Reader: Great American Beer Festival volunteers are trained to pour suds, not info

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The gang's all beer, now that the town is filling up with hops-heavy events in honor of the Great American Beer Festival, just a week away.

But while the GABF is popular, does it need a makeover? That's what Jonathan Shikes suggests in "Five ways to freshen up the Great American Beer Festival," with suggestions ranging from add another day to new lighting to better food. And then there are those clueless volunteers....

Concern about know-nothing volunteers brought this response from Nicole:

nteresting ideas. I definitely agree that the ambiance of the festival is somewhat lacking, and that it would be great to have more opportunities to talk to the brewers themselves. I think a lot of the issues you've pointed out and the challenge of changing them has to do with the size of the event. It's easier to keep things the way people expect them than to re-educate thousands on how it all works. As one of the volunteers who does know about beer, I agree it would be great to have them all educated on it, but again - how do you teach a few thousand volunteers everything about beer in advance of the event?

Good question...do you have an answer? Or other suggestions for how the GABF could be improved? Post your comment below, or join the GABF conversation already under way here.


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6 comments
Jay
Jay

They should have QR Codes at each brewery that attendees can scan to get a simple, concise description of the brewery and their beers optimized for smart phones.

Dave Butler
Dave Butler

In defense of the volunteers, the GABF does instruct their beer pouring volunteers to study up as much as possible about the beers they will be pouring from the brewers who are on hand.  But there usually is very little interaction (that I've seen) between the brewers and the volunteers.  Whenever I pour at the GABF, I try to understand as much as I can about what I'm pouring because I do get asked a lot of questions about the beers I'm pouring.  In order to speak about the beers I first have to taste them as well.  I always like to steer people towards some the best brews at my table if asked "What's good here?".  Different folk like different brews so I have to ask some questions back before I answer.

So if your volunteer appears to not know much about the brew, simply ask another next to them. One of them is bound to have some good insights to what's being poured.

JC
JC

How about giving preferences for volunteers who are certified beer servers? For example: if you are certified, you get to pick 10 choices of breweries you'd like to pour for.

Mark Antonation
Mark Antonation

Or they could just put a piece of paper on the table with the same description.

matt hughes
matt hughes

that would be great, but how many "certified" beer servers are out there and how many of them are volunteering to pour at GABF?

think i saw a tweet from Ray Daniels that they just certified their 7000th Beer Server...pretty sure that's worldwide.

JC
JC

Lots of people who really know beer volunteer to pour, and the certification test isn't that hard (the server portion).  I'd also imagine that an outsized number of that 7,000 are from places like Colorado.

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