Beer Festivals are usually a good time. With much excitement, my girlfriend and I signed up for the annual Brewers Picnyc held on Sunday, May 29 on Governor’s Island (festival was also held for a second day on Monday, May 30). The description told of numerous food trucks and breweries represented. Four levels of tickets existed, with the VIP level costing $85 (or $55 through a special thrillist.com offer), which is what we purchased. In addition to unlimited food/beer sampling, the VIP ticket allowed entrants an extra hour of fun, starting at 11am (the entire festival ran until 5pm). The day started with a short ferry ride from Manhattan to Governor’s Island and a short walk from the Ferry terminal to Colonel’s Row, where the festival took place.
The setup was a fence-in rectangular area with the food trucks and beer stands set up along the perimeter along with some picnic tables in the middle of the space. It had all the makings of a great day of warm weather, fun, craft beer and good food. However, it soon became clear that this event was not going to live up to its billing. The first problem was the 11am start time. On Sundays, thanks to New York State Blue laws, no establishment can serve alcohol before noon. So, that one hour for which many VIP ticket holders arrived early, did not include beer, just the food.
Once clock struck noon, it did not take much time for the lines at the three beer stands to grow very long. In many cases, people were waiting in line for over 20 minutes for one beer. The breweries represented were Brooklyn Brewery, Six Point and Goose Island; not the nearly ten we were told in some of the advertising. In fact, later in the festival, the Six Point stand started pouring beers from the Greenport, Long Island and Two Brothers breweries. So, even though the number of breweries was more than three, there were still only three beer stands. That was disgraceful. You cannot advertise an event as a beer festival and have only three stands serving beer to hundreds of participants. Furthermore, one beer stand didn’t even have enough cups to serve the draft beer. Other lowlights of the day:
1. Some of the food trucks ran out of food less than halfway through the festival
2. Lines were long for food as well.
3. Only part way through did we VIP ticket holders learn that we did not have to wait in the long lines for beer.
4. Overheard one event staffer say not too long after noon: “This is insane… not going well… We need to do something now”
In conclusion, this was a disappointing festival and I will not attend to next year’s event. I hope the organizers can correct the errors, particularly by doing the following:
1. Adding more beer stands;
2. Increasing the number of breweries to at least ten;
3. Advising the food trucks to bring more food so that they do not run out of food mid-way through the event;
4. Not making the Sunday no-alcohol-served-before-noon mistake again by allowing the festival to run from 1pm until 6pm and let the extra hour for VIP ticket holders start at noon.
If they cannot take these necessary steps, I urge all potential participants to stay away from this event next year and beyond.
Did you attend the event? Either way, please share your thoughts on my commentary and suggestions.