Sunday, May 23, 2010

KC Beerfail


The KC Beerfest happened yesterday in Westport. Happened is most cordial word I can use to describe the event. In case you hadn't heard yet, the event ended a little earlier than expected... about two and a half hours earlier than expected advertised. No, there wasn't a freak thunderstorm or underage flash mob, but rather a beer shortage. I've heard different stories about what caused the shortage but they all follow a common theme: someone didn't bring the amount of beer they were supposed to.

I got to Westport just after 1pm and made my way around the Boulevard and Odell tables before moseying down Westport road through Founders, Saison Dupont, Left Hand and Tallgrass. I got a glass of Odell Mountain Reserve and Tallgrass Oasis during this first pass. Not bad stuff, the Oasis was surprising good. I was expecting a light summer lager but it was a hoppy red mouthful.

Finally, around 2 or 2:15 I walk over to the last set of tables and notice that one whole side of the street is empty.... I mean there was nothing on the tables at all. I couldn't tell what I'd missed, that's how long they'd been out of beer. The far side of the street still had some bottles so I walked over and saw a few New Belgium beers, Schlafly Pale and Strangford Lough. The crowd was packed around the last two or three poor volunteers that still had beer left. I managed to get a pour of Strangford's St. Patrick's Ale. It was scotchy and had a little caramel flavor. By the time I'd gotten my St. Pat's pour the other beers on that block had completely run out. The place was picked so clean that I even saw someone run off with a cardboard cutout of The Most Interesting Man.

I heard from one person that only one case of beer per style showed up that morning, while someone else had told me that a distributor completely pulled out of the event without giving the organizers a heads up.

So it was now about 2:30pm, an hour and a half after the event opened to the public, and one third of the tables were now out of beer. The crowd understandably dispersed and headed toward the tables that still had beer. Keep in mind that even though a third of the beer was gone, a third of the crowd didn't just go home... So now the remaining tables were even busier and running out of beer at a rapidly increasing rate as more people keep showing up. I decided to cut my losses at this point and make my way over to Boulevard and grab a Saison-Brett before it ran out. The girl pouring the Saison-Brett handed me a glass that was filled to the brim! Unfortunately, it was all foam...

We hung around until about 3pm, grabbing a falafel sandwich from the Jerusalem Cafe truck (which was parked in front of Jerusalem Cafe oddly enough...) and watching the disappointed beer drinkers wander around in a sober stupor. It was like a bizarro warzone... Finally, we just went to Murray's for ice cream which ended up being the best decision of the day. I got the Bacon Maple Walnut ice cream and forgot all about the beerfest, seriously it was that good.

Walking back through Westport around 3:30 it looked like Tallgrass and Boulevard were the only ones with beer left. It's worth noting that the event was sold as running from 1pm to 5pm... I left around 3:30ish because there was no point in staying any longer. As surprised as I was that beer ran out early (this isn't the first time this has happened at a KC Beerfest) I was even more surprised there weren't any fights or people making a scene. I'll credit the lack of beer to contributing to the crowd's mild temper.

16 comments:

  1. That's just awful. It's amazing how you can actually get worse at organizing an event the more times you do it. A distributor pulling out is the only acceptable excuse. If that's not that case, they need to learn how to cap access.

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  2. The organizers were aware ahead of time that one of the distributors was not going to participate. The problem with that is, they had around a 100 beers they have featured at beerfests in the past. So now the pressure is on the remaining distributors to pony up more product because another pulls out. At one point, I think someone has to sit down and do simple math and see that there was not going to be enough beer. Maybe the organization should agree to pay for part of the beer to ease the pressure on the distributors who do want to participate.

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  3. I was a volunteer that worked the Boulevard tables and want to say they really pulled through.
    What you don't mention is that this is a fundraiser for the KC Free Health Clinic, not some stupid get drunk event where someone is making a profit! The beer is donated, not ordered. The event is at the mercy of beer vendors donating enough to make it through. You might have mentioned that Paul.
    Boulevard and Odell should get a ton of props for what they did for our community.

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  4. I was a volunteer that worked the Boulevard tables and want to say they really pulled through.
    What you don't mention is that this is a fundraiser for the KC Free Health Clinic, not some stupid get drunk event where someone is making a profit! The beer is donated, not ordered. The event is at the mercy of beer vendors donating enough to make it through. You might have mentioned that Paul.
    Boulevard and Odell should get a ton of props for what they did for our community.

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  5. http://kcbeerblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/kc-beer-fest-this-weekend-in-westport.html
    here's where I played up the charity aspect. Charity is no excuse for selling tickets to a four hour event and staying open barely two hours. Your average event goer doesn't care who's fault it was, they just know they're out $25-$30 and probably feel a little cheated.
    Good for boulevard and tallgrass for keeping up with demand. They definitely deserve more recognition

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  6. Okay so it is a stupid get drunk event where nobody is making a profit. That's wonderful. It is still a pretty crappy beer festival in a world with lots of great beer festivals, many of which also support charities.

    This is what happens when you cater to distributors and not to consumers and breweries.

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  7. I'd be willing to bet that if someone was trying to make a profit on the event, it would be a better event. KC Beerfest has never been any good and no one has ever made a dime other than the charity. However, the KC Beerfest is building up so much badwill that no one's going to want to spend the $25 or $30 to go next year or the year after.

