Craft Brew News
(Courtesy of Brewbound.com)
Craft Beer Festivals Across the Country Go Virtual During COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered nearly every facet of life and commerce, but one particular area stands to be gutted more than almost any other: large scale events.
In the beer industry alone, event casualties are numerous. The Brewers Association has now canceled three of its marquee events, including the annual Craft Brewers Conference in San Antonio, Texas, SAVOR beer and food pairing event in Washington, D.C., and HomebrewCon in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Great American Beer Festival, the BA’s largest consumer-facing event and the largest beer festival and competition in the U.S., is still slated to take place September 24-27 in Denver, Colorado.
Popular regional beer festivals have also pulled the plug on their 2020 events, including the Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland, Oregon, Bend Brewfest in Bend, Oregon, and Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, Wisconsin.
Without its annual mid-May Oklahoma Craft Beer Summit — a reliable fundraiser — the Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma (CBOA) was facing a potential loss of thousands of dollars. A creative solution was needed.
CBOA treasurer and COOP Ale Works director of sales and marketing Sean Mossman told Brewbound. “Just one day, kind of organically, it was like, ‘Hey, what if we move this online? What if we made this virtual?’” “Well, that would be cool, but then it’s just a conversation — how do we do beer? How do we make this a beer festival?”
The Oklahoma Craft Beer Summit ’20 Quarantine Edition was born and planned in about a week, with the blessing of the Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement (ABLE) Commission of Oklahoma, Mossman said.
Tickets for the sold-out virtual festival on May 15 came with a plethora of beers to sample and an evening of guided tastings and panel discussions about styles, brewing and the beer industry.
Guests purchased tickets that included a kit of 24 beers from breweries across Oklahoma. Kits could be retrieved at designated pickup locations strategically placed across the state, where IDs would be checked against tickets, a provision of the ABLE Commission.
With the help of sponsors and “monstrously low overhead,” Mossman said the virtual festival has helped the CBOA raise multiple times more money than a traditional in-person festival.
“We’re spending about $3,000 to raise about $50,000, so we’re pretty fortunate,” he said. “This would take us probably three festivals to generate this much revenue. And really, our only real expense as a guild is probably our lobbyists at the Capitol. We’re pretty self-governed and self-run, but that is our biggest expense, and it’s the most necessary expense.”
Untappd will also host a virtual beer festival online on June 13 and 14.
Participants have the option of two experiences — one with beer shipped to them and one in which they purchase their own. The Drinking Socially Package costs $89.99 and includes 11 beers to samples during two virtual panels, $10 gift cards to the Untappd merchandise store and Half Time Beverage, the event’s retail partner and beer shipper. Beer packages can be shipped to ZIP codes in 28 states and Washington, D.C., according to local laws.
The Stay at Home Stream package costs $15 and includes access to the virtual panels and is available everywhere.
A portion of sales from both tickets will be donated to the Restaurant Strong Fund, which supports out-of-work service industry employees.
Harpoon Brewery’s annual five-mile road race has taken runners through the streets of the brewery’s Boston neighborhood for 18 years, but this weekend, the 19th edition of the fundraising race will be virtual.
The company’s website said “Run, walk, pushrim,...