The Great American Beer Festival, usually held in Denver, Colorado, will be held virtually this year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beer festivals across the country have been canceled or postponed all the way through summer, but the largest – GABF had yet to make an announcement until today. This decision was bolstered by Colorado Governor Jared Polis issuing an Executive Order temporarily suspending certain statutes to allow the operation of alternate care sites in Colorado. This order means GABF can not be held at the Colorado Convention Center.
Instead, the festival will pivot to an online experience, taking place October 16-17. Expect live and virtual experiences, that will include tastings, brewery conversations, and at-home beer and food deliveries.
“While we are disappointed to not be gathering in Denver this fall for the craft beer community’s annual big tent event, the health and safety of our attendees, brewers, volunteers, judges, and employees is and always has been our top priority. As the world is still greatly affected by the spread of COVID-19 and will continue to be affected for the foreseeable future, we must stay true to our priorities and pursue other ways to host GABF.” – Bob Pease, president, and CEO of the Brewers Association
While the 39th annual festival will be virtual for usual attendees, the beer competition will still take place as usual. A panel of more than 100 judges will taste 7,000 entries voting for the three beers that best represent each style category. Brewers, the registration for this year’s competition opens June 9th.
The “virtual” GABF is still in planning, with more details to be released in the coming weeks.
Coronavirus lockdowns across all 50 states have had America’s breweries scrambling to find new ways to serve their customers. With May just hours away, many states are cautiously reopening their economies, including Monday Night Brewing’s home of Atlanta, Georgia. The Peach state’s shelter-in-place order at the end of April and the next day brewery taprooms could open again with extra precautions.
Sounds like life could get back to normal in May right? Not so fast. Even with relaxed restrictions, it appears consumers might make a different choice.
Monday Night recently surveyed740 people that had been to one of the brewery’s taprooms in the past 3 months. A series of questions about customer expectations surrounding taproom sanitation practices and changes to their expected visitation behavior were fielded and the results don’t look good for craft brewers.
Almost 40% of the respondents said they would wait until at least June before going back into a brewery taproom. 21.7% said July, while 13.8% said they would wait until late summer before going back to a taproom again.
Any vision of a normal Friday afternoon in a brewery taproom looks to be a further into the future than most hoped or thought. This could spell financial disaster for some operations hoping for “if you tap it, they will come” situation as we transition into summer.
Who do you listen to?
Monday Night’s survey revealed the consumer is more self-reliant than we assumed. Just because the Georgia Governor Brian Kemp says it’s ok to eat out, go bowling, get your haircut or grab a pint, doesn’t mean the consumers buy it. Respondents placed trust in the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization the highest determining factor as to when it’s safe to hit bars and breweries again. In just close second, when their own research says it’s safe. Interestingly, the state government’s advisement confidence level as guidance was dead last.
The biggest takeaway from this survey is that America’s breweries will probably see a drop in taproom attendance and along with it, in-house revenue through the summer.
Perhaps those numbers might trend upward if consumer confidence with efforts to slow the Covid-19 pandemic improves.
One thing is certain, there is no magic switch get back to the beer world we knew as 2020 started.
Noda BrewingBoba Brett will be available for pick up at the brewery starting May 1st.
The base for the Charlotte-based brewery’s sour program, Boba Brett is a sour pale ale that’s both tropical and funky.
Your hunt for the most rewarding sour pale ale is over. Boba Brett, our sour project’s base brew, delivers a bountiful balance of complex tartness and layers of tropical and funky notes. This crisp, satisfying ale can never be cloned, anywhere across the galaxy.
Noda Brewing Boba Brett is only available for purchase online and non-contact pickup at the brewery next weekend.
Like many of the breweries right now, Asheville’s Hi-Wire Brewinghas been relying on online sales and relaxed shipping restrictions to make ends meet. Instead of a taproom release of a rare wild ale, these weird times call for an online-only beer release.
Hi-Wire’s sour and wild program continues to impress us. So it’s worth noting there are a small handful of bottles available of this new blend that you don’t even have to get off your couch to buy and try.
A Blend About Blueberries Sour– Single Barrel Batch No. 27 is a blend of spontaneous and non-spontaneous sour blonde ales aged on blueberries. 750-milliliter bottles this blend can be purchased here. You’re stuck at home. Treat yourself.
When a brewer visits the Tianshan Tea City in Shanghai, it’s pretty much a given a beer will come out of it. StoneSoaring Dragon Imperial IPA joins the brewery’s lineup this month.
White peony tea is a first in Stone’s beers, who has used green tea a few times in the past (see: Baird/Ishii/Stone Green Tea IPA.) According to the brewery, the team was really “blown away” after trying the white peony tea. The floral qualities of the tea really had the potential to play well with some new hop varieties. In this case, Citra and Loral.
Per Stone, the flavor profile: Raspberry, cinnamon stick, and clover honey with hints of coconut and papaya, spearmint, sage, clean white tea, and grapefruit pith.
Stone Soaring Dragon is available in 12-ounce cans and 22-ounce bottles.
StoneBuenaveza Salt & Lime Lager has started shipping nationally as April winds down.
From a brewery best known for their love of India pale ales comes a Mexican-style lager brewed with fresh lime and sea salt. Stone Brewing was founded in 1996 just 17 miles from Baja California. The south of the border inspirations are evident in Stone’s love of hot peppers in brewing, as well as Xocoveza Mexican hot chocolate imperial stout.
Brewer Ben Sheehan created this beer at Stone’s World Bistro & Gardens Liberty Station. Look for Buenaveza Salt & Lime Lager in 12 and 19.2-ounce cans, 12 and 22-ounce bottles as well as draft.
Style:Lager (w/ Sea Salt. Lime.) Hops: Liberty Availability: 12oz Cans, Draft. Debut: April 2020