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Brouhaha for Big Brew Beer Fest at Armory

Crowds wait to get into beer, food, music festival in Morristown.

The National Guard Armory in Morristown was the site of The Big Brew Beer Festival Saturday evening.  The sold-out event included beers from around the country, many from New Jersey, food and other vendors. The band The Nerds performed as part of the event.

As the event went on, many of the attendees, stuck outside waiting to check in, expressed concern over being able to get in at all. With tickets already purchased, many waited two hours to get into the event.

Alex February 18, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Was thinking exactly the same, Betty.
debbie February 18, 2013 at 08:17 PM
Funny you should ask that question about why we didn't leave ... Two reasons simply. I made a commitment and I always stick to them. However given this situation I would have left BUT standing in front of me were paying customers with pink/red hands shaking from standing in the cold. I couldn't just walk away as they stood there politely in yet another line waiting to get the beer I was serving. When the whole thing turned into the big mess it did they decided to keep the venue open later ... That's when I walked out. On the stroke of 830 I simply left. I even cleaned up my station. Way more than i should have done! i should,by now, have gotten an apology ... She has my contact info ... Or perhaps I should get paid $75 like the volunteer 3 tables down did! How can you pay some people and not all? Luckily she can't delete my comments here like she did on Facebook and then blocked me from further responding. I challenge you to debate anything I've stated here ... It's ALL true and you know it
NJ GUY February 18, 2013 at 11:35 PM
I also volunteered. I thought it was in bad taste that we were basically scolded before we started, and finding out half of the people in the volunteer area were being paid! I made the best of it, worked my butt off and had some fun but it was kind of depressing not getting any kind of recognition.
Steph February 18, 2013 at 11:57 PM
This was the biggest joke of a 'beer fest' I have ever seen. Been to them in AC, Philly, secaucus, and New Hampshire. NEVER have I seen anything like the ridiculous line outside this event. Sold our tickets and went to morristown to have beers instead. These promoters are a joke. I feel bad for the people who waited in that line thinking this is 'normal' for a beerfest. Save your money next time and go to an event run by people who know what they are doing where the lines are smooth, the beer is cold, and there are bathrooms and rinse stations for your sample cup.
Womp womp February 19, 2013 at 02:58 AM
I believe I explained that in my post, to drink beer and make connections in the beer community, is why I volunteer. I enjoy getting to know the local beer reps and what not. It helps me get my hands on more hard to find beers when they come out. I didn't walk out because my wife and friends were going and I would have been out while they were in. Also, I didn't want to burn any bridges, I enjoy doing these events. Never for this person again, but for others, sure.
Ms Beer February 19, 2013 at 01:04 PM
Not sure what these other 2 volunteers were listening 2 when we were given instructions. We were told very clearly that we were in the hands of the distributor we were being assigned to. If we needed anything we were to ask them, for equipment, ice, bathroom, etc. i was given a food voucher and made sure I took the time to use it, as instructed. For someone so busy, it's very interesting how you could find the time to monitor 1 person in that crowd. I for one had a great time, volunteering and getting to interact with the customers. I was never asked to stay late either and I was told from the get go I was there to work. I think there are a lot of assumptions and mis-information going on here. They also had some sort of broken scanner problem at the door which created a problem for customers and the festival in general. Angry people who don't listen to the instructions they are given then blame someone else. What a world we live in. I wonder where the apology should go
Motown Resident February 19, 2013 at 01:52 PM
As an attendee, I was really disappointed by the way things were run but loved the variety of beers offered. A few of the local bars in Morristown have a decent variety of beers, specifically Sona, The Grasshopper and Tashmoo, but they can't compare to an event like this, which only adds too the disappointment. I will attend again but hope they learn from there mistakes. And a big thank-you to the volunteers!!!
debbie February 19, 2013 at 02:11 PM
what distributor? i was placed at a table with cases of beer ... by myself? are you kidding. there was no one there from the distributor or should i have called headquarters on my phone? we did ask for ice -- we were told there wasn't any. and the only way we could ask for the ice was to leave the beer unmanned. we saw "1 person" in the crowd because through the beer we were non stop pouring we all tried to yell to her from our tables to get her attention, but could not be heard over the crowd. clearly your experience was different. perhaps you were at one of the tables photographed with 2-3 people standing behind the table. giving you ample time to "enjoy" yourself and get food and go to the bathroom. how on earth could someone get any break to do anything other than pour beer when they were left by themselves!
mary February 19, 2013 at 02:18 PM
