Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Big Picture

Here’s video from last month's Garden State Craft Brewers Festival. To those who inquired more than once about its completion date, sorry for the delay. And to those who paused from their sampling or pouring to do an interview, many thanks.

If you went to the festival, you know the weather pretty much sucked. But thankfully the rain, while poncho-worthy, was intermittent. The guild puts the festival attendance at 630, and the event marked the New Jersey debut of Iron Hill Brewery. (IH co-founder Mark Edelson and head brewer Chris Lapierre took time do interviews for the video.)

A word about the guild fests
We’ll take this moment to repeat an oft-said point (on this blog, at least): Having the festival in Camden, or South Jersey if you want to track it regionally, is fine if there will be at least a second festival, specifically in North Jersey. You could toss in a third for the middle part of the state, since New Jersey is actually and distinctly of three regions, as far as its cultural stylings go.

A single festival in South Jersey becomes forgettable in the long run, and North Jersey folks can be hard-pressed to drum up the desire to travel the distance (a shout-out to Tom Eagan of the Destination Beer blog, who did come down from Jersey City on the 20th and made an admirable daytrip of things). And for argument’s sake, if there were but a single festival in North Jersey, the shoe of disdain would be on South Jersey’s foot.

So two festivals becomes important. At some point, it's about branding, and brand awareness. And by branding, we mean broadly speaking the New Jersey brand, the big picture, collectively the great beers made by the pub and craft brewers inside the state’s borders.

Since the guild’s festival is the only one that’s granted the dispensation to have the beer poured by the people who made it (therefore brewers can really talk to the consumers), it becomes important again to capitalize on that opportunity for face time with the beer-consuming public and remind those folks not just about your beer, but your very existence (you can’t do tastings at the package stores in this state). Because there’s a flood of beer on the store shelves from across the country and around the world, almost too much to choose from, sort of Alvin Toffler-ish/Future Shock-like, when you consider that back in the 1980s, the choices were dramatically narrower. The home team is in peril of being overshadowed by the plethora of labels now. (Yet once upon a time, Jersey had a plethora of labels brewed within its borders.)

It’s good for the consumer, the veritable panorama of choices, but not so hot for the concept of buying local being the new organic.

And that, in the end, is the big picture.

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