With social gatherings on pause, we’ve been talking about virtual beer festivals with a lot of event organizers. These online experiences can be a great way to support local craft breweries while keeping a tribe of beer lovers connected. Many aspects of a normal brewfest still exist within an online experience, so let’s look at what make these virtual beer festivals special and how you can host more great events.
#BrrrFest was a blast.
We returned to Coralville, Iowa for their 9th annual winter beer festival. Our beer festival app was back in action and easier to manage than ever. Event organizers spent no time herding tigers, yet 100% of the 61 vendors had their BrrFest beer lists looking sharp! This allowed 3,000+ attendees to rate any of the 300 craft beers being poured. In fact, before the doors even opened, 3,323 beers were added to wish lists, which continues to prove our platform builds hype, sells tickets and is appreciated by hop heads planning their own brewfest experience.
Once the doors opened, our team enjoyed sharing stories of our good friend Dan from Firetrucker and celebrating endless good beer with a community of beer lovers and the artists who brew them. Attendees rated more beers than last year’s event and after a tight race that saw beers going up and down the leaderboard, the Iowa Brewers Guild was proud to deliver our Best of Fest Award to Big Grove Brewery. Here’s the milestone moment and a few words from our winners on video, as well as, our full 2020 festival summary and highlight photos. Cheers!
The 2019 Festival of Iowa Beers featured 49 Iowa breweries who served up 197 different craft beers to 1,200 beer lovers. Here’s the FoIB app and let’s peek inside this 15th annual event with a look at the data generated from within our beer festival app!
The 100th brewery just opened in Iowa and this chill gathering continues to feel like the industry’s chance to celebrate together. Our team really enjoys #FoIB, which hosted at Millstream, the state’s very first brewery, and it was a treat to once again collaborate with the Iowa Brewers Guild to activate our beer festival app. It’s exciting to see how our slick platform continues to unlock new levels of attendee engagement, while saving serious time for event organizers and providing valuable data for everyone.
It was also neat to see our Best of Fest Award create more fun competition between brewers, who are all passionate about the beer they brew. Jack and Lucas from Flix Brewhouse came into this event with a clear goal of taking home the hoppy hardware and by actively encouraging attendees to rate the beers they sampled, this team was able to create all sorts of hype around their beers. After their DDH Nebulas IPA won Best of Fest, we all celebrated together and actually decided to visit their a brewery for a post-event tour in Des Moines! This award is just so much fun, so thanks to everyone who used our Vendor Portal to showcase their beers in the beer festival app, congrats to Flix Brewhouse (Instagram/Twitter) and we’ll see all you beer lovers again soon…cheers!
Our team once again collaborated with the Iowa Brewers Guild to activate our beer festival app. Since 2018, we’ve optimize the event organizer’s experience to save time, expanded how vendors manage their own beer lists and unlocked new ways attendees can plan, track and share their brew fest experience. This commitment has resulted in an affordable platform that does everything it needs to do, without unwanted fluff. As you can see from this ICBF summary, our event app fuels meaningful engagement and all sorts of interesting analytics for event organizers, vendors and the community overall.
One new element we brought to life was our “Best of Fest Award”. Our tap handle trophy was given to the brewery with the beer that received the highest/most ratings within the FliteBrite app during the event. This award was fun to make and had brewers excited as well.
We tracked all the data in real-time and enjoyed a random reveal (see video below) as everyone scattered after the event. It was neat to see how much our award winners (Franklin Street Brewing Company from Manchester, Iowa) appreciated the award and we had a great time celebrating with them afterwards. With so much interesting data at our finger tips, we’re excited to award more of these at future events!
#BrrrFest was a sold out winter beer festival and a hoppy good time.
We had a blast collaborating with the event organizers, breweries and over 2,500 thirsty beer lovers before, during and after this event. We’re proud to share our beer festival app worked flawlessly and fueled fresh industry data that was fun to analyze. Organized and well executed by a team of volunteers, this 8th annual beer festival united 61 Iowa breweries, cideries and distilleries for an awesome brewfest experience. Here’s our BrrrFest summary!
