Utah Brewery Map

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fest Fix?

Depending on who you talk to, last Saturday's beer festival was a huge success or a major disaster. The public's desire for good local beer was evident. Last minute ticket sales exploded leaving event organizer a bit overwhelmed.

The major problem was too many people not having access to the beer they paid big money for. In my opinion this has nothing to do with lack of planning; it's a simple numbers game.

The Wasatch Front is approximately the 30th largest market in the United States. As of 2008 Utah was ranked 24th in breweries per capita. This ranking has surely gone up with the addition of two new breweries this year. While that's a lot of breweries compared with more than half of the country, a festival like this, for a market of our size frankly needs more participating breweries to accommodate all the people.

It's tough in this regard because our beer laws don't really make it easy for out of state breweries to participate locally because of the whole "kegs vs high alcohol beer thing".

There are no easy fixes, just trial and error to find the best scenario for our area. I've been to more than my fair share of beer festivals around the country, and I've seen what works and what doesn't. I'm not going to try to "Monday Morning Quarterback" this thing because I just don't have all the info. But your constructive feed back will go a long way to make each attempt better and better.

Also, today Hoppers should be releasing their Stein Knockers Märzen today. If you got to the fest early enough you were able to get a early sample. Once again, Brewmaster/Secret Agent Donovan Steele Rocked-it!



Anonymous said...


I saw you at the fest, but you were behind the bar taking photos and looked pretty busy, so I let you be.

Anyway, as for criticism, I truly loved the Fest. It was great to see the huge crowed of people and talk with all the great brewers. With that being said, the lines were foolishly long for a few hours there. The first hour and the last couple hours were perfect, I'd wait 5 minutes or so to get a sample. I waited 35 minutes to get a sample from Shades of Pale during the peak time... That is too much.

You're right about there needing to be more brewers at the fest. I also think having multiple tents spread about would serve to lessen the lines, as well as a couple pour locations per brewer. And that damned keg VS bottle thing. Crocked Line and Epic could have poured twice as fast and had 100th as much garbage if they could serve from a keg.

There were a couple times I'd ask someone what we were in line for and they had no clue. I really think the multiple tent/location plan would help that out a lot.

Anyway, I had a blast and I am sooo glad I stayed 'til the end as the last hour or two was perfect. All the people who were complaining about the long lines had gone home and it was just the beer lovers (and drunks) who were left.


Carlos said...

Ricky basically said everything I was going to say. The only other thing I'd mention (and this is pretty typical of things I've run into before) is the line to get through the door took way too long. I got there at 1:00 (I wanted to be there earlier, but others weren't as motivated), and the line was already backed up to 2nd East.

More pourers per brewer and perhaps more tents would be nice. Also, not backing up the tent into a corner might make getting around a little easier.

Anonymous said...

I support the idea of this fest but, it was really huge disaster! Trying to minimize the screw up that was this even by calling it a numbers game is a bit outrageous to me. The organizers did not plan correctly. It is as simple as that, had they planned correctly the first thing they would have done is known how many people they could accommodate and have limited admittance to that number. There was clearly no planning of that sort done at all.

kent said...

Ricky and Carlos nailed it.

I posted some feedback in the other thread but it was basically what's already been said. The people I brought even the DD (wife) said they had a good time and would come back next year in a heart beat.

As far as the entry line I'd also add that people having to go into the will-call/DD ticket line and then go back into the ticket holder line caused some consternation. Allowing those coming off the ticket booth to merge into the entry would probably have saved some headaches.

I think that half of the block was plenty of space if the brewer tents could be spread out. The food corner was largely empty most of the time.

Finally I'd add some sort of sign-age on the tops of the tents. A flag or something to make it easier to distinguish them. Once the line got very long it was difficult to see who was who.

I once again need to commend Donovan and Hoppers. That Stein Knocker was just fantastic. I could drink that one all day long.

Anonymous said...


I like your idea! Multiple entry points would have made getting into the Fest a lot better prospect. Ricky, you also have some great ideas. I also agree that splitting up the beer tent would have made for a smoother event. I am so happy there was such a public interest in the festival. The more responsible beer drinking that occurs, the better for everyone.

I will throw out another suggestion. How about time sessions? If they could take half of the people that were there at the busiest time, and told them your ticket is good from 1 to 3:30; and the other half good from 4:00 to 6:30, that might have been better for all. Each person still has as much access to all the beer, but you do not have to wait in such long meandering lines.

Kudos to the breweries for bringing the big guns with the super premium beer. I was so happy to tried all of the Crooked line, as well as Hell's Keep. Those are pricey bottles. I particularly liked the Labyrinth and Cockeyed Copper.

I will also be at the Second Annual Salt Lake City Beerfest!


Michael said...

"First Annual" probably says it all and the fact that folks in the community are now providing input both positive and negative will probably help to make next year's event that much better.

Anonymous said...

maybe our legislators could take this high demand as a queue to revise our outdated and archaic liquor laws. maybe let us be grown ups for a change, and stimulate the economy to boot... just wishful thinking, I'm sure.

chels said...

I was disappointed since this was a numbers game. If you let in X amount of people and only have X amount of servers and lines, obviously the lines are going to get really long. I think there are many changes that need to be made before next year. My family and I commented to each other more than once, has anyone at city weekly been to a beer festival before? The setup was bizarre and an obvious recipe for disaster.

I was at the festival at one, thank god, and was happy that i got to taste everything I really wanted to before the huge lines formed. That being said I was bummed that friends who were planning to come at 3 couldn't even get in!

Although I agree that there just needs to be more beer, working in the current constraints I think they still could turn out a better festival next year. The tent formation was just terrible. At other festivals I've been to the people are on the inside of a large square of tents and food vendors. This way you can see what there is from pretty much anywhere and by breaking up the beer lines with food lines you can tell what you are actually in line for (not to mention it encourages people to buy food!) I would also think that maybe there should be more than one table per brewery since we are limited on the number of breweries willing to come. If say there were 2 tables serving Epic on opposite sides of the tent row I wouldn't have had to wait 30 mins to get a barely 3oz sample. Maybe they serve the same thing at each tent, maybe they break up their brews into 2 tents. This would also help the breweries serving several beers. It seemed like the tables for the 3 beer breweries were the same size as the breweries serving 5+. If you are going to sell tickets to that size of crowd you have to develop more lines one way or the other.

I'm willing to give it another try but I want to hear that they've made a better plan $35 is a lot to throw down for line limited sample

Anonymous said...

As mentioned previously...I would spread the beer tents out for better access. Other than that, it was a great time...great beer...great food! I, and the others who attended with me, will return next year. Highlights, for me, were the offerings from Epic, Crooked Line, and 4+. Honorable mention to Shades of Pale for their Espresso Stout.


Anonymous said...

Everybody had great points but a few things were left out, first not being able to prepay for DD tickets and second there were no pre-established lines it was kind of free for all,though it did work well until people realized that could get their beer and stay in line and got another sample or they simply just butted in line. That all been said I had a blast and hope they will take these suggestions make next years even better. See you all there next year and the many years to come

Yours truely,