When taking on the challenging task of planning and putting together a big beer event, take some advice from Andy Sparhawk, an expert Craft Beer Program Coordinator at Brewers Association. He offers tips that will help you and your planning team deal with the less glamorous tasks associated with organizing beer events to ensure safety and fun for all attendees.
1. Ask as many questions as possible.
When working with your venue and the surrounding area, the process of obtaining licenses and permits can become a bit of a hassle. Andy emphasizes the importance of taking care of all the nit-picky and not-so-fun tasks first in order to reduce stress and last-minute panic. “Something unexpected is almost always going to occur, so you want as much time to adjust as possible.” Andy’s solution to figuring out those problems or snafus ASAP is to ask lots of questions. Not only will you be able to figure out the true scope of the project sooner, but external contributors will appreciate your up-front and determined attitude toward your work. By witnessing your drive and positive attitude, others will feel more motivated to work with and help you if there are issues down the line.
2. Don’t overlook safety.
Not only is it imperative to have security and a medical staff readily available, Andy expands on this tip by suggesting that you have your staff act as “negotiators”. “When dealing with trouble, my volunteer and security staff is able to handle issues as soon as they come up without much drama.” When a problem arises or a guest starts misbehaving, assertive communication and quick, smart decision-making can resolve an issue without having to call the city police. However, Andy does suggest that event planners communicate with the local fire department and other local safe organizations prior to the event to ensure quality backup support.
3. Curb overindulgence.
When food is involved, the chance of someone having an alcohol-induced sickness significantly decreases. Another strategy to prevent binge drinking is to provide complimentary water and lots of it. In terms of serving alcohol, Andy suggests small pours, which encourages guests to enjoy the art of taste testing instead of chugging as quickly as possible. This will help limit the amount served and inhibit overindulgence. His final bit of advice in this category is to take one paid ticket at the door, instead of keeping track of tokens or similar exchange pieces. Problems tend to arise when guests that aren’t inclined to taste test give their tokens to a friend who is much more enthusiastic. Although this is done in the spirit of generosity, it negates the safety purpose of distributing tokens in the first place.
4. Build relationships with your brewers.
“Engage all year long.” The number one way to ensure that your event never goes out of style is to build strong relationships with people that provide significant value at your event. When you show respect toward those people, a lot of great things happen: you foster a close community, add value to the product you’re selling, and engage a broader audience. When you create an environment that makes people feel like they belong, then you know your event is a success. Remember the wise words of Anthony J. D’Angelo, “Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.” So, care about your vendors, security team, volunteers, and guests alike; no matter how long you deliberate over details and logistics, without these people your event is not truly an event.
Be sure to check out Brewers Association. They’ve got loads of business tools and best practices related to craft beer!