Anatomy of a Beer Festival Part 6

Part 6: Green Light

We received budget approval from CAMRA HQ and were now in a position to move forward with planning.  It had come with a note of warning, however, as they were concerned that a third different venue in as many years could have a detrimental effect.  We shared some of their concerns but were determined to make it work or die trying!


On a personal level, I had decided that if this festival was to fail I would be calling it a day.  I felt that there had to be some reward for all the hard work and time spent organising it and if there wasn’t then there was little point in continuing.  I’m sure many others felt this way but we never spoke of it.  We didn’t want to talk or think about anything negative and tried to focus on the task at hand.


Next on the agenda would be the beer and cider quantities.  Cider wise we are very lucky to have a cider maker as our branch chairman and so with his contacts are able to put on a great range of ciders even on a tight budget.  He also always has some spares should sales exceed our expectations.  Beer wise we don’t have the same luxury and in fact it seems more difficult each year to secure extra beers on sale or return (SOR), especially since we obviously didn’t need any the previous year and also hadn’t used any in the previous three years either.  A lot of breweries don’t offer this facility so you are restricted to a few local ones which in turn has an effect on which beers you can put on.


To clarify, these are duplicates of some beers that are only paid for if used which help prevent us from running out should attendance be more than expected.  A reasonable level of SOR beers is crucial as to run out of beer on Saturday and upset your customers is the last thing any festival wants.


We don’t have the luxury of a large beer order that a lot of festivals have. That in itself gives you more chance of securing extra beers on a sale or return basis as breweries tend to be more accommodating the more beers you order from them.


I decided to impose a general rule of no more than two beers from any one brewery.   I felt with only being able to offer around 60 beers this time, having four or five on from one brewery was too large a proportion.  There would be exceptions to this rule later but only where necessary and for good reasons.  There was some opposition to this because of the potential impact it might have on the sale or return beers, but that was my stance and I was sticking to it wherever I could.


Only time would tell whether this method would allow us to get the beers and SORs we wanted.


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