    It's great that they're raising money for a great cause, it's not great that they're not making it worth the people's money.

    I'll leave it up to Paul if he wants to write about Beerfest next year advertising it, but, I'd be happy to not pretend it's an event worth attending.

    Kudos to Boulevard and Tallgrass for bringing enough beer with them to make it worth the peoples' money.

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  8. One of the problems, told to me by one of the events organizers, was that 500 people were processed to come into the event in a 17 minute period of time. They were completely unprepared for such a huge influx of people.

    In fact, the event didn't end until 5:00. The good folks at McCoy's brought out tons of kegs and kept the beer flowing.

    I agree, some logistics need to be solved concerning this event, but it is always easier to be a critic than it is to get involved and actually help, isn't it?

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  9. Outside of quickly running out of beer, where was the organization? There were lines to nothing, masses of people at every tap. You had to fight your way through for 2 ounces of beer (once the foam subsided)

    Next year I want to see some velvet ropes.

    Oh wait I wont be attending next year.

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  10. One of the problems, told to me by one of the events organizers, was that 500 people were processed to come into the event in a 17 minute period of time. They were completely unprepared for such a huge influx of people.

    Really? Their own promotional material said they expected 3,000 people. Did they expect them to show up at 3:30?

    Here's the problem with any charity event that is not prominently marketed as a charity event: the suppliers/talent/what have you know they're doing it for a charity that they may or may not care about. Therefore, some of them will show up, do/provide the bare minimum, and get out, pretending they'd done their good deed.

    Conversely, the crowd shows up wanting value for their ticket price because a) they may not even know it's for charity, and b) they may not care about the particular charity.

    Bottom line: If 1/3 of the tables run out 90 minutes into a four-hour event, a person buying a ticket has a right to be disappointed (and, on the other end of the spectrum, they have the right to be really impressed with Tallgrass/Blvd/McCoy's for making it right).

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  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  12. How old are you, dude? 15?

    All you do is go to events and cry about how people didn't have enough beer for you or somebody didn't sign your autograph or somebody charged you too much for not enough. Cry me a fucking river, you big baby.

    Why don't you get out and do/organize something yourself instead of sitting on your fat ass typing "fail" about everything.

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  13. Trevor, I take issue with your little rant. Paul A. Ner is NOT fat and doesn't have a fat ass. He's built like a 12 year old girl and I suspect he only lets his beard grow out so that he doesn't get confused for a 12 year old girl.

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  14. Thank you all for your inputs on how to better the KCBeerfest. We truly appreciate it use it as we plan for future KCBeerfests. The goals of the KCBeerfest are to provide Kansas City with an outstanding, regionally supported craft beer festival, highlight, enhance and educate Kansas City about world of craft beers.

    We understand and are sympathetic to those who felt the quick beer depletion was frustrating. Please know that we are studying how to best rectify this problem for our future events. Since the KCBeerfest is a charity event, all beer present at the festival is donated from the breweries and/or their distributors. We must rely on their generosity and support for all product donated to the festival. Each year we adjust our formula for number of attendees, sampling size, etc. based on the amount of beer donated. We will continue to improve on this method as we seek to provide you with the best festival going experience.

    While it is true that we work with many of the distributors in town, we also work directly with many brewers, local and regional. To address a few rumors, we did not have a distributor pull out of the festival. However, we did have a distributor not attend, but this was not the cause of the shortage. We adjusted accordingly and lowered our sell out point to 2,100 from 3,000.

    This year’s festival was the first KCBeerfest to sell out and therefore resulted in significant financial support for both Kansas City Free Health Clinic and the AIDS Service Foundation of Greater Kansas City. To all the volunteers, breweries, distributors, sponsors, and the attendees who helped generate this success – THANK YOU for helping us create healthy solutions for Kansas City.

    Again, we truly appreciate your input and support of the KCBeerfest and hope to see you at future festivals.


    Joe Bellinger
    Event Producer
    Kansas City Free Health Clinic
    www.kcbeerfest.com

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  15. No one mentioned that the crowd seemed young to me - the same crowd that does the "Pub Crawl" around Westport. Other beerfests I've gone to seemed to have a crowd that was there to actually "taste" beer - not get their drunk on. For a $25 cover charge I would not expect to have a free flow of beer for 4 hours (Hmmm, maybe they should call it "KC BeerTasting").

    I got there at 2:30 and was turned away (thank goodness) but on the way in, almost everyone had a full glass of beer - more than a taste. We went to Velvet Dog to try to sit on their patio - closed. Then we went down to the P&L where we drank Zon on the patio (I liked it way more than I remember but maybe 'cause it was 90 degrees.) and listened to the free country music concert. It was really fun and surprisingly way fewer douchebags than Westport. But more toothless people in cowboy boots - a good tradeoff I guess.

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  16. So to summarize:

    1) Don't expect any organization at the beerfest because it's for charity;

    2) Don't expect to get your money's worth or even get a sample of certain beers because it is for charity;

    3) When an event is for charity you should simply give them the $25 bucks and be happy with whatever you get;

    4) Don't dare think about blogging about an event unless a) it is a positive review or, b) you volunteer at said event;

    5) By year 10 of the event they'll have some things worked out better if, and only if, more beer is donated; and

    6) Paul is not a fat-ass.

    Thanks for the info.

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