at the end. Have awards for the most popular drink, most inventive drink and best brewery. This will be good for brand image and will encourage them to join you at your next festival.
A good host provides food, and it also keeps people spending money. Consider putting together a menu which links each of your beers with a dish on your menu for some food matching. If you are in a pub, you may already serve steak and ale pie and fish and chips. For something completely different, try a hog roast.