The Full Bar - all my pages

Monday, March 17, 2008

Philly Beer Week: After-action report

I'd like to know: what is your evaluation of Philly Beer Week?
Were there enough events? Too many events? Did you expect events that you didn't see: maybe breweries or venues missing, types of events, pet ideas you have?

How about event pricing: too high, about right? Did you prefer ticketed events so you know how much you were spending going in, or the pay-as-you-go events?

Was there enough publicity, early enough to plan your trip, or was it hard to find out what was going on?

Did any of you travel more than 50 miles? Did you stay over? Would you do it again next year?

Did Philly show you a good time? Were people friendly, was the food good, was the beer excellent?

What can we do better next year? What should we drop, and not do next year?

Please feel free to either comment or e-mail me with responses.

Thanks to everyone who came out for these events, and who helped make this very first Philly Beer Week such a success!


TC said...

I thought PBW went outstandingly. I didn't get to nearly as many events as I would have liked (stupid new job), but what I went to was largely a blast. There were so many events that I think there was something for just about everyone. I couldn't really afford a lot of the ticketed events (sniff... like the Real Ale Festival), but there were plenty of Pay As You Go happenings that were a joy to attend.

I find it difficult to come up with any widespread flaws with PBW. Some of the events weren't perfect, suffering from a touch of overcrowding, but that's to be expected. What I'd love to see for next year is more of the little bars getting into it. The corner bars in Fishtown and such. I wouldn't expect them to have the $50 dinners, but I'd love to see them add their own unique contests and events to the mix. Things like the Beer Chili Cookoff at the Khyber could be done anywhere, and I hope that next year, it will be.

Pete LaVerghetta said...

Sorry that I didn't make it to more events, particularly the wheat beer breakfast at the Grey Lodge which is practically my neighborhood bar.

The dim sum event at Fork was fantastic, possibly one of the largest value for the money experiences I've ever had. Most enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

Lew, I thought the Radio Times interview was great--definitely keep hitting the press early and often to get the word out. I loved the Meet the Brewers nights, and was a fan of the PAYG events. Some of the dinners were starting to get a bit pricey (couldn't restaurants under-price them and write off the difference as a charitable donation to Philly Beer Week?) The Brewer's Plate and the Craft Brew Fest were integral, though, and well worth the price of admission.

But free events are needed too! The final beer run put together by Bryan Kolesar and Suzy Woods was great--it was free and Dock St chipped in pizza at the end! Maybe focus on the community involvement aspect more as well--a community cleanup followed by a happy hour sponsored by neighborhood bars...

Philly Beer Club has some ideas we started kicking around that we're hoping will come to fruition next year. In the meantime, a few weeks of recovery are in order before we dive back in to appreciating all that is beer.
Thanks again for doing your part to make Philly Beer Week a reality. Cheers!

Lew Bryson said...


Actually, you need a mix of low and high-priced events, along with the PAYG events. The higher-priced events often reflect the different food and beer costs, they are naturally more attractive to the restaurants, who are a VITAL part of PBW's success (you can't really expect or ask a restaurant to write off costs that regularly; most beer dinners, even the pricey ones, are break-even at best), and, well, there are evidently plenty of people willing to pay the price.

The idea of more FREE events, now...that's a good one, and one I can see someone like Philadelphia Brewing picking up on, especially the community service idea. Might see some brewing demonstrations (Starr Hill used to do an open brew day once a month in Charlottesville, and I think that might work some places in Philly), maybe a look into the secret lives of wholesalers, or a walk-around tour of historic sites.

But you get what you pay for. No one can expect a LOT from a free event. You get out what you put in.

Nathan said...

I had a great time at most of the events that I attended. I wish the Beer fest was more a part of the week, maybe it could be the first or last day???

I live in Fairmount and there were so many events in my hood that I didn't leave all that often.

It re-introduced me to Aspen, they had several great events. I loved the meet and greet with Oskar Blues, they were great.

The South Philly Pub Crawl seemed like a great idea. I had never been to any of those bars but had always wanted to go to the POPE and SPTR in particular. The problem was that it was totally packed in most of the bars and I had no idea that you needed to buy tickets or that there was such a limited number of tickets. Most people I ran into that night felt the same way, we never were able to get tickets (after trying at 4 of the we just made it a pay as you go event and still had a good time. I wish we knew there were X amount of tickets available, and I wish we could have bought the tickets online or before the night of the pub crawl. Great idea, I'm sure it will be better in the years to come.

I did not do any of the events that were fixed prices, with the huge cost of the Beer fest...I couldn't justify spending that much again in such a short time on a beer dinner. I enjoyed the PAYG events mostly because it allowed us to visit several places in one night.

