PBW–the Grumpy Old Man report.

I picked up a lot of info from various sources today for my Celebrator Beer News column which I plan to write Monday. but I agreed to embargo some of it for a bit (the column won’t see print until late May and likely won’t be in this part of the country before early June) and it’s not clear what I can and cannot use here. I’ll check over the weekend and begin a regular reveal here and at the Beer Yard next week.

Meanwhile, just as I did last year, I have serious problems with the Philly Beer Week website. Go here and load it in a separate window and we can discuss. It is, quite simply, really difficult to use and not at all user-friendly.

I understand that too few people are trying to accomplish too much and have too little time and money, but PBW is, as the organizers themselves will argue, the major beer event in the country in terms of the number of events and brewery participants and customer interest. Aside from all the local guys and gals, brewers are coming from all over the county and several from overseas—a dozen or more from Belgium alone, I am told—which also gives it a national and  international flavor.

With less that five weeks before everything  kicks off, it should be a helluva lot easier to find out what’s going on from the website. The resolution on the home page is way beyond the scope of most monitors. To even see the day by calendar in the upper right hand corner you have to either know or realize that you need to scroll your screen to the right. Then you have to click the calendar over to June. Then—and this is the real problem—you have to click on each day separately; it will open a separate window with the day’s activities listed, each of which you have to click on “details” to find out anything about. Then you have to close the pop-up window and go back to the calendar and choose the next date.

There is no way to easily jump from day to day and plan out a week’s worth of activities. I hear talk of an iPhone app–My Philly Beer Week–which may resolve a lot of this. If you have an iPhone, that is.

Again, I have sympathy with the complexities and the size of the event, I feel for the folks who have to do it all. And maybe I have a different perspective that the average potential attendee. I need to know stuff now for print publications so I can meet their deadlines. I need to know stuff in order to alert you guys on this site and, more importantly, to create and maintain the Beer Yard calendar. It’s what I do, it’s what people all over the internets do, and what print media do.

Maybe the idea is that it doesn’t matter. That what’s going to happen is so cool and attractive that everybody will plan to show up and use the Philadelphia Weekly or Daily News or whatever print guide which will come out the week before to choose the pay-as-you go events they want to go and pay to, and that all the ticketed events will sell out immediately once the word gets out. Maybe it will work out that all the individual venues will promote their events in their own ways.

I am not a computer genius. I am not a PR genius. I am not, thankfully, the poor guy or gal, or multiples of either or both, who has to deal with all this. I am also more than familiar with brewers and publicans and the tendency to many of them to put things off until the very last minute. and I understand that there are expenses involved and the whole process of dealing with that is something I would run screaming from the room if asked to deal with.

Still….

I didn’t even know where three of the major events of PBW, all ticketed events, were going to be held until today, and the site for at least one of them is still not on the official calendar.

I have been invited to be an active participant in an event which is being held for the third straight year which is not even on the calendar at all as I write this.

I know that, if  there are going to “Hundreds of Events” as the PBW home page promises, a look at the current calendar there suggests that somebody is going to have to post a, you should excuse the expression, shitload of stuff real soon now.

I am someone who admires Philly Beer Week, who looks forward to it, who is proud that it is happening right where I live, and who, a mere 34 days before Opening Tap, has a very fragile grasp of what is happening and when.

I do not think that is a good thing.



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