GroundFloor Media & CenterTable Blog

GFM client Oskar Blues will be well-represented again at this year's GABF.
GFM client Oskar Blues will be well-represented again at this year’s GABF.

We often write about crisis and issues management scenarios in this space that focus on things that go wrong. Ill-timed announcements, scandals, social media faux pas, and similar situations are the norm, but what about situations where extreme success results in an issue of its own?

That’s exactly what the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) is dealing with this October. When brewer registration opened on July 9th, the festival was sold out within two hours. Not for attendees, mind you, but for the brewers who pay to pour sample beers and enter brews for judging.

There’s no doubt that more than 300 breweries on the GABF wait list is a result of the explosive growth in the craft beer industry (an 18% increase in breweries from 2011 to 2012 and a 21% increase from 2012 to 2013), but could GABF organizers have planned for such a scenario?

As it stands, dozens of breweries have to be turned away from participating in the festival, and some are even planning their own festival during the GABF in response. As is the case with nearly any issue or crises, the key takeaway shouldn’t necessarily be “planning for the unknown,” but rather, how do we quickly and effectively address the unknown when it happens? As it stands currently, it’s been nearly two months since the registration debacle and the brewers association’s statement has been “a long term solution is still in the works.”

Jim Licko is a senior director of social media and digital strategy at GroundFloor Media, an avid craft beer fan, and is hopeful that his hometown beer festival can find a way to manage it’s success before brewers decide to go elsewhere.

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