Meeting the brewers was a nice touch, meeting the local reps (from the out of state breweries)....not so much.

I love the idea of combining this with Community Service events, this seems to go well with the idea that GastroPubs are changing neighborhoods, ie Standard Tap. I remember reading the stories about how Dock Street had to convince the neighbors that they were going to be good neighbors. A little cleanup project would go a long way in convincing people that the Craft Beer crowd/establishments is not the same old crowd from the Shot and a Beer places.

It would be great if they had connections to the Beer Distributers, meet Oskar Blues at Aspen and get a $5 off coupon if you buy any Oskar Blues case at Stones Beverage (is that even legal...I don't know)

Loved the huge amount of Firkins available throughout the week. Loved the wood taps, 56 degree or higher temps of the beer and the variety of beer available.

Overall...I had such a great time during Beer Week. Great Idea, well organized (considering it was the first time), and tons of fun.

I think we made it clear that this is the Best Beer Drinking City in America!

Anonymous said...

I only went to one event because I was recovering from surgery that week, but it was great. I went to XIX for the beer desserts. They were fantastic. Plus, because this wasn't a specific event (these were just additions to the regular menu), there were no crowds or tickets. Just gorgeous food in a gorgeous dining room (the pastry chef even came out to meet us).

I tried going to the Noddinghead Happy Hour, but it was way too packed. I realize that most people are not as put off by crowds as I am, so I do not see this necessarily as a flaw in general - but for me, it is. So I turned around and left. For future beer weeks, I would most likely only go to events with tickets to reduce the liklihood of crowds, as well as events like the beer desserts at XIX.

Anonymous said...

First of all, kudos to everyone involved in planning and ogranizing PBW. Overall, I found the events extremely enjoyable and they helped me get a few friends turned onto good beeer-- I'm sure they appreciate it too.

As for constructive comments, I love the idea of doing some sort of community service or neighborhood interaction over a future beer week. And a broader range of priced events would always be ideal. More events related to homebrewing would be fun, as would more events in the suburb-- it would take more planning but there are plenty of good beer bars out there that could contribute.

Again, thank you for a great week--I look forward to more!

Adam said...

First, I think the way this all got pulled together was amazing. Great job everybody!

Some thoughts I've had and heard others passing on...

More events for the ladies that are not so beer centric. Sure they should be beer related in someway. The London Grille & Eastern State Penn tour is a good example of this. 50% tour, 50% beer & food.

More homebrew events!

Get the word out earlier so people can plan to travel from far away.

Make the planning easier for attendees. Get a better visual calendar going. Maybe something like a conference track sheet. Maybe somebody could choose to hit the events on the "lager" track or the "historic philly beer" track. You know grease the skids by making it easier for those people who might get overwhelmed with all the choices.

Get somebody to do a better job on the website. Might want to see if you can get somebody to keep track of all the online "press" that pops up on variouse blogs etc. Put links up to these sites. Have an area of the website that tells the story of Philly Beer Week as it unfolds.

Again, thanks for all the hard work. Here's to an even better one next year! Cheers!

Lew Bryson said...

Good comments, Adam. We did have the "track" idea early on. But at first there weren't enough events...and then they all came in a rush. I suspect we may be a bit more selective and organized on what gets on the calendar next year.

More homebrew events? We've got some great homebrew places in the area, that's for sure. Some of the problem might be finicky booze laws. We'll look at that.

Anonymous said...

What a blast! Great job.

Good comments above, especially about the website. In particular, a better calendar and active updates, with "sold out" and "available" labels on events, and at least links to local active bloggers. Yeah, this takes time on someone's part. I know that lots of places jumped on at the very last minute, so that complicated matters. Hopefully, this will go better next year.

Downside of most events, and the difficulty in getting people in from out of town, is that many of the venues are small (e.g. Monk's, SPTR). So they sell out fast. Prices for dinners appear to be high, but someone pointed out to me that the restaurant is losing a significant amount of business when it hosts a dinner. After understanding that, I don't think the prices were as high as I originally thought.

Meet the brewers on Tuesday was excellent. Definitely do that again. Having a few out-of-towners was good. I echo the above statement that meeting local reps from breweries is pointless. Lots of yummy firkins all week as well--perhaps call it "Philly Firkin Week"?

I was at the homebrew event Monday night at Jose's. Super fun. Highly recommend doing that again.

Great job, everyone.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could have participated as I was out of town throughout the entire event. I hoisted a brew each night during my trip in homage to the event.

One thing that organizers may wish to include next year is a 5K or 10K run with a tasting event afterwards, as inspired by the folks at The Brew Lounge

Jim L.