Series #fmbewords: Bristol Craft Beer Festival ready to go

by Frank Wainwright, director, FMBE

Bristol Beer Craft Festival is on and it is coming up soon, 11th 13th September, wonderfully set at the City’s Harbourside.

It is an outdoor event that is expecting 3000 paying guests and with the words ‘Festival’ in the title it is able to lay claim to being the first event of its type to be emerging.

The Bristol event is one of a series of four created for the craft beer industry by ‘Greg and Daniel’ the co-founders of We Are Beer. These craft quaffing aficionados also have events in Edinburgh, Birmingham and London and this year Bristol and London look set to be stand out COVID cancellation mould breakers.

Speaking with the Greg of that aforementioned pair, Greg Wells (Daniel is Daniel Sylvester), it was clear that behind a laid back festival vibe there is a steely determination to make both Bristol – and October’s much larger indoor affair at London’s Tobacco Dock – work on behalf of his company , the companies his events host and promote, the public who love them and more broadly the events venues and industry. It is in one sense a weighty responsibility, but in another sense there has by now been plenty of precedent to show the direction of public sentiment. The overwhelming success of Eat Out to Help Out shows that at least the foodie demographic is keen to socialise within safety guidelines.

In what has been an extremely anxious time for any events, Greg has been hanging on government announcements from Oliver Dowden’s Culture, Media and Sport office and seeing them translate to local level and whilst he insists that Bristol’s Council has been consistently helpful he says that making his Festival happen has seen quite a few new takes on traditional event management. For instance, he says, a new adage under COVID has been “don’t make decisions too early”. Re-emerging events need to stay flexible to possible rule changes right up to when they open.

Ticket sales have also peaked at different times to previous events, but they have gone well, with numbers expected to match 2019. With a strong turn out Greg will need his guests to stick to the event rules – but he is confident.

“Craft beer is a super-premium product. 26-45 years old is the main demographic and we know our guests are not disrespectful. This year’s event is sat at tables, supported by clear signage and lots of stewards. We have focussed on being very straight with our communications and tone. Music will be background only. Of course, it is alcohol, so that will remove some inhibitions, but we are prepared for that with good stewarding. Our main job is to make sure that we have the environment right.”

The beer tasting will be supported by spirits and non-alcoholic drinks, alongside pub snacks and street food.

Greg is also clear that the responsibility is also a commercial one. He foresees “an excessive recession coming” and wants to set a positive event in progress. Greg believes that an emerging event industry can be a vital driver of commerce, helping the UK economy to get back on its feet. Certainly, the entrepreneurial resilience and positivity he and his team have shown brings confidence to the events industry.

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