The event organiser’s pourage rights contract with James Boag’s stipulates only four craft breweries can be involved in the event.
Local brewers, headed by Tasmanian Microbrewers Association president and Moo Brew head brewer Owen Johnston, are trying to negotiate with the Festivale committee to include more breweries next year.
“We’ve got the situation where we are getting more and more craft brewers and yet our representation at Festivale isn’t growing with it,” Owen said.
A spokesman for Lion, which owns Boags, told Brews News their arrangement with the event dealt with pourage rights.
“Boags’ long term arrangement with Festivale is primarily a pourage arrangement, whereby Boags beer is poured at the bars run by the Festivale Committee,” he said.
“As is typical, we get a return proportionate to the amount of our beer sold at the event and this means we are able to justify paying for the beer rights. If the event became a widespread beer tasting style event, that would change the role of the Festivale bars and have an impact on the value of those rights. Ultimately, it’s a matter for the organisers to take a view on the style of event they wish to run and how they make that work commercially.”
“Lion is always happy to look at ways to work with other brewers in the interests of our industry and we do this in Tasmania in the Tamar Valley Beer Festival where we have encouraged the participation of micro-brewers from across the Tamar Valley Region”.
While it is easy to see this as an example of big brewers excluding small, it seems to be more a case that the commercial arrangements being offered by the Festivale organisers are increasingly anachronistic. While many wine producers are encouraged to attend events, even though sponsorship rights assigned to one who stumps up the cash, beer is seen as one size fits all. Event organisers are willing to enter into lucrative commercial arrangements with one brewery that sees that brewery’s beer poured to the exclusion of all others, for the financial benefit of the event. That may have suited a time when it was a choice between Cascade and Boags, but with the range of breweries open today and the diversity of beer styles, Festival organisers need to realise that breweries can add as much colour and interest as wineries and not see assigning beer pourage rights to one brewery as an income stream in an event all about local flavour.
As one commentator on The Examiner’s site points out:
I ask that the committee go back and look at why Festivale is staged. I seem to remember something about local small businesses gaining exposure they wouldn’t normally get.
If Festivale is to run as a money making venture, Boags blocking the market is fine. But if the event is to showcase local small business, Boags is not the right partnership.
It comes back to what is the goal of the event?
The beer landscape is changing and local food events need to change with it.