The day before the "inaugural" New Orleans International Beer Festival I felt it important to discuss why I don't usually go to beer festivals. I know, sounds like a dick thing to do but you'll understand. I promise. And hopefully agree. A lot of people have been asking if I will be attending tomorrow and are pretty shocked when I tell them no. Then they ask why.
I need to tread lightly here as I am friends with many of the people that put on the events/sponsor the events/donate or sell beer to the events and I promote their events every year. My intention here is not to bash any of the beer festivals that take place here in Louisiana but rather I hope to address what I don't like about the current culture of beer festivals here and what I think the future of beer festivals should be.
Since the New Orleans International Beer Festival is tomorrow we will pick on them. The price is $50. That's $40 plus the $10 you will pay in service fees to Ticketmaster. That's general admission. According to the website here is what that will get you: Souvenir 2-Ounce Sampling Mug, Full Color Festival Guide, Unlimited Sampling of 150+ Craft Beers, Live Entertainment, Games and access to the Samuel Adams Brew University Tent with Seminars such as Cooking with Beer, Brewing 101, Pairing Beer with Food and More! You can pay $75($85 after fees)for Zea VIP tickets which gives you: entrance into the Festival 1 Hour Early to Take Advantage of Exclusive Beer Tasting Experience, access to the VIP Lounge, exclusive Beer Selections Not Available to the General Admission Ticket Holders and complimentary Food from 2pm - 5pm plus all the other stuff you get for paying the commoners prices. And then, if you are responsible and have a designated driver they have to pay $20.
I don't know about you but $50 is a lot of money. Oh sure, I can afford it but the question is why would I want to pay it? Out of the 200 beers(not homebrewed) listed on their website there are only 12 I haven't had before. That means I have had 94% of the beers they are serving. Why would I pay $50 to try 12 beers? It just doesn't make sense. And in my opinion the designated driver should NEVER have to pay.
This goes for every beer festival that I have been to here in Louisiana. I can go for maybe 1 hour try a couple of beers and then I am done. If I'm lucky there are homebrews there or some of the local breweries have done something special on cask. And yes I know, not everyone has been able to try all those beers. But do you really think you will be able to try them all in 4 hours? Okay so maybe I shouldn't have said that because now some dumbass has just said, "Challenge Accepted." I heard it. Plus, if I want to bring my wife(who doesn't drink and is always my DD) I have to pay for her entrance as well. So now I am out another $20.
Anyway, events like this lead to people drinking until they puke or drinking so much they eventually puke then pass out. It certainly doesn't encourage responsible beer tasting. It creates more of a "I need to get my money's worth" attitude. I don't know about you but I can't stand being around drunk people. I'm not a big fan of crowds as is but now a crowd of drunk people. Ugh. Just thinking about it makes my skin crawl. In my opinion the beer festivals need to change their way of doing business.
Last year I experienced the future of beer festivals and it was awesome. New Orleans on Tap. A "pay as you drink" system. You buy tickets and trade your tickets for beer. And you can get two different sizes of beer. You just pay more tickets for a larger size. Genius. And they still had live entertainment and food available also. For someone like me this is perfect. I can buy $20 worth of tickets and have a great time and sample some great beers. Doesn't hurt my wallet and I don't feel the need to get my "moneys worth". Oh and my wife doesn't have to pay anything unless she wants food.
This is the future of beer festivals. And yes, I know it won't stop people from getting drunk and stupid but it may lessen that number and also may change people's perception of what a beer festival is for: the enjoyment of beer not the abuse of it. Let the Beer Buddha bashing begin.
The Beer Buddha