The Avery Invitational to Replace Strong Ale & Sour Fest this Summer
In craft beer, the old adage of “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” doesn’t necessarily apply. Even the most successful breweries, and industry events must continue to innovate in this most competitive and fast-evolving landscape.
Avery Brewing, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is no stranger to change, moving from its humble industrial alley to a state-of-the-art, 5.6-acre campus in 2015, and most recently selling a minority stake to Mahou San Miguel in November.And even though the pioneer of high octane and barrel-aged beers has found tremendous success in both their Strong Ale Fest and Sour Fest, the Boulder-based brewery has decided to shift their festival strategy this year to replace the two with an entirely new concept.
Enter The Avery Invitational Festival, which will debut June 2018, aimed at bringing together some of the industry’s best producers without any restriction to style or ABV. “With over a dozen festivals happening each weekend throughout the summer, we realized that our festivals started to feel a little bland,” noted Rachael Burrell, Events Manager for Avery Brewing. “We always want to ensure that our festivals are exciting for our attendees, volunteers, and participating breweries, so this year we decided to focus our attention on quality over quantity.”
The Avery team will also look to expand the overall footprint of the festival to incorporate approximately 200 participating breweries, whereas both the Strong Ale and Sour Fests averaged between 100-115 breweries. Invitations for participation will begin rolling out next week but in narrowing the list of prospective breweries, the Avery events team tasked their employees to contribute their list of favorites.
“In our quest to narrow down an invite list, we decided to poll our employees and sent out a company-wide survey. Basically, we asked if there’s any beer you’d like to see here, just say it. It was a fun list, and it helped us make it a more democratic process,” noted Burrell. “There’s some big beer nerds here and some that just like to drink coors banquet. It was a cool way to get everyone involved and narrow our list.”
But aside from just growing their brewery list, Avery also drew inspiration from the industry favorite, the Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines Festival, with the intent to incorporate an educational component to the fest. “We’ve learned a lot from what Laura Lodge has built at Big Beers, so we are hoping to add a sensory tasting, have Travis Rupp discussing his Ales of Antiquity, and Andy Parker will likely be giving a barrel talk for starters,” said Walter Becker, Events Coordinator at Avery Brewing.
Tickets for the Avery Invitational are slated to go on sale mid-to-late April and are projected at around the $40 price point range, with proceeds benefitting a yet-to-be-determined non-profit partner. We’ll have more to share as details are finalized.
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