Doing some reporting for a “Beer Notes” column coming in Scene magazine this Friday, I decided now was a good time to ask breweries something I’ve been wondering about: Is there such a thing as too many beer festivals?
On Saturday, Boise’s Knitting Factory will be the latest spot to tap into Boise’s craft beer market with Tap the Knit — but definitely not the last. The Pray For Snow Winter Ale Fest, presented by Tom Grainey’s, plans to offer beer from more than 25 breweries on Sunday, Nov. 17, in the parking lot at 6th and Grove streets. It costs, according to the event’s Facebook page, “ONLY $20 in advance for UNLIMITED TASTINGS (and we all know what that means).”
(Um, a brutal Monday?)
Tap the Knit sounds fun. So does Pray for Snow. But as craft-beer celebrations keep popping up — whether it’s the third annual Idaho Brewers Festival at Nampa’s Lakeview Park in August or the weakly attended Brew-Festivus at Boise’s PowerHouse Event Center in June — it’s inevitable that attracting drinkers will become a stiffer challenge.
Crooked Fence Brewing marketing director Kelly Knopp thinks a saturation point has arrived.
“It’s like having Christmas every month,” Knopp says. “I think everyone has good intentions of growing the scene … But I think people are not as eager to go to (beer festivals) because they know there’s going to be one every month. I can see the crowd starting to thin out. You’re starting to see the same people at every fest.”
Payette Brewing Co. founder Mike Francis agrees. He’s even made a point to slow down the number of internal Payette promotions such as pint nights and tastings at area bars and restaurants.
“It’s a tough balance,” Francis says.
The king of area brew-tasting festivals is the annual Barley Bros. Traveling Beer Show, which was held at Julius M. Kleiner Park in Meridian this summer. Attendance was down significantly from its heyday in Boise’s Ann Morrison Park, but the brewfest still lured about 2,500 paying customers over two days.
Look, we all can agree to raise a toast to any local beer festival. But should event organizers ponder the possibility of overkill in the not-so-distant future? It’s just something to chew on — besides those stale pretzels somebody slid down the bar.