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How to Start a Beer Festival

If your restaurant, bar, or brewery is interested in starting a beer festival in your town, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and wondering where to start. There are many different things to consider when holding a beer festival. Where will you hold your event? How can you make it special or unique? How should you go about advertising the festival and selling tickets? What kind of equipment will you need on the day of the event? For the answers to these questions and helpful beer event ideas, keep reading our tips on how to start a beer festival.

Where Should You Hold Your Beer Festival?


Location, location, location! Choosing the perfect spot for your beer festival is very important. If you're holding the event during a warmer month, consider using a park, sports field, or air conditioned event center. If it's a colder time of year, you might choose a convention center, hotel, or indoor sports complex to keep attendees out of the elements. You'll also want to be aware of weather, and, if you hold an outdoor event, have a back-up plan ready in case it rains. Regardless, you should choose a high-traffic location that will draw the attention of passersby who don't already have tickets or know about the event.

One other thing: make sure you have plenty of bathrooms, as guests will be consuming lots of beer and won't want to wait in long restroom lines. Timing is also very important. You should always make sure your festival doesn't conflict with other events in the area, as this will negatively impact attendance.

Which Permits Do You Need for Your Beer Festival?

The amount of permits you'll need will vary based upon your state and town, but you'll probably need a temporary special event license. Additionally, you'll want to procure insurance that protects you against liability, should attendees be injured or choose to drink and drive. Special event licenses often limit the size or number of samples guests can consume, and some areas may also require you to serve food to counteract the effects of alcohol. Be sure to apply for permits well in advance, as securing them can be a very intricate and time-consuming process.

How Will You Sell Tickets to Your Beer Festival?

In addition to procuring licenses for your beer event, you'll also want to think about how you'll go about selling tickets. Choose a reliable ticketing service for attendees to purchase tickets ahead of time online or by phone, and decide whether guests will also be able to purchase tickets at the door.

Similarly, will you charge one flat fee, or will patrons pay per drink as they move from table to table? Charging a flat fee up front is usually your best bet, as it will slow down vendors if they have to make change or run credit cards for every guest. However, if the participating breweries disagree over what the flat fee should be, it's probably best to have patrons pay for each drink. You can also institute a voucher system where guests purchase tickets ahead of time and then exchange them for each beer.

How Will You Advertise Your Beer Festival?

When it comes to advertising your beer event, social media is your best bet. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms to get the word out, and you might also consider advertising in newspapers, magazines, and even on local radio or TV stations. Putting up fliers at bars, bottle shops, breweries, and brewpubs is also a great way to draw in beer enthusiasts.

You could also send an email blast to different beer aficionado groups and give away free tickets to drum up interest. Another great way to attract attendees is to partner with drinking apps, some of which promote nearby beer festivals or provide discount codes for participants. Also, decide whether your event is 21 and over only or if families are also welcome. This information should be clearly advertised ahead of time, as it will help patrons decide whether or not to attend.

What Supplies Do You Need for Your Beer Festival?

When the big day arrives, there are several important supplies you'll need to keep the beer flowing all day. First, if you're providing the beer yourself (rather than leaving that up to the breweries), you'll need several kegerators to keep beer cold and ready to serve. You'll also want to have plenty of beer sampler glasses on hand for patrons to carry from table to table.

To save money, provide each attendee with one sampler glass they'll use throughout the festival. Concurrently, make sure to set up plenty of rinsing stations throughout the event for them to clean their glass between samples. Depending on your preferences and expectations, you may also want to obtain chairs, tables, and tents.

What Should You Do on the Day of Your Beer Festival?

To increase sales, consider offering beer-related merchandise like t-shirts, glassware, and other memorabilia at your festival. You can also create a customized souvenir for guests to take home to remember the event. Another option is to employ musical acts and local food trucks to keep patrons entertained and full of delicious food.

If attendees can bring children, you might also want to include areas where they can play. Finally, make you and your staff available throughout the day to answer questions and accommodate any concerns your guests may have. Providing this level of service will improve your patrons' overall experience and increase the likelihood they'll visit your business in the future.

Holding a beer festival in your town is a great way to improve your business's visibility and profits, while also introducing attendees to beers they've never tried before. When planning your event, be sure to consider elements like venue, timing, advertising, permitting, tickets, and what to do on the day of the event. Addressing these questions beforehand is crucial to the success of your beer festival and will increase the chances of it becoming an annual event.

Posted in: Bar Supplies | By Nora Fulmer
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