Hosting a craft beer pairing dinner for media is a great way to build relationships with journalists. The dinner offers an intimate setting to showcase not only your craft beer, but your craft brewery’s story. We’ve thrown several successful events for the Brewers Association (BA) in New York City at The NoMad, Eleven Madison Park, DANIEL and others, as well in emerging craft beer markets across the country.
We’d welcome you to do the same! Here are five steps for organizing a successful media craft beer pairing dinner:
#1: Collaborate with your craft brewing colleagues
Identify a handful of craft brewers in the area to participate in the dinner. Participation means providing the craft beer for the evening and having a representative, brewmaster or brewery owner, attend and speak. Ideally you should have one brewery representative per every five media. As a benchmark, we’ve found success in inviting about 20-25 journalists to each dinner. This will help keep the evening intimate and engaging.
#2: Determine your setting
Start by picking an area that is centrally located and easy for media to access. Inquire with local upscale restaurants about hosting a private dinner and the ability to serve specific brands of beer not necessarily on their menu. Let them know it’s a working pairing dinner and you’d like to work closely with the chef to ensure flavor profiles align and you may even go as far as to request a test tasting of the craft beers you plan to serve. Ensure the space for the dinner is completely private. Restaurants can get noisy and you don’t want external clamoring interrupting the flow and conversation.
#3: Invite media
Whether it’s a beer or business journalist or producer at a local television or radio station, target a variety of media to invite to the event. Create a compelling invitation that can be sent via email. Provide an RSVP date to ensure you have enough time to plan and coordinate with the restaurant. You’ll also want to have a secondary list in case some journalists are unable to attend.
#4: Programming and pairing
Identify what beers are being served in what order. We recommend having a welcome beer to kick things off. Once the service order is determined, the brewery representatives should plan to speak in that order. Plan to discuss your beer, how it’s paired with the food, and share stories of your brewery: how you got started, growth plans, challenges and opportunity in the market, and especially any news and statistics you see as relevant. Let the media know they are welcome to ask questions along the way but there will also be an open time for this at the end.
Make sure you thank everyone for coming and be sure they have access to each brewer’s contact information. Provide any follow-up information that was promised and stay in touch!