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Statement on Winter Beer Festival 2014 Ticket Sales

The Michigan Brewers Guild recognizes and shares the frustration that some experienced when trying to purchase tickets for the Winter Beer Festival – which sold out in record time, again, this year.

The ticket processing system tracked 18,000 unique users trying to purchase just over 6000 tickets which were all sold in less than 3 hours. This resulted in a large number of people not being able to purchase tickets. Similar to highly popular concerts, sporting activities and other craft beer events around the country, demand simply exceeded the availability of tickets.

We certainly recognize that many people experienced frustrating technical issues on the ticketing site the day of the sale. Regardless of what precipitated these issues, It’s clear to us that customer experience needs to be improved. Feedback from our attendees, supporters, and craft beer fans matters tremendously to us – please trust that we are working hard to make sure these technical problems don’t happen again, and we will continue to do so right up until the next Winter Beer Festival.

Core to the Guild’s mission, we continually strive to introduce more individuals to Michigan craft beer. However, we must limit the quantity of tickets available to any event to assure a safe, well-managed event. As with every Guild festival, we learn new things and continue to examine all elements of the events in an effort to improve them. Logistically the Winter Beer Festival presents its own set of challenges with regard to weather and overall execution.

NOTE: With regard to tickets purchased from a third party individual – BUYER BEWARE! We will NOT guarantee the validity of tickets purchased from other online sources. Tickets determined to be “scalped” for more than face value will be voided.

We appreciate your understanding and continued support of MiBeer.



  • Michael Miller says:

    why is the winter Beer Festival not a two day festival like the summer beer festival? I would love to do a Friday evening beer festival in February.

    • Shannon (Communications Manager) says:

      Hi Michael – that’s a question that comes up often. There are some logistical issues with making the Winter Festival a two-day event, including beer lines freezing overnight and brewery staff and volunteers getting sick for being out in the cold for 2 – 3 days (including set-up and take-down).

      • Mike says:

        You could run 2 sessions on the same day…

        • Shannon (Communications Manager) says:

          This (and other options) are continually being discussed by the board and Michigan Brewers Guild member breweries. We’re looking for a workable solution that our membership supports and everyone can be happy with. Thanks.

          • JR says:

            If the intent was actually to expose more people to craft brewing, an indoor venue would have been chosen years ago. As it stands it’s mostly the same people attending every year….the ones ‘in the know’ regarding when the tickets go on sale. It’s so hard to get tickets that those people don’t even tell anyone about it anymore in fear of not being able to get their own tickets on release day.

          • EJF says:

            JR- You are on my Facebook Friends list. I have been posting about WBF Tickets going on sale for weeks. The day before I even had a countdown to the time when they went on sale. Should I have stopped by your house the day or hour before and knocked on your door and politely begged you to try to buy a ticket? There are many indoor craft beer events in GR. The Wine and Food Festival has a craft beer section. The Brew-Ha-Ha. Recently the Bacon and Beer event. In the summer and fall there is Foundersfest, Oktoberfest, Octobeerfest, etc. etc. The Winter Beer Festival is so popular because it is outside. “Laugh at the Cold”. The intent is to offer a unique craft beer event. Being “In the know” really isn’t that tricky. The tickets go on sale on the same day every year. “If the intent was actually to expose more people to craft beer”, then numerous beer bars and brew pubs would be hosting “So you didn’t get a ticket to the Winter Beer Fest?” parties on Feb 22, and/or craft brewers would have pre-event parties where they roll out special beers the night before the WBF where you can actually get special beers that won’t even be available at the WBF. Oh wait….They DO!!!

      • Amy says:

        People don’t get sick from being out in the cold…just ssyin’

        • Shannon (Communications Manager) says:

          The truth is, working out in the cold for that long truly does stress the immune system and run down many of the brewery staff and volunteers that work before, during, and after the festival to produce a fun and successful event. We get many reports from our membership and staff (including myself) of illnesses every year. We need to be considerate to the breweries who produce the festival, and hope to find a solution that works for everyone.

      • rrgeiger says:

        And getting pregnant from the toilet seats. Don’t forget that “issue”.

  • Mary says:

    Thank you for allowing members to purchase their own single ticket in a pre-sale, I’m glad to only have to be responsible for myself!

  • Travis says:

    I think this response missed the mark a little from the perspective of what frustrated people the most. The above statement does nothing more then to re highlight what it is that we already know, I think a better statement would have been to speak to the “glitches” in the purchase system. Many had made it through to the purchase screen only to time out and lose the transaction. Also according to the purchase website tickets were sold out in about an hour.

    • Shannon (Communications Manager) says:

      Hi Travis – we certainly recognize that many people experienced frustrating technical issues on the ticketing site the day of the sale. Regardless of what precipitated these issues (in this case, extremely high demand), It’s clear to us that customer experience needs to be improved. Feedback from our attendees, supporters, and craft beer fans matters tremendously to us – please trust that we are working hard to make sure this doesn’t happen again, and we will continue to do so right up until the next Winter Beer Festival.

  • John V. says:

    your Summer and Detroit sales worked perfectly. Why change from that system? I can tell you that I was trying to order within the 3 hours that you stated and never did get the system to work…was very frustrating.

    • Shannon (Communications Manager) says:

      Hi John – Fifth Third Ballpark (and therefore all festivals held at this location) are contractually obligated to use their ticket vendor.

      • John V. says:

        Shannon – thank you for the reply. As you can read below, many people had the same frustrations and issues with the ticketing system, and no it wasn’t impatience as some suggested. Obviously, demand was just too great and the system could not handle the volume. No matter, even if the system could have handled it, demand was still greater than what was available. Perhaps in the future, we can consider a different location and run a Friday – Saturday like the other events you sponsor (and use a more robust ticketing system). More sales, more people to experience the beers, more happy customers overall…..just something to consider. Obviously, you guys are doing too good of a job spreading the word on craft beers!….and of course, that is a good thing.