This was the third full implementation of our beer festival app and we’re thrilled to share it was a milestone event. Our new Vendor Portal received 100% adoption from 61 different breweries who each setup their own vendor profile beforehand and agreed the app onboarding was easy as key lime pie. It was also a pleasure collaborating with the BrrrFest organizing committee, the City of Coralville and once again, our good friends at the Iowa Brewers Guild.
One of our favorite data points from this event, was the pre-event traffic and user research. As you can see above, 3,961 beers were added to a wish list prior to the doors opening at this beer festival! After three different types of events, it’s clear using FliteBrite to showcase a beer festival’s vendors and beer list allows organizing teams to connect with thirsty attendees as they tap into events. Here’s one more peek at the BrrrFest app:
Along with enjoying this FliteBrite app for our own adventures (Ben tracked 100% of the 25 beers he tasted!), we love watching beer enthusiasts track memorable brews that used to be forgotten amongst the malty madness. Key takeaways were that BrrrFest is a blast, but beyond just a great time, the FliteBrite beer festival app is now easier than ever to implement, fun for everyone and we’re now ready to scale!
Today marks the maiden voyage for how vendors can interact with our beer festival app. This new feature was unveiled as our new Vendor Portal sent invite emails to each of the 60 vendors that will be showcase at the upcoming BrrrFest 2019.
We’re so excited to be the official app fueling this craft beer event and we’ll be on-site to experience this indoor beer festival that celebrates the beers of winter and the brewers who make them!
Today’s mini milestone was the key first step that invites vendors to easily setup their profile and quickly create their beer list.
As we did some final preparation for deployment, Dave at SingleSpeed Brewing Company got to be the first guinea pig. With just a smart link and without any direction, here’s what he had to say about the profile setup and adding 7 beers to his real-time list of things being served at his booth for this upcoming beer festival.
“Are you guys kidding me? I handled that in what seemed like 3-4 minutes. Well done guys!”
We also tested a text message link with Scott from Firetrucker, so that was another passed test using the manual vendor invite feature we built in to aid event organizers. Scott liked the quick password and profile setup, and is excited to add his beers next time he’s at his computer.
We’re excited to hear from everyone else as invites land in a bunch of inboxes and to see how everything holds up as we unleash this sharp new way for organizers to save time, while vendors benefit from a slick tool set to make them look sweet. We’re giving the vendors Thurs-Sunday to setup their profile and beer lists before we announce the official BrrrFest Beer List next week!
Once vendors get setup, we’ll open the app to thirsty beer lovers excited to see their full beer list for the first time. That’s always fun watching as excited attendees get signed in with Untappd, build a little wish list to plan their visit and pick up last minute tickets as they get ready for an enlightened beer sampling experience inside another great craft beer event fueled by FliteBrite.
Thanks to the Bens at FliteBrite, the Iowa Brewers Guild, the BrrrFest organizing crew and all our brewery friends who will hopefully enjoy the beer list manager in our new Vendor Portal 🍻
After the successful deployment of our brew festival app, it was time to try something completely different.
Iowa Festival of Beers was in it’s 12th year and our beer fest app was a nice touch at this historic and chill event.
Imagine yourself in a magical field behind the oldest brewery in Iowa, having your choice of 200+ different beers from 40 Iowa breweries.
In short, 50 Iowa breweries, the Iowa Brewers Guild and around 1,200 beer lovers came together for a chill afternoon celebrating Iowa beers at Millstream Brewery.
There were 225 unique Iowa beers being served and as you can see in our post-event report, we had 587 app users track 433 beers. We awarded Contrary Brewing with most total ratings (28), while Orange Lazarus Milkshake from Alluvial Brewing Company and Larkness Monster from Lark Brewing tied for top rated beers. Along with all the seasonal Oktoberfest brews, it was interesting to see sour beers take over IPA in that new spot at most rated beer style.
This was the second big test for our beer festival app. Although we saw less overall engagement at the Festival of Iowa Beers, this was expected because of the rural location and cool, but very low tech vibe. It felt like nobody was on their phones, but after a great time sharing a few brews with so many brewery-owning friends, we returned home and were pleasantly surprised by the event’s analytical data that even at smaller craft beer events, we’re onto something here.
