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The Session #96: Beer festivals and context

Oregon Brewers Festival attendees map

The SessionYou learn something every day. Joan Villar-i-Martí, host of the 96th gathering of The Session (which means it has been around a full 8 years), explains in her his own post the difference between beer fairs and beer festivals in Spain. Context always matters.

Backing up a moment, Joan has asked us to write about “Festivals: Geek Gathering or Beer Dissemination?”

Now back to the value of context, this time from John Duffy in Ireland. The Beer Nut points out they are both in his home country, but then writes about “The third way” and “I’ve found them to be a great way of learning about any particular country’s brewing…. Even smaller ones like Borefts or Quartiere In Fermento, in my experience, really help with understanding what’s happening with beer in other places.”

The photo at the top was taken at the Oregon Brewers Festival last July. The pins mark the places festival attendees come from (or say they do — it’s not like they are checking passports). It would seem many people travel a long way to attend OBF in Portland. This must at some level qualify them as geeks.

Joan writes about the role beer fairs play in dissemination, praising “proselytism in its purest state.” But even without proselytism, I think OBF provides context — which may be different for somebody visiting from Spain, from Missouri, or from eastern Oregon — that results in dissemination. And the context matters to both geeks and whatever you call the other people.

Returning to the context of Spain: “The following editions of BBF (Barcelona Beer Festival) attracted 25.000 people each, drawing some international attention too. Our internal estimates (I joined the organisation team just after the first edition) tell us that 95% of the attendees are general public. The other 5% wear Rock Band black t-shirts or have a hop tattooed on their body. That means lots of people experiencing that there’s a world beyond Estrella, which is not appealing to some of the big guys.”

(This is probably the wrong thing to type here, because it detours back to the topic already overanalyzed this week, but were a large brewing company to film a commercial at the festival to portray the people not drinking its beer guess which 5% would end up in the final cut.)

What happens in New Haven, Mo., or New Ulm, Minn., or [pick another town and another country] isn’t necessarily on the scale of BBF and OBF. That doesn’t make it any different. Dissemination is where you find it.


Visit Blog Birraire to read more contributions to The Session.

3 Responses to The Session #96: Beer festivals and context

  1. The Beer Nut February 6, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    Ta for the mention.

    Btw, Joan is a boy’s name – Catalan for John.

    • Stan Hieronymus February 6, 2015 at 10:23 am #

      Thanks. Another example of context, of course.

  2. Joan Birraire February 6, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    Thanks for citing the article, Stan. About the 5% it was just a humorous way to put it: I’d be one of them, for instance. The only way you could notice who is who would be: 1. knowing most of them, as we do. 2. monitor their scribbling and picture taking ratio vs time in the festival.

    Oh, and thanks for changing my genre back to its original state :-). Cheers!

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