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Last week we wrote a series of posts about SAVOR, the craft beer and food pairing event planned for this June at the National Building Museum. After tickets sold out on Wednesday in just ten minutes, we decided to contact the Brewers Association for a response. Tammy spoke with Craft Beer Program Director Julia Herz about the record sell-out and the BA’s vision for the event and Events Director Nancy Johnson about how ticket sales were handled.

Following on our recent online discussion about how breweries are selected, Tammy also asked Johnson about the lottery process. Here are the goods on why a handful of regional breweries, including Flying Dog, Starr Hill, and Hook & Ladder, are not on the list this year.

The facts:

  • For the purposes of SAVOR, the U.S. is divided into eight regions. Of all the breweries that apply to participate, eight are selected by lottery from each region. This is done to ensure the event has a national character.
  • The Mid-Atlantic region includes DC, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.
  • This year the Pacific (including California and Hawaii) and Mid-Atlantic regions had the largest number of applicants. There were 22 Mid-Atlantic breweries who applied for eight spots, giving each a 27.5% chance of getting in through the lottery.
  • The following Mid-Atlantic breweries got in to SAVOR: Clipper City (Baltimore, MD), Old Line Brewers/The Brewer’s Art (Baltimore, MD), Evolution (Delmar, DE), Stoudt’s (Adamstown, PA), Troegs (Harrisburg, PA), Weyerbacher (Easton, PA), Flying Fish (Cherry Hill, NJ), Blue Point (Patchogue, NY), and Brown’s (Troy, NY). No, you haven’t miscounted—there are more than eight, due to an additional “wild card” participant, drawn to fill a spot when another region has less than eight breweries interested in participating.
  • Out of the 22 breweries that did not get one of the 64 spots at SAVOR this year (by lottery or wild card), 12 were from the Mid-Atlantic region.
  • The Brewers Association reserves 10 additional spaces (and special promotional privileges) for “Supporting Breweries” who get to bypass the lottery if they decide to fork over the extra fees. As of last Thursday, there are two Supporting Brewery spots still available for this year’s event.

Even though it is obvious that more breweries will be interested in an event that is occurring nearby, over 50% of rejected breweries coming from the same region still seems disproportionate. When asked if the Brewers Association had plans to modify any of the region’s definitions based on demand and how many breweries are in each state, Johnson responded, “We are always open to a better way, but we spend a lot of time on this and it works well. It’s a fair model.”

As Tom Cizauskas (Yours for Good Fermentables) and J.T. Smith of Flying Dog Brewery discussed in our aforementioned online discussion about brewery selection, we asked Johnson about the possibility of granting Brewery of the Year winners automatic bids for events like SAVOR. She answered, “It’s the first I’ve heard of it and I wouldn’t commit, but it’s certainly something to consider. Right now I probably wouldn’t look to tie the two together, but we are always open to considering new things.”

Photo by craigemorsels used under a Creative Commons license