i was another volunteer and had the same experience as the other ones stating they were left to their own devices. YOU Ms Beer are misinformed. NO ONE every told us to get supplies or information or help from our distributor??? there was no distributor only piled up sealed cases of beer. and NO we did not have time to do anything BUT pour beer! we were never thanked, or asked if we needed anything. YOU are misinformed and probably one of the people whose pictures was taken behind a table with 2 or more people serving - heck you probably had a tap too. AND you must be friends with the "1 person" .......
Rip Harris February 19, 2013 at 04:20 PM
As another attendee, I too would like to thank the volunteers. After waiting in the cold for 90 minutes, I found them all to be very friendly and quick with a pour. Some folks were clearly a bit frazzled (shell shocked?) but everybody behind the tables was very nice. It's disappointing to hear they were not appreciated or well supported by the event organizers. I'm a big beer fan, but am definitely on the fence about whether it would be worth attending again. For the price of admission and some food (about $70/head), I can do pretty well at some of Motown's other bars or BYO restaurants.
Dave B February 19, 2013 at 04:46 PM
Ms Beer, there are certainties that are not assumptions or misinformation: Firstly, the volunteers did a great job under the circumstances and did not get the recognition they deserve (from me included at the time after a long wait in the cold). Fact. It was clear that some booths had a single person staffing them while others had 2 or 3. Those with only one were overstretched and stressed from the number of people at the event. Fact. I have never seen so many bottles at a beer festival that take longer to open and pour. Fact Some beer was warm and while we were waiting in the long lines outside we witnessed some vendors/volunteers come outside more than once to fill tubs with snow as they were unable to find ice in the venue. Fact. There were no rinse stations. Fact. There were insufficient restroom facilities. Fact. Following an equipment failure the incredible decision to manually enter up to 3000 barcodes manually resulted in delays of up to 2 hours for people outside in near freezing temperatures. Fact. Once fully occupied, the distance between the booths was insufficient for the number of people. Fact. Continued...
Dave B February 19, 2013 at 04:47 PM
At no time during our 1.5 hour delay in getting inside not one person from the organizers had the decency to come outside to explain the situation. Fact. The instructions however relayed, given, not given, misunderstood, understood resulted in a chaotic scene that meant anyone arriving at 4:30 missed half the event. As with any business or event, the top people (or in this case organizing company or committee) must take accountability for their decisions good or bad and NOT blame others. Fact. The decision to take down the Facebook and other social media presence has removed a valuable opportunity. In addition to the criticism there were suggestions for improvements and feedback that would make any future event work. Fact. The apology must go to those who attended the event either as a paying customer or a non-paid volunteer. With proper research, knowledge and planning all of the issues above would have been avoided. That is not an assumption or misinformation, it is how other beer festivals manage to make them such a success. Fact.
Eric B February 19, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Nobody seems to address the fact that there was supposed to be a VIP Lounge with rare exclusive beers to be tapped through the event. That was what was on the website that has now been removed. There was no VIP section. There were a few tables that were open to all patrons. I paid double for some chili and a hour early entry. Many VIP ticket holders were in the one and only line there which was filled with gen admission ticket holders and didn’t get in until 4:30. They missed their chili and early entry. As for rare exclusives being tapped, there was 1 tap. Most of the rare stuff was not there. Some of it came in a handful of bottles that ran out in 3 minutes. The supposed tables for VIP were open to everyone. I paid a lot more for things that just didn't exist, and were not event attempted. I was very excited to try some of that stuff, but it either wasn't there or was pillaged by the GA ticket holders in minutes. This whole thing was disgraceful. I have never seen a beer festival so poorly thought out.
SockPuppet February 19, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Obviously you had a very different experience than the other volunteers, Ms Beer, but to label them "Angry people who don't listen to the instructions they are given then blame someone else" seems harsh, to say the least. Good for you for having a great time. Maybe listen to those who had difficulties and suspend your judgmental scorn, eh?
MORRISTOWN ROTARY February 19, 2013 at 07:38 PM
If you want a great event.. Buy tickets for the 11th Annual TASTE OF MORRISTOWN set for Monday March 4, 2013 6-9pm showcasing 40 great restaurants/providers of the Morristown area PLUS wine tasting, Scotch/spirit tasting and beer tasting. all for charitable causes sponsred by Morristown Rotary Club at Hanover Marriott. .For details check out www.tasteofmorristown.org
Ms Beer February 19, 2013 at 09:13 PM
Because I did not have a bad experience Mary and heard the lady say I would be assigned to a distributor who would then assign us, is a good reason to insult someone. Dave were you a volunteer? You seem to have information about everything, were you somehow involved, you say this is how things are done. I'm sure what you do runs very smoothly all the time. I saw an apology on the web site, admitting their faults. I do know it was a first time event and as with most things, there are always kinks to work out. They seem to be doing the right things by the unfortunate ticket system.
Dave B February 19, 2013 at 10:54 PM
