Philly Beer Week in search of relevance

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Philly Beer Week, which marks its 10th-annual celebration this June, announced this week that it’s evolving into a year-round organization called Philly Loves Beer.

The new organization is “devoted to raising Philadelphia’s global profile as a destination city for beer tourism… independent of a brewer’s guild or business association,” and will be the nation’s first nonprofit business league “dedicated to beer appreciation,” according to a recent press announcement.

The change comes as the organization has sought to stay relevant in the region’s craft beer trade, where competing interests among breweries, wholesalers and restaurants have frequently put Philly Beer Week at odds with its own participants. Though the nation’s first beer week remains vibrant, paid participation has slacked off in recent years as local breweries have grumbled in particular about the number of events promoting out-of-town beer makers.

Meanwhile, some bar owners have declined to participate because of the difficulty in drawing crowds and recouping their participation fees during beer week.

Disclosure: I was a founder of Philly Beer Week and was its first executive director, a post I left in 2014. To me, this is a welcome step because it gives businesses who’ve left the organization a reason to return. Craft beer enthusiasts, meanwhile, should see even more beer-soaked fun and creativity throughout the entire year.

While Philly Beer Week will remain its largest annual festival, Philly Loves Beer said it plans to expand its influence by promoting educational seminars, networking events, beer festivals and promotional support for its participants.

Philly Beer Week is June 1-11. Meanwhile, the organization in a typically off-beat beer-minded gesture announced it will host its first fundraiser on Feb. 19 at Heritage (914 N. 2nd St.): A flannel “fashion show” featuring members and supporters and judged by a panel of local female beer celebrities.


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