Beer festival season is in full swing this October. Dozens of CAMRA and other independent festivals are taking place up and down the country and several major cities are hosting German style Oktoberfest celebrations.
Many argue that these events have done a lot for British beer scene which has reached new heights in the past couple of years.
Others say that beer festivals are just another example of changing drinking habits. New habits like drinking supermarket bought larger at home have definitely hurt British pubs - but do beer festivals have the same effect?
We think that if pub landlords embrace the festival season, rather than trying to compete with it, then they can attract more customers and increase takings through October and beyond.
The growing appetite for beer and beer festivals
There is a growing appetite for beer in the UK. That’s part of the reason for the growing popularity of British beer festivals.
Just in October you’ll be able to visit a beer festival in:
Bolton, Milton Keynes, Gainsborough, Oxford, Cambridge, Sheffield, Swindon, Twickenham, Norwich, Didsbury, Worthing and Birmingham.
And thanks to the growing popularity of German beer (and dare we say German culture?), you can visit an Oktoberfest inspired event in:
Manchester, Liverpool, London, Glasgow, Leicester and many other places.
How pubs can profit from festivals
Below you’ll find a few ideas on how to make the most of this festival season.
Some beer festivals are held in big venues like sports stadiums but there are many more small festivals popping up in pubs and clubs as well. This month JD Wetherspoons and JW Lees are both holding ale festivals in some of their locations.
Holding your own beer festival is a great way of attracting customers who might not usually stop in. Once they’re through the door you have the chance to impress them and possibly even turn them into regulars.
If you run a freehold pub then you should be able to source a different array of beers which people might not have tried before.
Local ales are always a popular choice. Try inviting some smaller local breweries to come and show off their tipples. You can advertise your festival with organisations like CAMRA or on sites such as AleTalk
. Or promote your pub using social media
- Run an Oktoberfest-themed night
If you don’t fancy planning a full blown ale festival then try an Oktoberfest-inspired night.
It doesn’t have to be an overly tacky theme night, but some subtle touches could be a good way of attracting new customers while not offending your regulars.
German beer, staff in Lederhosen and Bratwursts will all help to create an authentic feel. And if you want to make a few more sales at the bar then a traditional Bavarian band will usually get the party going and the beer flowing.
- Canvas your local beer festival
If you don’t have the time or the resources to set up your own festival then you can always go and canvas outside your local beer festival – where there’s no shortage of likely customers.
CAMRA, the interest group which runs a lot of these festivals is always keen to help out pubs in the area so ask your local branch if you can set up a stand on festival day. You could run a parlour game for prizes (free pint of your favourite beer) or just hand out discount cards if people visit in the next week.
Utility Helpline are great at helping pubs bring down their energy costs. We always find our customers the right deal on their gas and electricity and our help and advice can help bring down consumption too. If you run a pub and want to find out more visit the Publican and Licenced Page.