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Da Beers!

Beer festivals... We are living in the age of the craft beer festival. There seems to be a new one every weekend! As a brew pub, B.O.B.’s Brewery is restricted in the number that we can actually attend: winter in Grand Rapids, summer in Ypsi, late summer in the U.P. and autumn in Detroit. I’ve never been to the last two and have never missed either of the first two. In a very real way, I’m glad we don’t have to do the road show all summer long like so many other breweries. You should hear the fatigue in their voices, when my friends are discussing summer beer vacation. It’s a ton of work–haul all of the gear to a hard to access location, locate water, electricity... Where to sleep? Hotel? Friend’s house? In the trailer? It’s essentially camping without the tranquility. It gets old. I know crews that do 20 beer festivals a year! These are rarely profitable endeavors. That’s the game, but I never hear brewers complain about the people. Folks who attend craft beer festivals are, almost without exception, wonderful! We go for our beer people! Still–how much is enough, and how can we make it better a better experience for festival goers? I have some concerns.

Unfortunately, many of the beer festivals follow the exact same (and in my opinion, very boring) format. Brewery X brings some cool beers; Brewery Y brings some cool beers and Brewery Z does the same. People line up based on brewery or beer preference. Sure, you get to sample some very rare and unique one offs–but that’s it! I find the routine all too predictable. These festivals need a jolt of life; something new. After all, the craft beer industry was built on the spirit of innovation. All too often these events become popularity contests. The big breweries will all have almost endless lines while smaller, less established breweries go unnoticed. This isn’t cool.

I propose a beer festival format where each brewery could bring 3 or 4 beers, max. All the beer would be loosely categorized and served without the guest knowing which brewery made it. Group similar beers into sections–say all the IPAs are here, fruit beers there, sours over here and so on. This way attendees could evaluate each beer based on its merits; not its logo. This sounds like fun to me. I’d be the first to admit that I am guilty of determining what I think about the beer before I event taste it. I may surprise myself at times but generally I draw conclusions before the first sip. So do you. We all do. We're all "Super Fans" to some degree or another. That’s unfortunate isn’t it?
Of course brand loyalty and brewery identification are real and important things. Marketing and branding are essential to continued success in this (or any) industry. Nonetheless, there are times when we should step back and look at the trees–or in this case–just drink the beer. In the craft beer community, we are always at risk of falling into the “trendy” trap. Ultimately it should be about the beer, not the brewer. Of course, that’s why this is a healthy industry today. We make produce a product that is fun and people love it. However, we need to resist the temptation to fall prey to consumption based on status. We like to think we are above that, but we are not. So let’s have a beer party somewhere nice, with great local music, great friends and open minds.

Brewer John

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B.O.B.'s Brewery
B.O.B.'s Brewery


20 Monroe Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503


Sun - Wed: Closed
Thu: 4:00pm - 10:00pm
Fri: 5:00pm - 12:00am
Sat: 5:00pm - 12:00am