The Southern Craft Beer Conference is set to debut next summer, right here in New Orleans. Which could be cool. Or it could be a complete, unmitigated shit show disaster. Let's hope it's the former.
Why could it suck? Well, the SCBC is being thrown by the same folks as the Houston Beer Fest, which in its first year in 2011 was so bad Eater Houston described it as "make-the-evening-news-as-the-lead-story disastrous." Then the Houston people announced an Austin Beer Fest, before immediately pretending there was no tie between the two events. The first-ever Austin Beer Fest happened this past weekend, with people calling it "a total disaster." The Austin people then blamed absolutely everybody else for their event sucking. None of which inspires much confidence about the New Orleans event.
The relationship between the three events is all kinds of muddled. As Eater Austin put it earlier today:
Despite the fact that everybody involved [with the Austin Beer Fest] seems to want to pretend they're totally not affiliated with that other beer fest disaster, the Austin Beer Fest was at one point demonstrably proud to be brought to town by last year's Houston Beer Fest organizers. The two events appear to have been mirror-image failures, organized by a group of vaguely business-affiliated dudes who are getting really good at playing semantics with the words "organizer," "affiliate" and "involved." According to CultureMap, a number of them went in on a lifestyle website start-up together in 2009.The SCBC in New Orleans is being led (at least in part) by one of the bros behind the Houston Beer Fest, Timothy Hudson. Hudson himself was not involved with the Austin Beer Fest; by all accounts it was some of the others from the Houston event who went up to the Texas capital, and who then used the fact that Hudson wasn't involved to deny any tie.
Confused yet? Good. There's pretty much only one thing that's clear about this: While New Orleans loves beer, the city (and its beer drinking culture) doesn't really need to import any weird, Texan, intra-state beer community squabbling. It raises the question of whether or not this event is coming to New Orleans because Houstonites and Austinites are getting wary (or hostile) to these guys and their shitty beer events.
But at the very least, by the time the SCBC comes to town next July, Hudson and the Houston Beer Fest people will have had a couple years to work out the kinks in that event, so maybe hopefully this one isn't such a disaster.