I thought this was a fairly big scoop for me b/c nobody, I mean nobody had written anything that cast beer week into any doubt. Don’t get me wrong, I love the event but there were some
concerns this year that didn’t otherwise get publicly aired. Published in Philadelphia City Paper last month.
Philly Beer Week is a tricky proposition for local breweries and bar owners.
by Tara Nurin
Philly Beer Week (PBW), though hailed as a coup for the city’s craft-beer reputation, does not guarantee enhanced revenue for local bars and breweries. In fact, this year, many in the beer business came out of the 10-day event disappointed in sales, citing a variety of causes and effects for why PBW is a tricky proposition.
Before this PBW, Gene Muller, co-owner of Flying Fish, hoped he wouldn’t see a repeat of previous years, when bars that typically requested up to three of his kegs a week took a month or more to resume the practice. Unfortunately, he saw several events featuring Flying Fish canceled, and several others drawing too small a crowd to matter.
It’s a lot of the same for proprietors. London Grill’s Terry McNally lost money on a handful of her functions; she spent hundreds of dollars on beer for an event featuring Belgium’s Boon Brewery that failed to attract a single participant. McNally and others we spoke with blame the crush of PBW events, which numbered nearly 1,000 this year.
Another commonly cited scapegoat for PBW troubles is the 2010 festival’s migration from March to June — it’s believed an already-hectic event season (e.g. The Roots Picnic, the Manayunk bike race). This, combined with an existing dearth of gone-for-summer college students and shore-going residents, compounds difficulties for breweries and bars. Some participants are calling for a meeting with board members to urge them to cap the number of events and shift the festival back to March.
Though he promises he’ll survey feedback, PBW executive director Don Russell doesn’t believe his board should scale back Beer Week, return it to its original date or devote the entire first weekend to local beers, as some, like Yards founder Tom Kehoe, have recommended.