On Tuesday, the Brewers Association opened brewery registration for The Great American Beer Festival. Each year, the registration list fills up within days. Last year, it only took two days for 580 breweries to sign up. This year, however, it only took less than two hours for 600 breweries.When you have a first-come system, you end up with things like multiple branches of the Californian Pizza Port chain getting in while stand-alones from around the country stood with their noses on the glass looking in. No one thinks that's a great idea. Now the Fest has a new plan. From event director Nancy Johnson:
Complicating this year’s registration were server issues, something that has become quite common with limited events.
The 2014 GABF brewery will remain open for set number of days, and all interested breweries may enter the competition. The number of beer entries allowed per brewery will be based on doing the math of the number of breweries that registered during the sign-up period and the pre-determined capacity of beers that we can successfully judge that year.
Here is an example to illustrate:
- Total number of beers that can be judged = 5,000
- The registration period lasts (is open) for two weeks; no clambering to enter during one short time window
- Total number of eligible breweries that apply = 1,000
- 5,000 beers / 1000 breweries = 5 entries per brewery
- Thus in this scenario, the competition would accept the first 5 entries from every brewery that entered
- Let’s say 2,500 breweries entered instead of 1,000: in that case, every brewery could enter 2 beers in the competition. The math would work like that for whatever number of breweries entered (Max. capacity of beers that can be judged – divided by – number of breweries entering the competition)
As a postscript, the GABF still has other registration woes:
Tickets to the 2013 Great American Beer Festival that were available to the general public were snatched up in a record-breaking 20 minutes Wednesday, causing many fans to vent frustration about scalpers suspected of crashing craft beer's biggest party and prompting more questions about whether the event needs a makeover.This is going to be a lot harder to fix, though the folks from Denver could look north for some solutions. The GABF gets 49,000 attendees in three days, and there's no way to fold space to get more people in the convention center. But they could, like the Oregon Brewers Fest, add more days. That seemed to work out pretty well.