05 Sep Crown Beer Fest – Organizer and Breweries Working Hard for you In These Trying Times
The federal August jobs report showed that leisure and hospitality employee numbers were flat. The total number of jobs produced was much below expected, but who would have guessed that leisure and hospitality would have added NO jobs in the month. It’s so hard to find employees now for restaurants, breweries, wineries, and distilleries that it is really starting to affect things you wouldn’t have previously considered – like craft beer festivals.
It has been so difficult for many breweries, wineries, and distilleries to find people willing to do events that they have begun declining festival invites or withdrawing from events. It’s not their fault, fewer people employed in this sector overall means that the people who are working are doing more jobs and taking on more responsibility – but they can’t be two places at once.
If a brewery has an event at their place (which they need to do to bring people in), and they have an event in their city or location (because it’s important to support local groups and causes), then they likely don’t have staff to go to a large craft beer festival a bit farther away, no matter how good the cause or how many people it could introduce to their brand.
This makes it very difficult for event organizers to predict how many vendors they are going to end up with for an event, at that makes it difficult to estimate how many tickets they can sell and make the event enjoyable for the attendees and vendors. Too many vendors and too few attendees leaves vendors less than thrilled about how many people learned about their establishments compared to their investment of time and product. Too many attendees for the number of vendors leads to long lines, running out of product early, and a less than spectacular time for both attendees and vendors.
The situation this summer has resulted in many organizers scrambling to replace vendors that had to drop out, and continually reassessing how many craft beer fans can be accommodated. For example, Walter and I dropped off 50 cases of beer at Indiana Beach on our way up to Crown Beer Fest for breweries that could not find pourers and will have Indiana Beach volunteers pouring for them at Hops and Coaster Drops next Saturday at the amusement park.
Despite these difficulties, Crown Brewing in Crown Point presented this year’s version of the Crown Beer Fest on Saturday, Sept. 4, and a great crowd (over 1400) was treated to hundreds of beers due to the diligence of the Crown Brewing folks to bring in vendors and to find pourers for vendors that were strapped or attending via distributor. Bulldog Park was the new venue for the festival; this park is becoming a regular stop for many craft beer fans in northern Indiana. The day was gray, but the temperature was pleasant and there was no rain – so it’s a win all the way around.
The breweries and distilleries brought great selections, as were the choice Crown Brewing made to bring in from distributors – Humble Forager, Prairie Artisan Ales, Clown Shoes, Spencer Trappist Brewery, Superstition Meadery, etc. As for the breweries, it might be a bit too on point to say since they look forward to this festival all year, but if it had been a competition, Crown Brewing would have won their own festival.
Steve, Thom, Dan, and all the staff (including all those that came to pour for others) put forth some amazing beers, from a dry hopped pilsener to a barrel aged stout with chocolate and vanilla beans to a surprisingly complex strawberry rhubarb tart ale to this year’s version of their pumpkin beer, the Ignis Fatuus, and several others. Add in Thom’s sister brand, The Foamation Project, and their four beers (herbed saison, coffee stout, ginger and mint Moscow Mule beer, and a sno-cone sour), and Crown hit the ball out of the park this weekend.
Other local breweries shone through as well. Fuzzyline Brewing brought four products, including their very popular blueberry gose. Walter is always happy when The Devil’s Trumpet brings My Ghetto, and Four Fathers had a few bottles of the Wheelhouse Stout and it’s hazelnut variant. Don’s Juice and Cement Shoes were being poured by the Crown Point homebrew club called IBRU (Illiana Beer Rackers Union), and Wildrose from Griffith had four great beers, including a wonderful marzen Oktoberfest.
From slightly farther away, Teays River had a long line all day, the Business Time Tropical Gose seemed to be very popular, as was the Bigsy White Stout from Bryan and Evil Czech Brewery out of Mishawaka. Evil Horse, Maplewood, and Moody Tongue were there from Illinois, each with good beers, and Ironwood drove over from Valparaiso. People’s Brewing was there, as were Ash & Elm Ciders and Hotel Tango came in from Indianapolis. Overall, the choices were better than solid, I tried the Pumpkin Kerfuffle Pumpkin Sour from Prairie Artisan Ales for the first time and was very pleasantly surprised.
The VIP hour started at 3:30pm and gave everyone a great chance to talk to the breweries. The GA crowd was huge and added a festive air to the afternoon at 4:30. Add in the live music, the great food trucks, and the great pint glasses used for tasting and taking home, and the event was a rousing success.
On the way home, Walter suggested we stop at Teays River Brewing since they didn’t bring Pinky in the Grain to the festival and she had a hankering for some. I was looking for some BBQ, so Teays River it was. Their two new NE IPAs made good pairs for a great brisket sandwich, and Walter’s Unc Burger was complimented by both the Blood Orange and the original Pinky.
It was a great day, and highlighted the hard work that people are doing for craft beverage fans, both in organizing events and with vendors finding a way to staff them. Tell the people that bring you your beer/wine/spirits and your favorite events that you support and appreciate the work they do on your behalf.