Monday, July 05, 2010

Philly Beer Week 2010: Contemplations, Conversations, Ruminations, and an occasional Diatribe: Part 10

(This is the last in a series of ten installments documenting both my time during Philly Beer Week 2010 and insights provided to me by customers, importers/distributors/representatives, brewers, brewery owners, publicans, et cetera. All of whom wanted their comments to be aired, but very few who wanted their name associated with them. Some of you may not appreciate the anonymity, but that's the way it needs to be if we're going to talk about these things around here. You'll need to trust in me that I've gathered up all of these notes and opinions during PBW '10 and am sharing them with you in order to continue the conversation about what will make a better Philly Beer Week 2011.) Click back to see the nine point fifth in the series. Philly Beer Week 2010 was a qualified success. In some forums, the death of PBW was greatly exaggerated...but still it does have a little cold that needs to be treated. There have been reports of canceled events, scaled-back events, reduced-price events, and under-attended events. Does this speak to market saturation, poor calendar scheduling, too many events, consumer indifference, some or all of the above? No matter, in preparation for next year's Philly Beer Week, some advised rethinking will need to take place. I and others have wondered out loud whether we "really need Philly Beer Week." My ideas on this subject became a bit clearer this year. Since the Philadelphia region has long been established as one of the country's top beer destinations, it could be easy to argue that we don't really need ten days to focus attention on it. Or maybe it is just that which is the point. But, it's really not that easy. I, as well as many others that I spoke with during this year's PBW, were fond of saying that we were anxious for PBW '10 to conclude so that we can get to back to the other 50.5 weeks of annual beer appreciation that we normally engage in. A focus on drinking more heavily for ten days than usual is probably not what is healthiest--either literally or figuratively--for the beer geek extreme of which I and many of you are part. But, as long as craft beer occupies such a small (albeit, growing) minority of the malted barley beverage market, it probably still is a worthwhile endeavor to throw together a quality set of events to help draw attention to the merits of our local beer scene to the less- and un-initiated. With a fine tuning of events and target market demographics, Philly Beer Week can continue to serve a meaningful purpose in a region whose year-round calendar boasts some of the best that the craft beer industry has to offer. Then, too, of course, it's just plain ol' fashioned good fun to have a period of the year when we celebrate everything that is good about the Philly Beer Landscape without subjecting it to analysis paralysis as some of you no doubt think I may have done over the past couple of weeks in this Series. So, have at it. There's been a lot of material from different angles that I've shared over the past ten days. I hope that everyone can understand the need for confidentiality in anonymous sources. Typically, I don't look so favorably upon those who anonymously post comments and whatnot. In this case, however, it became more important in order to facilitate this conversation as part of the wrap-up to Philly Beer Week 2010. For what it's worth, the number of private emails and comments that I've received both on-line and in-person thanking me and congratulating me for helping to air some of the most sensitive feedback from PBW '10 have convinced me that I've taken the proper approach in the last 10.5 installment of this Series. Remember, I have very little to no "skin" in all of this; this has been some of the feedback from conversations during PBW '10 from "players" in the industry many of whom, up until this point, have felt too uncomfortable to either address their concerns directly or on-the-record. Have they taken the proper approach in addressing their concerns with me in this forum? Have I, in turn, acted judiciously? Hard to say; but, so far my answers would be 'maybe' and 'yes' and that overall I've no regrets. I can only hope, given my five year track record around here, that you can agree as well. If you haven't commented as of yet, feel free to unleash at this point. Philly Beer Week needs to hear from all of you, consumers included. I can't do this without you :) Your thoughts, if you will? Next up...back to business as usual at The Brew Lounge with some good news about Victory's Summer Love Ale.

2 comments:

dave said...

A wrap up or recap in this fashion I've never seen before when it comes to Philly Beer Week. So right off the bat , great Idea Bryan!Have to say say that in alot of ways this year seemed to be more of a building year, but in line with this installment I think your right in that this region has become such a top notch beer support system year round that to try to step it up a notch even for 10 days ain't easy.You also can't deny that the march timeframe where everyone is crawling out of their winter hibernations and ready to explore for sustinance worked well. One thing most craft beer drinkers are is patient. You can't push the consumer, you invite .I like to meet the brewer just as much as the next guy but really he just wants me to come out and enjoy so if you make it inviting I'm quite happy to meet the server. Overall you can stamp this year a success in my book.

andrew said...

What I'd really like to see next year is for brewers (especially local brewers) to release new beers to coincide with PBW. With so many great beer bars in Philly serving a full selection year-round, I felt very little reason to brave the crowds to drink something I could get the next week far more easily. Beer specials would also be appreciated, as would 1oz samples of the event's highlight beer (if applicable).

Meet the Brewer events are always welcome, as were the one-off events--oak-aged, dry-hopped, and other variants of some of my favorites.

So many of the events just seemed to be excuses to market beer rather than raise the appreciation... In that case, I voted with my feet by avoiding those.