Cheers to Iowa beer, the amazing people that make it taste perfect, bratwursts and watching thirsty craft beer fans track their favorite tastes from throughout the day.
The official debut of our beer festival app was flawless and it was so exciting to have #ICBF vendors, attendees and our friends from the Iowa Brewers Guild all enjoying this fresh way to track, rate and share tons of amazing craft beers.
“The Bens” arrived early to confirm the beer list’s accuracy in our app and to install our smelly signs (see below, haha!). Once doors opens, we met up with industry allies and sampled tons of outstanding beers before leaving early to finish celebrating our beer festival app working flawlessly to allow 3,200+ thirsty attendees to track their craft beer adventure in a whole new way!
Throughout the day, Ben McDougal (left) made a special effort to track every single one of his beer tastings. Click to see his full tasting list, but when it was all said and done, he personally visited 27% of the vendors and drank just 9.7% of the available beers being served. That was still 21 different beers, which Ben continues to revisit when he sits in front of large Iowa tap lines.
Coconut Migration from SingleSpeed Brewing was McDougal’s personal “best of show”, while he returned to Lark and 515 Brewing for a few different hoppy concoctions. It’s also clear he was on the prowl for DIPA and along with his tasting notes, Ben racked up 15 different Untappd badges from all his check-ins.
Our ability to give beer enthusiasts a fun and accurate way to learn more about their festival favorites (which they used to forget after the second beer tasting) is just so damn cool! Speaking of cool…
“My favorite part has been seeing so many people using what we built!” -Ben Sinclair
The most intriguing thing was that our app tracked 4,419 total beer check-ins, rated by 1,291 different users! The most popular beer style was IPA, then sours, NEIPA and pale ale. The highest rated beer was 6th Anniversary Stout from Backpocket Brewing, while vendors with the most beer ratings were Barn Town Brewing, Confluence Brewing and 515 Brewing. It’s also interesting to consider that an attendee’s rating at a live event may actually be more of an “experience rating” based on the vendor’s presentation, paired with the actual beer being rated. The traffic timeline was also neat and here’s post-event data the Iowa Brewers Guild shared after the event.
This type of meaningful data, generated by an easy and fun tool for beer loving attendees, has us very excited. Our ability to setup any beer festival with a smart flight experience gives vendors a quantifiable way to showcase their craft beers with thirsty attendees and truly may turn out to be the key to a more sustained business.
One super cool side effect is how our beer festival app also unlocks meaningful conversations with breweries and brewpubs. We walked around the festival before gates opened and took a moment with each beer-serving vendor to confirm their beer list was 100% accurate in our app. With a total of 362 different beers served, there were a few changes we did on the fly and people appreciated us stopping by. More of those types of interactions will begin to connect the other side of our smart beer flight platform into more taprooms, bars and restaurants as well!
Startup life requires weird marketing to connect smart people with new ideas. Below are a few more highlights from our app’s debut beer festival, including this sign we put on every one of the 25+ port-a-potties! Fortunately, the installation was early in the day, haha! It felt a bit dirty, but we were committed to making sure everyone knew how to access their own smart beer sampling experience.
Jokes aside, the Iowa Craft Brew Festival felt like the beginning of something special. Our team is energized and we have more paying customers eager to invest in this handy tool that will soon enhanced even more craft beer events nationwide. Cheers!
— FliteBrite (@FliteBrite) June 16, 2018
Do you organize events where craft beer tastings are featured?
We beamed into the Kauffman Foundation, a mothership for entrepreneurship, to announce BIG news for our company! As you saw in the video above, Ben’s pitch is baked to perfection and the entire Q&A is included in the full-length video. After our reveal at 1MC Des Moines and the 1MC Fargo experience, #1MCKC completed a trifecta of epic 1MC adventures.
After meeting everyone at 1 Million Cups Kansas City, Ben stayed in KC to attend the national 1MC organizers summit. #1MCOS was an amazing opportunity to connect with leaders from around the country and we’re thankful to have such an active community builder leading our team!
