July 22, 2013 by 250 Beers
Wow, I’m glad Beer Week is over for another year!
This isn’t because of the quantity of decent beer flowing throughout Brisbane and its surrounds. That was just brilliant. No, my gripe is politics. Forget Rudd and Gillard. Queensland had a rife underworld of political mess brewing throughout the duration of beer week.
To the untrained eye or to those members of the Brisbane public that weren’t aware of the shit fight, let me try to explain…
For me, it all started on Friday 12th July. I, as a beer drinker and beer enthusiast, headed to Archive for a few decent brews after work. I knew Ben Kraus from Beechworth’s Bridge Road Brewers was going to be there accompanied by a Bridge Road tap take-over. Awesome.
Now, the official Queensland Beer Week was yet to start – that was set for the day after. The Archive event was unofficial i.e. not part of Queensland Beer Week.
Put simply an official event was such because any venue hosting an official event had paid a sum of money to the organisers of Queensland Beer Week. Unofficial events were deemed part of Brisbane Beer Week or Craft Beer Week etc. There were a few different terms being used but not Queensland Beer Week as that would have been viewed by the officialdom as some sort of legal breach. Official events were published in a brochure and on the QLD Beer Week website.
Where was I? Ah, yes the Friday at Archive. A number of people approached me that evening (I don’t know why me?) and asked whether the event was official or not. This got me thinking….
There were obviously some people who had an idea that something was afoot. Quite a few major venues including Archive, Tippler’s Tap and The Embassy had decided not to be a part of the official set-up. When I got home that night I decided to use this blog as a platform to say this:
IT DOESN’T MATTER WHERE YOU ARE DRINKING BEER THIS WEEK AS LONG AS YOU’RE DRINKING GOOD BEER.
I was hinting that nobody should be worried whether the event they were attending was official or unofficial. JUST DRINK GOOD BEER.
What happened next was bizarre.
The next day, while the Queensland Home Brewing Conference was in full-swing, I got a phone call from the organiser of Queensland Beer Week. He wasn’t too happy that I’d promoted drinking in venues other than ones signed up to his quest to conquer the Sunshine State.
I drink where I want to and, until this country suggests otherwise, I’ll say what I want to as well.
The organiser suggested that I should be educating people as to why events had become unofficial and that these terrible places were “f*cking him over”.
I agreed to revisit what I’d written but half-way through I thought to myself “No, I don’t want to be bullied. I’ll remove the post entirely and write something more concise when the week is over.”
It was quite amusing that the day after that (Sunday 14th) I saw tweets from respected figures in the industry such as Matt Kirkegaard, editor of Brews News. He tweeted photos from an unofficial event at Archive that night. Now, Matt hosted a number of official events for QLD Beer Week. Quite rightly, Matt was doing whatever he wanted to do in his spare time. Do you reckon he received bullying phone calls the next day? I doubt it very much.
I was due to attend my first official event on Wednesday 17th. However, my plans were scuppered when BoO3 took hold.
On Thursday 18th I headed to Ipswich to be a part of 4 Hearts Brewing/Alehouse 24’s eight beers & eight courses (more on this awesomeness later in the week). This was the best value for money (unofficial) event for sure! $65 for all that food and drink! There were some official events that, for the same sum, would have bought me just three beers and nibbles.
Being the dabbler in social media that I am, I posted a photo of the funky beer menu on Instagram and Twitter. Within two minutes I had received a message from said organiser. I wasn’t alone. Others in the room had also received a similar message. What had irritated the organiser was that Alehouse 24 had used the QLD Beer Week logo on the menu. Whoops. A faux pas. An accident. They were being accused of ‘cashing in’ on the official QLD Beer Week when in fact to the best of my knowledge Wade Curtis from 4 Hearts had done all of the marketing himself plus the logo that we were all looking at was on a piece of paper appearing at an event that we had all already paid for. The logo had certainly not enticed us all there.
Having spoken to a large number of unofficial venue managers/owners it became clear that they couldn’t see the logic in paying out hefty sums of cash to somebody when they could quite easily fill their venues with ease and for less outlay. Whether it was during last week or not. They were right.
They couldn’t understand where all of their money was going to go. They were told that their cash would go into advertising, marketing and PR. Other than Facebook, Twitter and a small bit of Instagram, there wasn’t any advertising or marketing that I saw or heard of. Perhaps the lack of solidarity meant that the pot ran dry and no money was available for marketing? A ‘catch twenty two’?
It’s the lack of advertising that I feel contributed majorly to the poor ticket sales for official events, the selling-out of most unofficial events and the cancellation of one of the biggest events; the $95 per head Critics Choice Showcase Exclusive at Riverlife. It’s rumoured that just 15 tickets were sold.
One major craft beer website, The Crafty Pint, only listed a handful of events – some of which were not official. Surely, it would have been a good idea to really pump QLD Beer Week on one of the most prolific beer websites? Just a thought.
In the end, I only attended one official event despite drinking
heavilly responsibly for the whole week; that was Kegfest at the Pig ‘n’ Whistle (Riverside). I know many guys and girls that, working to a budget, attended more unofficial events than official. Sad but very true.
I’m not saying that the whole concept of Queensland Beer Week is a bad idea. I’m not trying to be a pain in the arse and I’m certainly not saying it was a waste of time. It’s a wonderful idea! I just think it was very disjointed. Not only did I have a hangover on Sunday but I was left with a very sour taste in my mouth and I hadn’t even gone near a Gueuze.
Last week Brisbane had never had it so good. Good, craft beer was everywhere. Everybody needs to build on that, pull TOGETHER and make 2014 better than this year’s Beer Week.