Microbreweries need to appear at as many events as they can afford to so to get in touch with people directly. It doesn’t always work when the product is just standing on the shelf, mostly because the big boys dominate fridge space, but also because most people are too scared to take the leap and try something new.
The ideal kind of event is the local market where the big brands won’t appear and we, as the promoters of craft beer, can get up close and personal. This last weekend, we joined a number of small breweries at the Blue Bird Garage Barrel & Brew, Beer & Wine Festival in Muizenberg. It’s an awesome venue and as it was our first event out Muizenberg way, we were very excited to have the chance of introducing the Camelthorn Brewing Company’s range of beers to the locals. But it wasn’t all plain sailing.
Microbreweries just don’t have the budget to give away beer. All the monies earned go back to the brewery where it’s used to make more beer, buy more bottles and keep the dedicated staff that give so much of themselves fed and with a roof over their heads. So when we arrive at an event and see that we have to provide free tasters to the public, alarm bells start ringing all the way back to the bank manager’s office.
We were told in our brief that we were going to be pouring tasters, as is usual at most events – we provide a small taster so that our customer who has already committed themselves to purchasing a beer can choose which beer they prefer. But, at the BBG B&B W&B Fest it was different. There was a R30 entrance fee which entitled you to free tasters from each of the breweries or wine farms represented – not bad value you’d say, but really bad business for us.
Customers were able to sample beer from Mitchell’s, Birkenhead, Napier, Darling, Boston, Camelthorn, as well as spirits from Wilderer and Jorgensen’s Distillery and wine from a whole host of wine farms. 15 suppliers were giving away free stock, and so, as a result, the only real sales happening at the event were the food vendors who were mass-feeding all the well-oiled folk who were really enjoying themselves. Wouldn’t you with free booze?
It was really an awesome market and there was a great vibe, but we just couldn’t afford to be there a second day as we wouldn’t have been able to recover the losses from the first day. A real pity and an opportunity lost.
So be aware if you are arranging an event, as in a market or a festival that will feature microbreweries and micro-distilleries, we will attend gladly and add to the atmosphere of the day, but none of us can afford to do it for free. And if we do have to give away stock, then reduce the stand fees, otherwise you’ll end up with pissed off traders and pissed customers. Neither of which are a good idea!