First of all, I had a great time at Beans and Brews last night. Everyone who came to share and taste beer was friendly and pleasant. That said, the event could have been planned much better. There were organizational problems last year, but it was the first time the event was held and I had high hopes that they would be resolved this year. Some were, mainly the fact that it was announced a couple months ahead, giving time to prepare beer specifically for the event and plan to be there.
Last year, the event wasn’t announced until three weeks before it happened. Considering that they asked all participants to provide almost a full batch of beer to serve, that is just not practical. Three weeks is not enough time to go from grain to glass in almost any beer, even if you brewed the day it was announced. As a result, I entered not the beer I was most proud of, but whatever was not getting drunk.
Announcing the event in a more timely fashion this year resulted in a lot more entries. It is great to have more people and more competition, but the organizers didn’t plan for this and were unprepared to judge the number of entries they got. They changed the judging date and emailed the new information to entrants. They failed to update their website or Facebook page to reflect the changes, and in fact attached a file with the old information in the same email that announced the changes. I’m not sure why the file was included, but it added a great deal to the confusion. I was still under the impression that the old date was being used and did not get my beers in to be judged.
There was still the Taster’s Choice award, though. Last year, upon buying your ticket to the event, you received several votes for the Taster’s Choice competition. This year, you had to buy votes in addition to the $16 entry fee. The price seems steep and again, there were organizational problems.
You could buy $10 tickets for either beer or chili, or pay $16 for both. If you bought a ticket for beer, you got a wristband, otherwise you did not. There was no way to differentiate between people who bought tickets just for beer and people who bought tickets for both. I heard at least a few people who caught on to this and saved themselves $6. An outdoor event held in March is not conducive to checking wristbands, anyway and I doubt many people were asked to pull up their coat sleeves to show that they belonged there.
I’m pretty sure the whole notion of selling tickets exclusively for the opportunity to drink homebrew is illegal, to be honest.
All of these problems could be resolved (with the possible exception of the legality) if the planners were easier to work with. Last year, upon voicing my concerns about being able to provide homebrew for an event taking place on three weeks after it was announced, the replies from the organizers seemed very confrontational. I am not the only person to have this issue.
I don’t want to be too negative, because I had a great time. Homebrewers are used to taking less than ideal situations and making the best of it and this is a great example of that. I’m still debating if I’ll participate next year. After the frustration of missing out on the judging, before the event, I was dead set that this would be my last year, but I had too much fun to not at least consider it. My Berliner Weisse was extremely well received by other homebrewers and the raspberry version got rave reviews from people who said they don’t normally like fruit beers. What I’ve learned, I guess is that I really need to join a homebrew club.