These are not the kind of reviews Beers in Sac was hoping for after its first-ever Hazy IPA Fest, but they are exactly what you’ll find on the event’s Facebook page.
‘A 5-hour event runs out of beer half way thru? I didn’t realize it was first come, first served. On a high point I do have two Hazy IPA Fest glasses that were never used. Oh wait….. Why is that a high point?’ – Facebook Review
‘Unfortunately, there were way too many people in a small amount of space.’ – Facebook Review
‘Lines, lines and more lines! By the time we got in and we’re able to purchase beer tokens it was 6pm and some places were already out of beer!!!!’ – Facebook Review
“It really is kind of basic what people expect when they go to these kinds of events,” says Beers in Sac’s Scott Scoville. “Obviously, there’s going to be lines, but it shouldn’t be super long lines or having to wait in multiple lines for too long. And you just can’t run out of beer.”
Unfortunately for Beers in Sac, both these things happened. Just two hours into the region’s first brewfest dedicated to the haze craze and breweries were running dry. It lead to the first-ever refunds issued by Beers in Sac at one of its events and some harsh criticism online.
“A few people made some comments on social media and I’ve got to be honest I agree with almost everything everyone is saying,” Scoville admits.
So where did it go wrong? Scoville says the answer is actually pretty simple.
“We anticipated at a max 750 to 1,000 people. But obviously we grossly underestimated what the attendance was going be,” says Beers in Sac’s Scott Scoville. “I was blown away at how many people came out. It was probably three times the amount that we expected.”
Scoville says this was the first time they hosted a brewfest with free admission. The idea was to offer a cheaper alternative to your traditional beer festival where instead of paying $30 to $40 for admission you could spend less than $20 on a couple drink tickets, have a beer or two and then leave. But with free admission, there was no way to predict how large the crowd would be and it turned out to be huge.
This lead to problems beyond scarce beer. The lines were long to get in, to buy beer tokens and to get beer. Despite the large size of the California Automobile Museum, space was tight because the event layout was intended for a much small crowd.
“We liked the amount of space in there. There’s enough space in there, we just didn’t utilize it correctly,” Scoville says. He also admits that had they known the size of the crowd they would have, “double the point of sales, double the staffing, we probably would have doubled up everything.”
Chances are if you arrived early and only stayed for about an hour or two you probably didn’t notice any problems. In fact, you probably had a great time.
‘We showed up early and had a great time!! Looking forward to next year for less lines and more beer.’ – Facebook Review
But those who arrived after seven, especially those who bought pre-sale tickets, did not find the event they were expecting. And some didn’t get any beer because around 7:30, Scoville says they had no choice but to stop selling beer tokens.
“We made the tough call, the tough decision to just cut it off and at least try to create an event for the people that were already there and try to salvage the rest of the night.” He says it was a decision that allowed them to have at least some beer until 10.
“You can throw a million great brewfests and then you have one that has some glaring weaknesses, I had a hard time sleeping last night,” says Scoville. “I wasn’t happy with the way it went.”
Scoville says the response from the breweries and the California Automobile Museum has been positive and that the event will most likely come back next year.
“We’ll probably look at expanding into the rest of the Cal Auto Museum. Obviously, bringing in more breweries and making sure we have enough beer. We’d probably do a ticketed event and capping it somewhere around a thousand,” he says. “This is an event that people do want and I know we can do a better job at it next year.”