Thursday, April 17, 2014

Greenville Craft Beer Week: A great local celebration

Earlier this month, all us local beer lovers in Greenville got to celebrate the city's very first Craft Beer Week. I was able to make it out to several of the activities, including one of Thomas Creek's infamous keg tap nights, Quest's first Thursday Night Concert Series of the season, and The Community Tap Craft Beer Fest. In fact, both Thomas Creek and Quest had special beers that they released during the week, which made their events all the more exciting...but of course the Beer Fest was the crown jewel of it all.

Quest Brewing's Thursday Night Concert Series

I was lucky enough to meet Vance and Brook at the festival, and after speaking with them for a bit I asked if I could email them some questions about why and how they organized the week's activities. They were nice enough to oblige, and here are their answers!

Greenville Craft Beer Week Organizers

1) How and why did you decide to put together Greenville Craft Beer Week?

Vance: Brook and I started thinking about it while sharing a few beers sometime this past fall. We started putting down a few ideas just for fun because we honestly didn't think it would happen this soon. We'd talk about it here and there, but nothing serious. One Saturday in January, Andrew Watts from Quest Brewing Co. asked several of us on Facebook if we thought sometime in 2014 might be too early for a Greenville Craft Beer Week...there was so much support and excitement for the idea that we started thinking, "Hey, we might actually be able to do this." As to the "why", we really wanted a week that celebrated our local beer scene to actually come from the locals who are passionate about it. There is a huge focus on all things local in Greenville, so it just made sense.

Brook: Like many things, the conversation started over a beer. [Originally] the conversation was in regards to other cities' craft beer weeks, and eventually it turned into a discussion about how Greenville is in the evolution of its beer culture. Vance and I decided that we thought Greenville was probably ready, but we didn’t want to rush anything...we wanted to make sure that it was done right, with a local focus.

2) When did you first start planning it?

B: Believe it or not, although Vance and I discussed ideas last year, we started in January. The original plan was for a craft beer week in 2015...but then it turned into a “why not now?” type of thing, and everything came together seamlessly. 

V: Yeah, sometime around last fall we were talking about a few ideas for a possible craft beer week, but it wasn't until that week around mid-January where we started serious planning. We knew we wanted to tie it to The Community Tap Beer Fest, so we knew we had to work fast. It all came together pretty well though.

3) What was the most challenging thing about organizing it?

B: The most challenging thing about doing something that hasn’t been done before is knowing that it hasn’t been done before.  With no precedent to work off of, you’re constantly questioning whether something will work or not. Yes, we have the benefit of studying events and beer weeks in other cities, but what works in one place might not translate.

V: Agreed. That was always hanging over our heads. We wanted all of the events to be a success, but you just never know how it's going to work out. The time constraints were also an issue.. We had to try to put everything together in about 2 months. Luckily, everyone was on board and willing to do whatever it took make sure this week happened. It was still a bit of a whirlwind, though.

4) What was your favorite thing about organizing it/what did you feel was the most fun thing about doing so?

V: For me, the most fun part of all of this was seeing the events actually go well. With this being the first time any of us had done something like this, we didn't really know what to expect. We thought we had put together a pretty good week, but you never know until it's actually happening. It's just good to know that everyone enjoyed the week and that it went so smoothly.

B: It has to be the satisfaction of knowing that people were attending and enjoying the events.  I had plenty of people come up to me to say things like, "Thank you for helping grow the beer culture in Greenville".  That made it all worth it.

5) Will it be happening again next year? Will there be anything different or exciting for next year?

V: We're planning on it! We're going to try to sit down soon to discuss issues from this year and start looking towards next year. It's a little too early to know for sure about next year, but there were some ideas that couldn't work this year that we hope to add next year. We really wanted to do some sort of charity event as well as an outdoor activity (like a hike or bike event on the Swamp Rabbit Trail), so hopefully that will work out for next year. There are a couple of other things we've been thinking about, but I don't want to give away too much yet!

B: We just finished with craft beer week, so we haven't done any evaluation yet. There will most certainly be things that change. However, my expectation is that it will definitely be back next year, and better than ever.

6) Do you have any plans for similar activities throughout the year?

V: We honestly haven't thought that far ahead yet. We were so focused on just getting through this week that we haven't had time to think about anything else. If we do decide to do anything though, you'll probably hear about it first on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

B: It’s possible. I think once we turn the page from this year’s craft beer week, we can discuss that. I think that the week showed craft beer enthusiasts in this area that anyone can help grow our beer culture. I'm sure you'll see many events pop up whether Vance and I are working on them or not.

Anderson Valley pouring samples at The Community Tap Beer Fest. I just loved their weird tap!

I highly suggest liking/following the Greenville Craft Beer Week Facebook and Twitter pages. Keep an eye on them, because there are sure to be future events that you won't want to miss!
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