Monday, February 15, 2010

The 2010 Oregon Brewers Festival Sponsorship and Advertising Kit

Please go here to read and download the guide to all things sponsorship related at Oregon Brewers Festival.


Beer Brands

This is yet another shout out to Jeff Alworth at Beervana for his ongoing series of "dissections" of local beer brands. I don't always agree with his analysis, but he is certainly doing interesting work. His usual focus on beer styles and reviews now has a business-oriented complement.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Topsy Turvy

If Gilbert and Sullivan were to write a musical about brewers festivals, it might reference the recently concluded Skamania Lodge in house beer fest. Jeff Alworth over at Beervana has an extended write up. Go there if you want to know about the beers and the setting.

An issue that he raises is the nature of beer festivals. He rightly notes that the Oregon Brewers Festival was started to promote Oregon craft beers, a crucial boost to getting folks to try these new fangled brews. In 1988, most people were drinking the big boys beers and had not heard of much less tasted a craft beer.
What Alworth is saying or at least proposing is that festivals have evolved and are now numerous. He adds that this particular one may have been about promoting the destination rather than the beer.

I couldn't agree more and it speaks to the maturation of the industry that the craft beer "brand" is a significant enough draw with a significant enough following to bring people to a place that needs to fill beds.
There's nothing new about putting good food and drink on the table and attracting folks to it. What is different is exploiting a particular type of combination, craft beer + "festival" to fill the seats.

The OBF can take some credit here, but many other festivals have proven to be good "products" that can be used as a lever to bring people in to consume other products. No wonder the OBF turns away more vendors every year who want to sell stuff to festival goers. (Not that we don't want our vendors there, but there is a limit to the real estate.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is it a stunt or another approach to authentic brewing?

The following video represents one of the more ambitious and expensive ways to create a unique beer. It is also a publicity stunt worthy of P.T. Barnum. I say that with great respect.

Here is a very limited release of a beer that sells for the equivalent of $26 USD, though most folks will never have the opportunity to spend that much on it. With just 960 bottles produced, don't look for it in the aisles of the local Fred Meyer.

Jeff Alworth at Beervana has already discussed this brewery and this beer, so I'll leave you in his far more able hands when it comes to taste and style.

This is perhaps the most vivid, and perhaps expensive and dangerous, promotion of a craft beer that I've seen. Interesting that just a few years ago, the Oregon Brewers Festival considered bringing the festival-opening keg up the Willamette River on a sailboat. In that case, as in the case of BrewDog, it was all about the publicity, not authenticity.

Regardless, three cheers to BrewDog for lifting our spirits.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Origin of the species

GABF may be open and running. Biketobeerfest has come and gone. But, the progenitor of all things beer festival(y) kicked off, or tapped on, this past Saturday. Oktoberfest started pouring beer and the oompahs and prosts can be heard nearly across the Atlantic. Thanks to the web, we can experience it visually or virtually or whatever. For some fine, iconic photos of the event, go here.

Oktoberfest revelers consume six (6) million liters of beer at the two week festival. That's about 50,000 barrels of beer or 100,000 kegs, depending upon how you like to count. There are few craft breweries in this country that reach that level of production in a year much less sell that much in two weeks. It's an impressive number.

The festival draws six million visitors from around the world, though one imagines that as many Muenchers abandon their lovely city to avoid the carnival as stay to enjoy the riot. Regardless, Oktoberfest is a touchstone for those of us in the beer festival business.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

HUB Biketobeerfest 2009 a delicious success

Hopworks Urban Brewery put together two wonderful crafts: brewing and bicycles. The event, held at the brewery on Saturday, September 19, was well attended without being overrun. No problems getting a beer, unless you spent the extra time in the line where the beer was being served from the Hopworksfiets mobile tap. (See the Photostream and links).

The official blurb can be found here, but the real celebration is the fusion of craftsmanship in two related industries. The connections are obvious. Craft beer and bicycle building are one part science and one part art. Beer is a social beverage and bicyclists have bonds of camaraderie along with many social connections, a sort of "we're all in this together." And, nothing refreshes quite like a good beer after a long bike ride.

But beyond these connections, why put these two industries together? From a promotional standpoint, especially in sudsy Portland, the need for local brewers to differentiate and rise above others is essential. This is not to say that HUB does not have excellent beers that can stand on their own, but they also know that they need to be noticed and get people to the brewery. Frankly, I had never been there even though it is a short bike ride, you can drive if you must, away.

In aligning themselves as craftsman with malt and hops with the craftsman of steel and brazing torch, they have signaled to the market and thirsty consumers that they are serious about quality. One only had to walk through the exhibit of beautiful, locally made bikes to see that. And, the Hopworksfiets custom cargo bike has created a sensation so great that when Dave Barry blogged about it, it nearly took down for the count. Such is the power of social media.

The event wasn't all serious craftsmanship, though. There were plenty of games and music and, of course, the incomparable Sprockettes provided their brand of circus and dance.

As a festival, the event succeeded for the guests. As a promotional event for Hopworks Urban Brewery, I cannot believe that they will not reap many rewards. Oh, and the beer was good, too.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A well worn path

It has become commonplace for chefs to write cookbooks. The routine goes something like this: chef opens restaurant, chef builds loyal clientele, chef "writes" cookbook that expands upon or documents his or her recipes enjoyed by customers. Rinse and repeat.

While my tone may be somewhat flippant, there are many examples of this practice. I am staring at Coyote Cafe by Mark Miller right now. The book is 20 years old and is published by 10 Speed Press, a house that seems to specialize in this genre. These books are really quite useful. Readers learn how a chef approaches recipe and meal development, learns a thing or two about preparing favorite dishes and, no surprise, the chef cements, or intends to cement, his or her place in the cooking pantheon.

In a move that seems to piggyback on this approach, a troika of local beer writers and a brewer are proposing a book of recipes from the local scene, Recipes from Beervana.

One complaint often voiced by a minority of beer aficionados is that Portland, and other craft brew havens, lacks a serious and consistent approach to food and beer pairing. It's not clear that the authors of the proposed book intend to uncover this truth or debunk it. The blurb on Facebook reads, Follow Mike DeKalb, owner of Laurelwood Brewing Co., Lisa Morrison, the Beer Goddess and Annalou Vincent, of Beer NW, as they trek across the Pacific Northwest in search of Recipes from Beervana! Then look for the book in Spring 2010 and get ready to get cookin'!

What is interesting about their approach, though perhaps not unique either, is that they are asking us to follow them in social media as they explore the many possibilities for food and beer. Will this interactive approach seek commentary from those who follow? Will their editorial choices be steered by their community of followers? Wait and see.