36 hours of pure energy later, Ben drove back to Iowa just in time to join Sinclair for a pitch to win up to $25,000 in the finals of the John Pappajohn Venture Competition. Winners will be announced next week, but no matter the results, it was a pleasure sharing our story and we’ve worked hard to earn these business-building opportunities.
Looking ahead, we’re about to deliver 20 smart beer flight paddles to our first national establishment, so stay tuned for news on where smart beer flights land next!
At the core, I believe community builders are passionate about the art of connectivity. Accelerating others energized us all. #1MCOS
— Ben McDougal (@BENovator) September 7, 2017
We unleashed #SmartFlights at The 2017 Craft Brewers Conference!
After years of development, it was surreal to officially unveil our company and the future of beer flights at the industry’s largest event of the year. As you may have seen in our CBC17 preview article, this was an important event where we wanted to make a big impact. As you can see in the photos below, we had an awesome booth, enjoyed all sorts of adventure and loved sharing our innovative product with tons of attendees from all over the world. Like we did in our CBC16 recap, let’s take you on a ride through our trip to Washington DC. Hang on…here we go!
After arriving the night before, our three-person team packed up and rolled into downtown DC. The venue for CBC was once again massive and after checking in, we hauled everything to where we’d call home the next three days. Setup was smooth and our hot little booth looked sweet!
Once setup was done, we found a random spot to grab some beers and do some final prep work. The “remote office” we chose became the destination for everyone from North Carolina, as the NC Beer Happy Hour got underway. We tapped in and meet a bunch of great people, before heading to the night’s big event.
The opening reception at CBC is always epic and this year was no different. We arrived at the Smithsonian’s Natural Museum of American History, where of course, great craft beer was served, but also tons of fun things to experience. After some time there, we strolled out to the middle of the national mall. This was a special moment, as Ben, Sinclair and Jake all enjoyed a few brews and stood in between the Washington Monument and our nation’s capital. From there, we headed to the second location for this fun gathering. Once inside the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the night came to life. We had way too much fun closing things down, met some cool cats and captured some epic photos that we’ll enjoy forever.
With very little sleep, it was time to do what we came there to do. Booth 1640 became a little hot spot in the massive expo hall and it was awesome to see so much interest in our new technology. We met all sorts of brewery owners and industry professionals and even plugged our product into a few other booths throughout the event. Thanks again Grandstand, Barth Haas Group, Brewd and Sahm! In short, Day 1 was a great start to our three day adventure in DC!
Day 2 was the best day of CBC17. Our booth buzzed with activity all day long and our after party with Sam Adams and Digital Pour was a hit. As you can see below, one obvious highlight was meeting the crew from Sam Adams. One of the fathers of craft beer, Jim Koch, actually had a chance to play around with our product and had fun snapping some photos with Ben. Penn Social was an awesome host and we even came up with a new way to use our smart paddles within the beer trivia event. Thanks again to our friends (and booth neighbors) at Digital Pour, Penn Social and Sam Adams for such a fun evening.
Once we closed down the party at Penn Social, our crew flew over to catch the end of the Iowa Beer Social. It was awesome to walk into a room full of friends, Ben turned on his electronic shoes and the night got a little out of control from there.
The final day of CBC was a struggle. You could tell that all of the 13,000+ attendees were exhausted from such a crazy week and the mood throughout the event felt like zombieland. Nonetheless, we pushed through and generated another day full of new introductions and continued interest in our electronic serving system.
Along with meeting new friends from Beer Advocate, one highlight came right at the end of the show. We had packed up our booth and were walking off the show floor. As we walked past the Brewers Association’s area, Ben stopped to say thanks for all their help. As he randomly walked up to say hello, they were literally in the middle of talking about FliteBrite, with our promo paddle in their hands! The timing of our visit could not have been scripted any better, so Ben took some time to share our story and walked them through the world’s first electronic beer flight paddle.
We crashed back at the house and had a fun evening of reflection. Friday we did a little sight seeing and left DC with a mixture of emotions. Our formal unveiling had gone big at the Craft Brewers Conference, we had a bunch of breweries, restaurants and bars from throughout the country sign up for a free trial, and there was an exciting sense of accomplishment, but we also heard all sort so of valuable feedback and know there’s a lot more work to be done.