The Cultured #4 – Festivals – Who Wins?

We asked The Cultured Community this week how do festivals strike a balance between being an experience driven concept that allows for attendees to be educated through tasters and not having the vendors been taken advantage of and walking away with a loss? What is the best system that gives value to the customers, vendors and organisers?

Community power user, brewery owner and Fools & Fans Festival founder, Trevor summed up the general confusion on how to strike a balance.

Carel went on to describe a solution to the old “free taster” issue that is at the heart of whats fair?


This way, education is spread for free, patrons who are really interested gets a good value for money tasting tray, and the brewery is not 100% out of pocket”.

Carel van heerden – SA Home Brewer Champion 2018

“Imagine a section at a beer fest that is central but out of the main hustle and bustle. A seating arrangement that can take 50 or so patrons. Once every hour, on the hour, a different brewer does a 20 min guided tour of his beers. It is free to everyone to go sit and listen. However, if you want to take part in the tasting while the brewery does the talking, you have to pay R40-50 for the tasting tray. This way, education is spread for free, patrons who are really interested gets a good value for money tasting tray, and the brewery is not 100% out of pocket”.

Greatgrampops, photographer and fermented products fan, added, “Tuning the vine is that kind of experience, great concept to get all the wine farms to the city, but turns into a “quantity over quality” thing. I feel it needs to be more focused. I gave Food Photography courses and people paid to attend as long as the content was good and there was an “experience” element to it. When you feel you’re getting value, you’re willing to pay more”.


When you feel you’re getting value, you’re willing to pay more

greatgrampops – Photographer

MrBeerPants attends a lot of festivals. In fact I am not sure you can call your event a beer fest unless MrBeerPants is in attendance. he takes his beer serious, much more than his name would suggest and is well known for enjoying the intimacy of a guided tasting from brewers.

Stefan, founder and brewery at Little Wolf, had been on the receiving end of some poor fest and some good ones. He is adamant that tasters are part of the experience and you will inevitable win some and loose some.

Carel then brought up another angle on why tasters are necessary. “The poor quality of some commercial craft beer has in a sense forced the tasting culture that we see at the festivals. If there was a 100% guarantee that all beer at the festival was of high standard, I would be more than willing to buy a pint without asking for a taster”.

Mike Halls, Real Beer Revolution, commented

“1) People felt entitled to tasters, and when breweries didn’t pour enough beer, they demanded more as they were “paying” for the taster, with a token.
2) The brewery didn’t get any compensation for that token, so it was of no benefit to them to take the token.
Also, for me, using plastic for the tokens was a bad idea, there is already so much single use plastics at the festival, this added so much more”.


Also, for me, using plastic for the tokens was a bad idea, there is already so much single use plastics at the festival, this added so much more”.

Mike Halls – Feral Brew Co

I guess the issue can still be debated however I really like Carel’s suggestion of a tasting area where brewers get to engage the consumer . It is not without it’s logistical challenges and people will not always be able to attend the tastings all through the day. However I really think its a good start. Something needs to change at festivals as both consumer and vendor are getting fest fatigue. Essentially you need to create an experience one that both consumer and vendor see value in. You need weave in elements of education and not just rely on the the vendors to spread the good word of the industry you are creating an event for. Create a platform for engagement that is fair and I think you will be onto a winning formula. Oh yes, don’t forget the entertainment, we like to dance.

If you would like to join The Cultured Community and add your voice to the conversation contact me Murray@fermented.co.za.

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