Christmas Craft Beer Show Review #1 – The Event

December 2nd and 3rd were the first annual Christmas Craft Beer Show. Having already written up a preview, I figured it only appropriate to come back and do a post-mortem to see what went well, what could be improved, and what was missing.

To be fair, I only attended the Saturday, but in a way, it works out even better to review the second day, as minor hiccups that could be addressed before day 2 should have been long gone.

In addition, for the random individual just there to have a good time and not looking at details, most of these flew under the radar. It was a good event overall, with just some fine-tuning to be done.

Prior to the event, there were a lot of questions about who was putting on the event, what beers were going to be there, what food was going to be there, and more. This wasn’t really answered until attendees got to the event, which may have been intentionally done to create suspense, but being able to plan ahead for what beers I will have, what food will be available, and what the layout will be is something I prefer being able to do. A beer list about 48 hours in advance would be nice, or even an app going over what to expect, similar to what GCBF managed to do this year, would just add to the event.

It was understood that doors were at 1:00 PM, and while they opened a few minutes late, entry was relatively smooth. I only wish they had created a staging area in the lobby to allow people into the building prior to the event, as the Great Canadian Beer Festival does. This would have allowed token sales to take place before the event, and reduced the lines considerably, as well as allowing people to warm up before the beer started flowing.

Once in, the beers were ready to go, and everything went really well, until I went to follow my rule of water between beers. They had set up two 7 gallon water jugs at the token tables. Those were the only ones I saw, and I found that quite disappointing especially considering the breweries we using those jugs to fill their rinse pitchers, and they were empty on a semi-regular basis. With the setup they had in place, I would have expected 6-8 jugs at least.

With regards to the layout, it was a tight fit. Lineups were hard to distinguish, as many people stood between the booths to drink. This was compounded by a large dance floor that was barely used, no seating inside the rink area and minimal seating out by the concessions. A possible improvement to the layout might have been to move some of the booths out to the concourse to allow for more movement of the attendees, which would have also made visibly intoxicated individuals more noticeable to security.

The food was good, with a selection of the standard fare, hot dogs, fries, etc. Along with those, a few options were specially made for the event, with fried pretzel bites and aged IPA cheese sauce, bratwurst, and ribs. The food was good, and relatively inexpensive, although I did hear complaints about the lack of vegan options, and that bringing in a food truck or two would have been a nice addition to the event.

Staff were fantastic, and very helpful at all times. They were even quite understanding when I tried to drop off my door prize form after 4, which was apparently the cut off that was never specified anywhere.

Looking back at this, it might seem a little harsh, but like I said, I was looking for potential improvements to work on. It was a fantastic event, and I had a blast. The event organizers should be proud of what they put together for a first time event, and with feedback like this, I can only hope next year is an amazing event that has turned things up to 11.

I will be posting a short review of some of the beers I had the chance to try, along with some of the beers I missed out on in the next day or two.

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