The Session #96: Roundup

It is high time the RoundUp was posted. I was asked for a little additional time, but I think 2 weeks is more than enough, so here we go with the brief summary of each of the contributions posted by beer bloggers from all around the globe.

Before that, I just wanted to express my gratitude to every article published. It has given me a fantastic view on how Beer Festivals are lived by beer enthusiasts in many different countries. So the main prospect why I wanted to host the 96th Session has been satisfied.

A priori one could have easily predicted that drinkers from countries with a time-honoured brewing tradition would be less excited than the ones living in places that until recently had almost no beer offer at all. But borrowing Stan's words "context always matters", and it has been a great occasion to learn about different cultures and individual thoughts.

RoundUp - The Session #96:

Jo Olluyn, from Hoppy Slosh, tells us in a funny rant full of disclaimers and generalisation that Belgian beer festivals divide between: Ambassador's Festivals, for traditions' sake and mainstream appeal; and Zythophile's Festivals, with a focus on enjoyment and beer itself (and homo ratebeerensis). He gives us an amusing description of certain Festival attendees, as well as the general regard of beer and festivals in his country. On the main question of The Session, he says that you can find both geeks and general public, so the answer would be in between.

Dan Conley responds from two different points of view as a producer and as a drinker and attendee of Beer Festivals. He was quite excited about them in 2007, when he got into "good beer" and began homebrewing. Now he doesn't get much out of fests, specially as he doesn't like crowds and noise. But he's also shifted perspective being "on the other side of the table", and he offers some reflections about it. About the question at hand, he says it depends on each festival.

Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey remind us that present beer Festivals can be said to have been invented by CAMRA around the 1970s, being a "brilliant hybrid of political protest and beer geek fan service" and a fifty-fifty between Geek Gathering and Beer Dissemination. However, it seems that nowadays British Festivals are mostly a treat for tickers and online communities, as long as pubs and other beer-related businesses are already offering a great selection.

John Duffy says that Festivals are both undoubtedly a place for dissemination and geeks in Ireland. The Irish calendar of festivals seems to be getting established, being a great place for loyal drinkers from all the country to gather. Despite that, they're a minority most of the times, and it's "the job of the festival to create or boost" awareness of "beer beyond the big brands" to visitors. But there's a third point: Festivals as a way of learning about the state of local brewing.

Reuben Gray, also from Ireland, gives a different twist to the current discussion, writing about the missing answer to my question. A simple one, actually: Festivals are just about drinking. That's why he attends beer festivals to socialise around some beers, while doing just a little of "what Budweiser doesn't want me to do". He adds that a beer festival is kind of a vacation and you should better enjoy your time rather than take it too seriously.

Brett Domue has been in quite a lot of beer festivals recently: a couple of them in San Diego, but most of them in the Netherlands. He really loves beer festivals: either big or small, some of them have "a mixture of beer aficionados and just general locals" while others "are definitely more for the beer geeks among us".Additionally, he writes about some differences between European and American festivals, as well as listing why festivals makes him happy: meeting brewers and other beer lovers, trying more beer and helping the industry.

Derrick Peterman questions himself if festivals are losing their importance, losing their appeal to other experiences and being left as popular but plain marketing events. He claims that "there was a time when beer festivals were the only way certain beers saw the light of day"; now even gas stations have a decent selection. According to him, breweries are increasingly losing interest. But he points out the "uncomfortable" alcoholic factor, suspecting he's not the only one seeking alternatives to explore the beer scene without  drinking too much. So he concludes that festivals a great way to meet people, but that they're getting irrelevant.

Jack Perdue sees festivals as "fun, plus educational", giving you the chance to meet the brewers and talk to them while having some new beers or special offerings. He continues by describing festivals as "a three-part harmony" with beer drinkers, breweries and promoters. And while he doesn't exactly answer to the question on discussion, he concludes by pointing out two of his must-visit festivals: the Oktoberfest in München, Germany; and the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado.

Matthew Lawrenson reflects on the use of Beer Festivals, telling us about many types of them: from his local Cricket Club to charity fundraisers, as well as the most popular: the ones that "run on strictly commercial lines". He declares that Festivals are OK, but that they "often make promises they can't fulfil", and that he's not very fond of crowds and noise. He concludes that they're neither for dissemination nor for geeks: "they are just there" because there's a demand for it.

Max Bahnson confesses (both in English and Spanish) that some time ago he might have responded differently to the topic at hand. He rarely attends festivals now, and when he doest it is mostly for the atmosphere, "after all, good, interesting beers is something I can find any day, without hardly any effort". That's why he can't see the real value for his money on festivals. He adds that the aims of Beer Festivals depend on each of them, and that it shouldn't matter to consumers.

Alan McLeod describes beer fests as "messy drunken things", going on about the "loveliest" things you can enjoy when attending these events: sharing roof with people prone to memory loss and poor body balance, and experiencing sore feet, after some hours. He says he also enjoys talking with the security guys while smelling that Saison-like barn aroma. Then he looks forward to an upcoming "beer fair" that he's been invited to, hoping that it turns out to be OK, though he has "already considered my early departure apologies".

Stan Hieronymus posts a general reflection around the present Session, citing two of the contributions (John's and mine) and expressing his liking of how "context always matters". He also posts a very interesting picture from last July at the Oregon Brewers Festival with a map with pints that shows where the attendees came from. He also mentions "the topic already overanalyzed this week", and finally states that dissemination is where you find the difference.

Finally, I (Joan Villar-i-Martí) write about the local distinction between beer fairs and festivals, and how these events have been of great importance for the evolution of our growing beer scene. There were just 2 Catalan macrobreweries and a tiny brewpub in 2000. Nowadays, you can easily attend a Beer Festival each weekend, and the city of Barcelona is packed with beer-related businesses.


And that's all, folks. I hope the topic and contributions of the current Session have been interesting enough for everybody. I now pass the baton to our Dutch mate Brett Domue, who is hosting the 97th Session on "Up-and-Coming Beer Locations".

Salut i birra!


  1. apologies Joan, I guess you can always add an adendum if I get a chance this weekend!

  2. No need for apologies, Steve :-). Looking forward what you have to say about Festivals. Cheers!

  3. The RoundUp for Session #96 offers a global perspective on beer festivals, showcasing diverse experiences. Jo Olluyn humorously distinguishes Belgian festivals, highlighting the divide between tradition-focused Ambassador's Festivals and enjoyment-centric Zythophile's Festivals. Dan Conley, both a producer and attendee, reflects on changing views since 2007, acknowledging the impact of crowds. The Session prompts varied responses, emphasizing the contextual nature of beer festivals worldwide. Cheers to the bloggers for enriching our understanding of this cultural phenomenon!
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