Beginning this week, and until the middle of next week, the beer industry has two of its three largest and most important industry conventions: the Great American Beer Festival, in Denver and the National Beer Wholesalers Convention, in Las Vegas. Both conventions are extensive and important to each other.
For decades, the GABF has recognized breweries who submitted their beers for judging by awarding the top beers with gold, silver and bronze medals. The winning breweries typically displayed their medals at their respective breweries, and leveraged their marketing materials to reflect their winning status, which also included displaying graphics on their product packaging.
This is really nothing new. Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, whose label was the grand prize winner of the best beer blue ribbon at the World’s Fair in the late 1800s, did the same thing, and Pabst has been leveraging that ribbon ever since. Winning a medal at the GABF gives that beer, its brewery and the head brewer a celebrity status in the beer industry.
Award winning beers also help their wholesalers. With today’s emphasis on beer styles, flavors, colors etc., and the role of the cicerone, an informed sales person can again use an award winning medal to gain placements and handles, not to mention promotional opportunities in the on-premise market. These convention awards are a win-win for all parties.
Immediately following the GABF, the NBWA will begin this Sunday. The key question for this year is: what does the industry need to do to once again jumpstart growth? There will be many industry experts and executives talking about this particular subject, not to mention panel discussions. Seminars, speakers and exhibitors will be everywhere. All eyes will be looking at reestablishing relationships and creating new ones, as vendors hope to gain new business. The exhibition floor will be full, and, of course, the Monday night get-together, with all the various vendors, will be the place to be and be seen. As a wholesaler, one year I had 16 invitations just on that one Monday night.
Like the industry itself, the number of conventions and industry events seem to have become unmanageable. This is most likely more so for wholesalers with their multitude of brands and the various conventions like the GABF, the CBC and the NBWA. While at Glazer’s we used to flip a coin to see who attended what? It is crazy.
I feed on conferences….
Editor’s note; As reported last week the BBUP blog is still down and not fully working. I hope to have it back up and working this month so please bear with me. It will not be long and thanks to all who have responded with encouragement!