It's already Beer Week season, at least around here. I've seen posts and articles about several, and in early June we'll experience Philly Beer Week as well, which once upon a time was one of my favorite weeks (week, hell - 11 days) of the year! It would come after my spring semester ended, just as the weather was turning reliably warm, and what would ensue was a daily stretch of interesting beer-related events and activities. It got to be part of the daily landscape: which event is today? Who's going to be there? And like the Olympics, it was long enough that you could be nostalgic at the end of it and think back, lo those two Fridays ago (if you're looking back from Sunday) when it all started...
The last couple of years, though...I don't know. It changed. It got too crowded - and I don't mean the people. Too many "events." It took some of the fun out of it for me.
My Perfect Beer Week Events
I get that not everyone shares my view of the world, but as a beer geek I have a certain loosely-defined list of things that make for a good, special "beer event." For example: I'm not impressed by a tap takeover, really. They can be fine, but in an age of beer trading and bottle shops and getting a Fijian beer at a local bar (hand to God), it just doesn't get me excited. Likewise, I don't know how much I really enjoy a "Meet the Brewer!" event, especially not on a weekend night.
And lately, at lots of beer weeks, in an effort (I assume) to bump up the total number of "events," that's what I'm seeing. "Hey, come by Al's Bar on Friday night and buy beer!" That's not really an "event." That's a product on offer for sale. Maybe getting to ask the brewer about it adds a little bit of interest, but it's not "special."
Instead, my advice to Beer Weeks is this: more games, science, and creativity.
Buying a beer is nice, but it's not particularly fun. Know what's fun? A contest to see who can dress up their Dachshund as their favorite beer bottle/can. A "beer trail" with punchcards that takes people on a historical tour of the city and prizes for people who complete it. Trivia (though my wife is known to exhibit something called "quiz rage," which is a sense of righteous anger at perceived unfairness or inaccuracy in trivia questions/answers/scoring). Make this fun - I can buy a beer anywhere.
I also want to learn things. Not the usual things - I know not every beer geek knows the basics of brewing, but those that don't probably don't want to bother learning, and the rest all do - no, give me something science-y and interesting. Steinbier brewing or solar brewing. A scatch-and-sniff hops class. Beers made without hops (and I don't mean gruit - I mean malt and yeast and water...no hops. It can be done!).
And I love a creative approach to a beer event, especially on location and timing. Give me an excuse to go to a new place, and hold more events outside of the usual happy hour/evening timeframe. It should feel special, unusual. Make it an event.
Those are my perfect beer week events.
Less is More
I think the moral of this story, from my perspective, is that the best beer week isn't the one with the most events - it's the one with the best events. If the idea is to promote beer culture in your town, city, or region, then less important than the number of people who attend are the number of people who hear about what happened and wished they had attended. You don't get that by having 256 "dollar-off" events. You might get it by having a beer slip-and-slide event down the hills of Manayunk.
Go for the less-is-more approach. Piling on tap takeovers and dollar-offs and beer brunches (actually, those are great, but maybe don't be cliched and do them on Sundays) makes it harder to find the good, high-impact events.
Just one guy's opinion.
Keep it simple.
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