This Saturday, Buckhead Theatre will be rocking—but with a festival, not your average show. NovemBEER Fest is upon us, bringing more than one hundred beers, three live music stages, food, and oh yeah, college football.
It’s easy to think the people behind beer festivals party throughout their careers, but director of operations Michael DiLonardo paid some dues. Before launching Atlanta Beer Festivals, he worked in financial services, then moved to the restaurant industry while hosting events. DiLonardo went from throwing a Halloween Party for Front Page News back in 2004 to launching the first ATL Summer Beer Fest at Masqurade Music Park with a reported 2200 people in attendance. That, DiLonardo says, is when he saw the potential for a business brand supported by beer festivities. I think the name for that is “seeing the light.”
How does a beer fest work in a concert venue? We’re using the whole venue. The headlining band High Fidelity will be in the main room. We’ll have tables and the two-man band Mario and Matt in the lobby, and we’ll be using Buckhead Theatre’s existing bar out there as well. And they have an upstairs area with about 15 tables up there, along with a one-man band, Robbie Levin. That’s also where the food will be. Plus we’re using the balcony.
I guess it makes sense, but how do you squeeze in college football? They have flat screens throughout the venue! There’s probably about ten. Upstairs the theatre hosts a lot of corporate meetings so they have projections screens. We’ll be running two of those with the game as well. We’ll have the Georgia vs. Auburn game on.
Oh, the SEC. That should be civilized. Any particular brews you’re really excited to feature? There are a couple of new beers to the market—New Holland is one. Our selection of local breweries has increased substantially with the addition of Monks Mead, Burnt Hickory out of Kennesaw, Strawn Brewing down in Fairburn.
And this is a beer festival that welcomes wine people! We added wine to our last event, it was our first time. It went over really well. Rex Goliath is one of the providers, and we’ll have an assortment at one other table.
What’s on the horizon for Atlanta Beer Festivals? We’ll have our New Year’s Party at Front Page News Little 5 Points, which is called New Beer’s Eve. Winter Beerfest will be January 26, 2013 at the Masquerade.
Festivals, parties—anything else you guys do? We have this thing called the Brewski Bus. We rent a coach bus and take 55 people to three breweries.
I like the illustration that you have on your website—does the bus actually say “Brewski Bus” on the side? No, our plan is to get one of those door magnets.
I think that ought to be your next order of business. And you definitely need a bunch beer foam coming out of the top bus, just like in the picture. Total customization.
That’s what I’m talking about. Yeah, we’ve done a couple of those tours and hope to do more.
When people find out that you’re the guy behind Atlanta Beer Festivals, do they change their tune and start vying for tickets? Or do they just think you’re really unemployed? Some people are like, Wait that’s your job? Others think it’s cool. I unfortunately don’t have any beer fest celebrity, but I’m having a great time.
Atlanta Beer Festivals hosts NovemBEER Fest at the Buckhead Theatre on Saturday, November 10, 6–11 p.m. Tickets for NovemBEER Fest are on sale at atlantabeerfestivals.com for $40; $48 the day of the event.