What was the exhibition? The Great British Beer Festival, held at Earls Court from 4-8 August to celebrate real ales, ciders and beers from around the world. More than 60,000 visitors could taste in excess of 450 different alcoholic tipples.
How was the brief met? Organiser Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) transformed the venue into a huge pub. Visitors were able to hire three different sized glasses - pint, half-pint or third of a pint - before heading to the exhibition's various areas to sample beverages. These areas were split into geographical sectors so that guests could easily identify where each drink came from.
To enhance the pub ambience there were food stalls selling all types of gastro-pub culinary fayre, ranging from bangers and mash to fish and chips. There was also an area for traditional pub games such as ten-pin bowling and barrel rolling. If all of this was not enough to keep visitors entertained, there were musical acts live on stage, and, of course, the obligatory tutored tasting sessions.
This year the exhibition featured The Family Room, where kids enjoyed activities such as face painting and sock-puppet making.
What were the highlights? The sheer variety of drinks from all over the world was staggering, giving guests the opportunity to educate their beer palates. More impressive still was that drinks prices were far cheaper than they would be in a normal pub.
What didn't work? There didn't appear to be any stations in which to wash out your glasses after sampling a beer. This meant a lot of visitors simply threw the dregs on the floor between beers. Also, the pub atmosphere became a little too authentic when the rising smell of vomit began creeping into visitors' nostrils.
Camra - www.camra.org.uk (01727) 867201
Elliot Gamble Kitchen Rental - www.elliottkitchens.co.uk/event-hire
MACT - www.mact.co.uk (020) 8688 8010
Spaceworks - www.spaceworks.co.uk (01883) 745 277
Stanco - www.stanco.co.uk (01495) 273600
ON THE SPOT - MARC HOLMES, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL FESTIVALS, CAMRA
- What was the biggest challenge of the event?
There were no big challenges. This year was the easiest for a long time due to the 1,200 Camra members who volunteered to work.
- What would you do differently next time?
Improve the signage at the venue because it can be confusing if you don't know it that well. We are also going to tweak the layout to increase the flow around several key areas, to stop bottlenecks forming, and we will improve the look and feel to give the event more of a festival atmosphere.
- What did the event achieve?
Regional and national press coverage, plus 64,000 visitors compared with 59,500 in 2008. An ever-increasing consumer interest in real ale - combined with advertising - helped raise the awareness of the event to new levels.