Remark your calendar
This year, Sac celebrates beer in April. But the “official” Beer Week is held in May. What’s up?
On a recent Monday afternoon, Kenny Hotchkiss sits at Capital Hop Shop, the Midtown taproom he co-owns. He’s calm, glancing at a tennis match on the TV behind the bar and chatting with employees and a just-arriving beer rep from San Francisco.
Hotchkiss is always busy. But he’s about to get busier: It’s time for Sacramento Beer Week—the celebration of the area’s flourishing microbrewery and taproom industry.
But the 10th anniversary event—from April 26 through May 5—will have its third date change in three years. Why the calendar change?
Like other expanding “week” events, Sacramento Beer Week has outgrown itself. That creates a problem for the 10-day, 300-beer event extravaganza: When to pencil it in to keep everyone involved happy?
“The new dates are not so close to San Francisco Beer Week,” which was February 1-10 this year, Hotchkiss said. “It gives the [beer] reps a little break; they were kind of tired. And we have a better chance for better weather.”
Originally held in late February and early March beginning in 2010, the event moved last year to May 10 through 20. But that wasn’t ideal timing, either, conflicting with Mother’s Day, organizers said. The “official” American Craft Beer Week, scheduled by the Brewer’s Association, is May 13 through 18.
“There was a survey that went among brewers and retails, maybe even some customers, and overwhelmingly it was decided to change [the days],” said Hotchkiss. “I think this way it gives people a chance to go to both [Sacramento and San Francisco events]. We have a better chance of attracting more people from the Bay Area.”
Kate Whelan, a longtime Sacramento event planner in her third year as the director of Sacramento Beer Week, said while the closeness to San Francisco Beer Week provided a kinship between the two events, it also “wore out the consumer.”
“We really wanted to draw the Bay Area consumers to Sacramento as well and let them see how amazing our scene is,” Whelan said. “When the event was in March, we were eliminating a portion of people from doing that.”
But she also says the calendar changes have caused concerns.
“I know for a lot of breweries in town, they liked the old dates because it filled a void in the Sac market when times are slower,” she said. “It was something to celebrate when people aren’t out as much.”
The likelihood of better weather in May has improved Sacramento Beer’s Week outdoor settings for key events, particularly the opening and closing functions, Whelan said.
“It allowed us to expand those events and expose them to more people,” she said.