On Saturday, June 27, the Nashville Predators hosted their 3rd Annual Craft Beer Festival at Bridgestone Arena. The festival, in which proceeds benefit the Nashville Predators Foundation, was another stellar event that supports Middle Tennessee non-profit groups & programs in the community. In only its third year, the craft beer festival has become a highlight event of the summer in Nashville, filling the entire concourse with breweries from all over the country, allowing attendees to partake in multiple tastings.
“I think word of mouth is very popular,” said Rebecca King, Nashville Predators Senior Director of Community Relations on how the event has grown. “A lot of our partners have stepped up and helped us promote. The distributors are really excited about this beer fest. It’s indoors, it’s air conditioned, so we’re not relying on good weather to dictate how the event goes. I think being inside is a big draw for a lot of people.”
In showing the growth of the festival, the Predators partnered with popular craft beer enthusiast phone app, Untappd. Whenever someone would check in a drink in the Nashville area, they were then informed of a beer festival in the area.
Along with other annual events such as GnashVegas Casino Night and Wine Tasting, the craft beer festival benefits the Nashville Predators Foundation. Ticket prices went up for this year’s event, but that did not deter craft beer lovers from coming to the event. If anything, it just boosted the proceeds going to the Foundation.
“I think because you get a hockey ticket with your ticket that our price is pretty low,” said King. “We did a tiered system where it went up from $55 to $65 and $75 based on when you purchased your ticket. We anticipated having about 100 walk ups, and I think we did that. That’s what we had last year and ticket sales just continue to grow.”
In all, it’s safe to say over 1,000 people attended the festival this year. With the added growth over three years, the organization has conceived different ways to help the flow, pun intended, of the patrons attending. This year, breweries were organized by region of origin. It made it must easier for any beer snob to find breweries they couldn’t miss out on.
“We had 63 breweries and this year we put them by region,” said King. “Before, they were by distributor, so now we have the locals all together, the north east together and so on. We created a map so people could actually figure out which beers they wanted to try and target them on the map.”
While it may be the offseason, events like this keep the Predators in the front of the community’s mind. Not only by having it at Bridgestone Arena, but also by including tickets to a game next season in the price of admission. What could also be seen is the immense renovation taking place in the lower bowl as all of the seats are being replaced as well as new paint throughout. The new seats were stacked high in boxes along areas of the concourse. All of this together, plus the 2015 NHL Entry Draft finishing earlier in the day helps keep the Nashville Predators at the forefront of conversations during the offseason.
“I think as an organization, we don’t just want to be known for hockey season,” said King. We do things year-round in the building and year-round for the Foundation. We want to keep front of mind so that when hockey season starts, people aren’t suddenly realizing hockey is beginning. It’s always kind of their mind that there’s skating at Ford Ice, there’s a beer festival, there’s mini-golf and a golf tournament. A lot of that happens before the hockey season even begins.”
It’s an event that people are beginning to look forward to every summer, especially the local breweries, as it gives them a chance to get their name out in public even more. This year’s winner, as voted by the attendees of the event, was Nashville’s own Jackelope Brewery, whose popularity could be seen by the multitude of antler crowns being donned by those partaking in the festivities.
Be sure to check out the other events that benefit the Nashville Predators Foundation and be on the lookout for next year’s craft beer festival which always takes place in late June.