DIY Beer Fest
Capitalise on the craft beer trend and run your own mini beer festival! It’s a great way to market your business, promote cask beers, generate additional income and win new customers.
Euan Watkins from Hearth of the Ram in Ramsbottom, Lancashire will be running his third beer festival over the August bank holiday. Not only do his festivals get better and more profitable each year, he’s found that they put him on the map as a drinkers’ destination. Says Euan, “With experience you get better at putting on a festival. My advice is to get the three main elements right: food, drink and music, and understand that a lot of planning is needed and that they are a big commitment. As a free house, we’ve found that festivals have increased trade at other times as people realise we serve cask ales all the time in the restaurant.”
Hop to it
Pick your date carefully. Bank holidays are good, especially the summer ones as the warmer weather always brings out the punters. Or tag it onto the back of a national festival or event. The Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) is held in London on the 12-16 August, while Cask Ale Week runs from 25 September to 5 October. You could plan further ahead and time your festival to coincide with the National Winter Ales Festival (NWAF) in February.
Most beer festivals are outdoor events, so you can use your outside areas and generate additional income. You’ll need to consider parking, whether or not you need shelter such as a marquee – in case it rains – and additional toilet facilities. A-Cask, beer equipment specialists, suggest that you consider how many serving counters you’ll need, how many staff, plus cooling equipment, taps, and drip trays – all of which can be rented from them.
Ales to stock
The Cask Marque association suggests serving approximately 20 ales – with a range of ABVs, colours and styles so that you can appeal to every palate. It also suggests having a beer-request book or a facility via social media that lets customers request beers in the lead up to the festival and you have the time to stock the most requested ales.
A good menu not only helps soak up the beer, it also provides extra revenue. Keep your offering simple and go for a hog roast or BBQ as finger foods let drinkers keep a full glass in their other hand!
Music is key – especially a band. Check you have the correct entertainment licenses in place. If you want your beer fest it to be a family affair, organise face painting, a bouncy castle (if you have room) or kids’ entertainers.
Create posters for your venue, advertise inhouse on chalk boards and use all of your social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook to spread the word – the earlier the better! If you are syncing your fest with Cask Ale Week, you can register your event for free on its website www.caskaleweek.co.uk.