I do not agree that they are doing the right thing ‘by the unfortunate ticket system’. I will put this in more familiar terms. I book a table at a restaurant for two people for 4:30pm. I arrive on time but have to wait outside in freezing temperatures until my table is ready at 6:15pm without an apology. When inside my table is smaller than expected so we all have to squeeze uncomfortably together. The service is slow as there are less staff than they need and they are stressed. When my $50 steak dinner arrives there is only half a steak . ‘Sorry sir, you arrived late so we are only able to serve you half a steak as you need to leave at 8:30 so no time to eat a whole one’….However, there is no refund or discount on the $50 for the dinner as it was a fixed price for the whole steak we offered and it was not our fault our ticket system broke. My wife wasn’t even able to enjoy half her steak – she made the mistake of having to leave the table to visit the restroom and after 30 minutes hadn’t even got close to being able to get any relief there. I would never leave that restaurant paying full price for the food. I certainly wouldn’t blame the staff who served the food for the chaos. That I know never having worked or been in the restaurant business.
purple February 19, 2013 at 11:43 PM
contact the better business bureau. refunds are only being given to people who never made it in. you can make a formal complaint about service and ask for a refund.
Comfortably Numb February 20, 2013 at 02:32 AM
Oh My God Betty....please tell me who does your hair, its gorgeous
Id Jit February 20, 2013 at 06:03 AM
Clearly Ms Beer is Allison herself, or someone tied to the company.
SockPuppet February 20, 2013 at 07:39 AM
Comfortably Dumb, thanks so much! I have members of the Local Yokels take care of my stylish 'dos', and am surprised that I haven't seen you and your coterie at my parlor--smooches, dude!
Virginia Faulkner February 20, 2013 at 11:24 AM
JMK has experience in running large antique shows--they ran their first beer event last May at the Garden State Exhibition Center in Somerset, which is twice as big as the Morristown Armory and has much larger paved parking lots. The Morristown event was originally scheduled for Somerset, but it was postponed and moved due to Hurricane Sandy. The promoters will be back in Morristown this weekend for their regular antique show at the armory--you might be able to speak to them there.
Bob February 20, 2013 at 01:07 PM
It's called getting JERZEY'D!! Customers spend their hard-earned money with good faith that we won't get ripped off, only to get hosed by scammers looking to make a fortune by cutting corners. These scammers don't go away, they'll be back at a different venue under a new name stealing from new victims. No wonder everyone's leaving this state.
MORRISTOWN ROTARY February 20, 2013 at 01:13 PM
For a great event. Check out 11th Annual TASTE of MORRISTOWN. Www.tasteofmorristown.org.
Lisa February 20, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Two words: Charge back. I'm sure most people paid with a credit card, and didn't get what was promised.
Liz Adinaro February 20, 2013 at 06:36 PM
Eric, There was a VIP Lounge. The food donated by Morris Tap & Grill for the hour was: Cheese & Crackers Chicken Bacon Dip Cup Bacon Hummus w/Rosemary Flatbread 5 Alarm Chili w/ crackers and Nachos with Cheese Many enjoyed it. Did you get stuck in the line as a VIP? If so, and although it was not our issue, if you are ever at Morris Tap & Grill, we will be happy to give you a few samples as we feel for anyone who was stuck in those lines. When the VIP hour was over, we donated the rest of the food to the crowd. We didn't have anything to do with the beer, but they did have a good selection.
Comfortably Numb February 20, 2013 at 09:10 PM
awww, dont be so mean. I compliment your hair and you call me dumb???? It's gonna be tough catfishing with that bad attitude. Be nice FYI, they've been there, look heres the picture I took of you all together. http://cdn2-b.examiner.com/sites/default/files/styles/image_content_width/hash/a0/9a/a09a215802625a7362023b5580206baa.jpg
Ms Beer February 21, 2013 at 01:02 PM
Clearly Id Jit, you have never made a mistake in your life and are perfect. Those who are without sin, let them cast the first stone. I'm being crucified on here for enjoying myself, telling my truth and for possessing forgiveness and understanding. Mistakes happen, it's part of life. Can't even imagine what you are saying about the elecetric company that worked around the clock to fix their errors after the hurricane. Move on people
Dave B February 21, 2013 at 05:13 PM
As you have commented and seem unable to move on yourself... I am delighted you had an enjoyable time and are able to forgive and understand. Myself and others did not have the same experience. This was a business transaction for $50 and we did not receive the goods or services advertised. It is normal and indeed a requirement for a business failing to provide goods and services to offer a replacement or refund. In this case JMK Shows have not. Had this been a not for profit event I would absolutely forgive. As far as I am aware only a contribution is for charity. I asked on Facebook how much was for charity as I would not dispute that charge however never received a response. I will wait to see if my credit card company understands and forgives or if they treat is as a business transaction and refund my account...
Lisa February 21, 2013 at 10:58 PM
The beauty of a charge back is that it has to be the full amount. The debacle with the scanners SHOULD have led them to admit everyone who was waiting in the freezing cold, and then go around and collect the tickets inside (and scan or manually enter at a later date). Clearly, since it WAS freezing cold, and the event was SOLD OUT, only ticket-holders were waiting on line.

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