To keep things simple, I'm going to break down the event into the positive aspects and then areas in which the event could improve.
- The quality of the Beers: I have to hand it to many of the Brewers who showed up with some seriously tasty brews. Jackie O's for instance had an amazing Black IPA, and new to the scene JAFB Brewery from Wooster really brought their A-Game to what was their first ever beer event! The Cream Ale, Stout, and the Pale Ale were all very good. Blues and Brew's always puts on a good show in terms of beer quality, and this year was no different.
- The Food: Winking Lizard kept it simple, but did it very well. I had a sausage and peppers sandwich which really hit the spot. They also offered burgers, veggie burgers, and pulled chicken sandwiches too. At a beer event I don't need anything crazy, just something tasty and Winking Lizard delivered that again.
- Brewer Representation: Something I always look for and appreciate at a beer event is having someone knowledgeable about the beer behind the table. Many of the beers I tasted had brewers in attendance yesterday and I found that very helpful, especially with some of the new to the area breweries.
- The People: I had a blast yesterday hanging out with many of friends and other beer fanatics. Talking about the brews and sharing laughs always makes for a great afternoon. From the volunteer side, I found everyone was having a great time and enjoying the event. I love that people are there for the right reason, and not just to see how much they can drink in 6 hours. I had great conversations about the Fat Head's beers we were pouring, but I also had fun giving suggestions of other beers to try that were in our tent or even some of the other tents.
Overall, I had a blast at this event and would recommend this event to any craft beer lover. That being said, there were some areas that could be improved that would lead to an even better experience.
Areas to Improve:
- The Brewery/Beer List: The Brewery List for events like this should be published 3-4 weeks before the event. The specific beer list isn't necessary until closer to the event, but I do feel consumers should know about a month in advance which Breweries have at least committed to the event. This would allow people to make an educated choice on if they are going to attend and what session to attend. For instance, someone could make the choice to attend the Brewer's Circle or general admission, instead of relying on the hope that their favorite brewery might be there.
- The Lay Out: A very large tent was dedicated to the Ohio Brewers, which I loved. The only problem, Breweries like Willoughby, The Brew Kettle, Jackie O's, and JAFB-Wooster were nowhere to be found in that tent. Instead, they were spread around in two other tents that were mixed with Ohio and other U.S. breweries on the other side of the stage. I hope that next year all of the Ohio Brewers can find a way to be under one tent, or at least next to each other and not spread all around.
- Labeling: Instead of only having table numbers hung up, it would have made finding the beers easier if each station was labeled more specifically. A sign with the brewery name and the beers they are offering could have been hung in addition to the table number sign. This would have made life a lot easier, especially since the Brewer's Circle Beers were spread out in 7 different areas.
The good news about the areas to improve is they are all simple fixes. If these areas are addressed next year Blues and Brews has the potential to be a near perfect event.