Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lincoln Beer Week interview

The collaborative craft beer scene in Lincoln played host to the first-ever Lincoln Beer Week (August 11-17). I had a chance to talk with Jason McLaughlin and Jesse Erickson, two of the event organizers to find more about what went into creating such an event and their goals for it.

>>>What is Lincoln Beer Week (LBW)?
LBW is a week dedicated to drinking great craft beer. With the growing number of microbreweries in Lincoln and the ever-growing number of craft beer selections available at restaurants, stores, and bars; it gives those in the capital city a chance to celebrate this, as well as hopefully introducing macro-brew drinkers to some new favorites. 

The week is also designed to be educational and fun. Many of the local events and tastings had brewery reps available to answer questions and help patrons connect with the beers that they were enjoying.

>>>Why did August 11-17 become LBW? What were the creative & planning processes behind LBW?

It was designed to be a lead-in for the Jake's Cigars Lincoln Block Party on August 17th. 

There had been some previous discussions about launching a beer week in Lincoln but it turns out it was a mixed blessing that led to the creation of the first-ever LBW in 2013. The block party at Jake's was originally supposed to take place on May 4th but was postponed due to snow in the area the first week in May. That gave us, along with Jake's Lincoln manager Dianna Gutsche, a little bit longer to lay out our event plan. During that time, there was quite a bit of brainstorming involved including what venues & businesses to partner with along with the design of our event logo. Technology definitely was important in helping this all come together while still leading our normal lives.

>>>What is the Lincoln beer scene like today and what are the goals of the first LBW?

Lincoln has a very active craft beer scene. There are lots of choices and places to find a good craft beer. The people of Lincoln have always been great when it comes to supporting their own and generating interest in LBW has been no exception. From places like Yia Yia's Pizza & Beer and Zipline Brewing to the local homebrewing scene, one does not have to go far to find fans of craft beer in the capital city.

The main goals of LBW are to showcase those great local breweries and venues that are really striving to change what the masses think about beer and how good craft beer really is.

>>>Did other area craft beer weeks (Omaha Beer Week, for example) help to get the inaugural LBW off the ground?

Alex Diimig, the general manager of Jake's Cigars Omaha and the president of the OBW board helped us out a lot. We didn't need to reinvent the wheel and Alex walked us through some of the legal items and things we did not previously consider. His insight and experience from the past few years of OBW was great.

>>>As the Lincoln craft beer scene continues to grow, is there enough room at the table for everyone? Will there be a plateau anytime soon?

(Jason McLaughlin jokingly stated: "As long as zombies don't take over the city.")
Its a exciting time in the craft beer world locally and interest should only continue to grow in the coming years. 

On a national scene, craft beer interest continues to be high as well. We do realize that there a few bars and breweries in various areas of the country that care less about quality and more about money they make. Those in that minority will fizzle out with time but craft beer as a whole is definitely here to stay.

>>>Anything else you would like to add?

It was a very fast planning process for us but we're happy with the end result in the first year. The city of Lincoln is our home too and we are very thankful for everyone who participated in this first year of LBW. It is because of the local craft beer fans and their support that this event even happened this year.  Again, thank you.

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