Thursday, February 23, 2012

Omaha Beer Week 2012 Review

A couple weeks have passed since the completion of the first Omaha Beer Week and by all accounts it was a tremendous success with only some minor glitches. In speaking with a few of the people that helped organize it and were involved in it, having only minor glitches was a surprise and I understand what they mean. Think about the scope of this thing and the fact that many of the participants and attendees have never been to and in some cases never heard of such a concept like a "beer week," to have only a few issues that need to be addressed is a great accomplishment. I am going to lay out what I heard and in some cases experienced, both the pros and the cons. First, the pros.


The week was filled with events, you could do many things and try many different beers in many locations every day. The week was not lacking in opportunities for things to do. The highlights for many were the beer dinners that many locations had. I also appreciated some of the rare beer events and having brewery representatives there to discuss the beer was an added bonus. I am not going to pinpoint one event over another because I didn't get to many and the rest of our blog crew couldn't get to them all.

Another big pro I saw was just the sheer look of enjoyment, as well as exhaustion, on beer geeks all over. Everyone I spoke with or tweeted with was just beaming with joy and excitement for the things they were doing and tasting. The passion for the event was tremendous. This went for the owners of the establishments as well.

Last big pro was the promotion, granted promotion can always improve, but when I am 4 hours away from Omaha and I am hearing about Omaha Beer Week on my local radio station and people are coming up to me asking me about Omaha Beer Week and if I heard about it, the promotion was working well and at very minimal cost. Omaha embraced it and will only continue to embrace it.

Now on to the Cons, let me preface this with the fact that just because there are more cons it doesn't mean this was not successful. The cons are minor tweaks that should be looked at and in talking with people most will agree with me on this I believe. Again, just minor issues easily fixed in most cases.


Probably the biggest complaints came about regarding the Bus tour and the delay of the buses. I don't think anyone expected such a large response to this event. You add in bad weather and it made it worse. The prevailing opinion is we need more buses, short stops and a nominal charge to use the buses to prevent drunk crawls by those that aren't there for the beer. I think these are all fantastic ideas. I was not there for the buses but monitered twitter, facebook, and just talked to people and these all seemed like easily fixable things. Even with these issues, people had a great time that night and still looked past the problems and had fun, very cool

An issue I noticed was some communication/website issues. Not all bars were represented on the site, some to their doing and some because of technical issues. This is a very easy fix, site is in place now and things will get done a lot easier next year.

One issue I have and I know other communities have is this is just Omaha Beer Week, not Nebraska Beer Week. There are a lot of issues with that, but with Lincoln really growing in craft beer and other communities around the state having breweries this may be something to consider in the future. Not really a con, just a wish list. :-) Something needs to be said that Omaha started this and they have every right to have it just theirs, this is just a suggestion to make it more inclusive because I am not sure the other communities, except Lincoln, could support a full week of stuff but would still want to participate.

I also heard a few comments that the time of year might not be the best. We got lucky for the most part on the weather but the first few weeks of February could be brutal cold and snowy, which could cause all kinds of problems. I love the anchor event of Extreme Beer Fest but there are plenty of other events throughout the year that would work as anchors too. Just something to consider.

Lastly, a very small thing but, where were the t-shirts? I know we had glasses but I had a few people at our booth ask us why no Omaha Beer Week shirts were made or sold. Fair question. I think some sweet shirts could be made with the breweries listed on the back like a rock t-shirt or something.

Overall, I think a standing ovation is in order for pulling off such a great event for the first time. The few cons/suggestions are minor at best and things that were being openly discussed at most events that I attended amongst members that helped organize it, so it isn't a real surprise.

What did you think? What were your pros and cons? Let's use this post as a sounding board for those that help organize the next one to make it even better. Be respectful and constructive please.


Tom said...

There were so many events that the list format used on the website became hard to use for me. a calendar format for events with headings only and click for further detail would have been nice. It may also been nice to categorize events by type, dinner, pint night, fest, special release...

I like the idea of Omaha Beer Week, and would support Lincoln Beer Week as well. Maybe the rest of Nebraska should source Omaha beers and have a special on them to get involved. As far a going state wide we do have the Great Nebraska Beerfest hosted by NBC that could anchor a state-wide promotion. If there is time in between i think local and state promotions could both coexist.

FeBREWary has a drawback of cold weather, but also has the benefit of the fact that not a lot else is going on. It makes getting to events a lot easier that it would be if it was hosted in spring, summer, fall, or holiday seasons.

A huge thanks to everyone that helped make OBW a reality. I saw a lot of tired faces at Extreme Beerfest, but I think it was for the better.

Pete said...

Amazingly T-Shirts were available... I found 5 of the same at Jake's in Benson 3 weeks after the event. Had not a clue they were around. Look great, and Thank Goodness they actually had one that would fit me :D

Lots of great things going on in town, just was hard to find all of them, the websites were not updated or they did not have the same information as here on the blog. Some of the events were great, others just regular beer nights. Needs to be special things. Glass is great, and for the specials too, But who wants to lug the thing around all day. Weeklong Armband, nice pin or ski lift tag. Better yet a medalion like the beers win at GABF would be something to think about (since all the bars have glassware). Always love a new glass, but easy to break and easy to leave at home, especially in the cold when you have coat, gloves, hat and the rest to keep track of.

Do not belive there would be any issues paying a bit more for it if it included the bus and discounts all week and other things.

Ken said...

Not a bad first year for this event. Discounts abound (with special pint glass) and plenty of things to do and see during every one of the 10 days.

The bus tour on Sat. 2/4 definitely will need some fine tuning before next year. Lots of complaints about being left or stranded at certain bars and buses not circling on a regular schedule.

Overall, I'm looking forward to OBW 2013 and hope to get even more local participation next year.