  • Ross says:

    So you want to void scalped tickets to an event that I waited 3+ hrs to only be told the tickets I had reserved are no longer available? If I give my friend $30 extra to go that’s my choice. It sucks but no different then your convenience charge.

    • Shannon (Communications Manager) says:

      Hi Ross – we are not concerned about ticketing arrangements between friends. We reserve the right to void scalper tickets to discourage abusive scalping and protect honest craft beer fans from folks selling ill-gotten tickets on Craig’s List for $250. Most people appreciate our efforts to fight scalpers, but if we receive enough feedback to the contrary, we will consider discontinuing our efforts on that front.

  • Stacey Stankiewicz says:

    I’m glad you ‘share’ my frustration; however, you get to go to Beer Fest and I don’t. It wasn’t for lack of trying. My ‘reserved’ tickets were given to someone else twice due to a slow server. NOT FAIR!!

    • Shannon (Communications Manager) says:

      Hi Stacy – I genuinely do share your frustration. What some people dealt with while trying to get tickets sounds really unpleasant, and as an empathetic human being who has experienced similar frustrations in life, I truly do get it.

      I myself do not get to go to the beer festival, so I also understand feeling left out of all the fun. Instead, I will be working to set up the event, then working Will Call (without beer) until about an hour before the festival closes. I hope everyone in there has a great time, and so do the rest of Guild & brewery staff and volunteers who will also be working hard to produce a great event for everyone else to enjoy.

  • Brewser Guild Member...until my membership expires says:

    No, for major concerts, sporting events, etc the organizers have their stuff together and use a ticketing system that can handle the load. It is sad that you are minimizing your own screw up and the people that attempted to buy tickets at 10 AM as the guild instructed them to do. Most of the past beer fests have sold out in way less thank 3 hours without issue (that is until ticket return became your issuer of tickets) so this is a pretty lame statement all around.

    • Lewis Colon says:

      Did you not read that as of now, we are under contractual obligation with 5/3rd and -have- to use -their- ticketing system unlike our other 3 yearly events?

  • Barb chase says:

    I have always purchased a dd ticket at the gate to drive my husband and his friends home unfortunately I was not able to get threw to purchase a dd ticket for myself or a ticket for my husband his friends however where able to purchase and have a ticket for him my question is will dd tickets still be available at the gate.

  • Patrick Gerby says:

    Would’ve been nice if the online seller allowed setting up accounts in advance. I timed out 5 times at that step-ridiculuous.

  • Jarrod Ward says:

    Everyone understands that the demand was greater than the supply, but I got online at ten and tried every couple minutes for 3 plus hours only to get continual non loading Web pages. While talking to friends who got the same thing. That is an inexcusable system issue, not an issue that concerts have, , they sell out but their Web site’s operate effectively until it is sold out. Ticket return did NOT operate effectively.

  • Nikki Jones says:

    i’m disappointed that i purchased my husband a membership to the HBA, one of the major reasons is that he goes to winter beer fest with friends, and could purchase his own ticket early as a perk. not only did that system fail miserably this year, and completely negate that perk, by the time it was fixed, regular tickets sales were up and running and sold out. so….. the least you could do is offer tickets to card holding members who missed out on their ONE ticket they are allowed to purchase early……..

  • Brian says:

    We were fortunate enough to get tickets without any issue. I can’t help but think many issues that people faced were due to impatience. I am sure many people where booted from the process due to continued clicking of the submit button, instead of letting the page process the step. While people argue for a 2 day event it’s pretty obvious if there were 18000 users attempting to get tickets this year even that would not accommodate the demand. My wife and I will continue to support this organization for all the good it’s done to promote Michigan craft beer.

    • Shannon (Communications Manager) says:

      Thank you, Brian! If I ever run into you out there in the real world, I’m buying you and your wife a drink.

    • I agree with your sentiment, but I can attest that I did not make it though the website even without impatient clicking. I, like you, let the webpages run their course. You just got lucky while I did not. Some of my friends got lucky too. But, just because it worked for a few does not mean that it was not frustrating for most people who are just as adept at using websites as yourself.

  • Josh Avery says:

    How can you share in our frustration? You all get to be there. Myself, my girlfriend and good friend will not be able to attend for the first time through no fault of our own. We all spent the better part of four hours on a website that kept kicking us back out and moving us all over the place until it sold out, then we had no problems getting on. I even followed Ben Darcies Facebook post on patience and continuing to try. Why wasn’t this considered before lauch? With all due respect, your apologies and sympathies seem somewhat hollow to those of us who will not be able to enjoy this day. Don’t you agree? I sincerely hope fun is had by all, and I’ll try again next year, but how will I know the same thing won’t happen?

  • Beth Berglin says:

    The Enthusiast Membership makes all of the problems disappear! For an extra 10 bucks per event you can secure your ticket to every event. It couldn’t be a better solution!! Thanks Scott G, Shannon, Isaac, Eric, Scott N-B and the rest of the Board for your continued efforts to make Michigan a fantastic place to drink, brew and sell beer.

    • Shannon (Communications Manager) says:

      Thank you, Beth! We all really appreciate your support and positivity! 😀

    • Nikki Jones says:

      that is also why i purchased my husband an HBA membership which limits him to purchase ONE ticket early… but that’s didn’t work. how many extra fees should people have to pay for to be able to secure admission to this event?

      • Shannon (Communications Manager) says:

        Hi Nikki – the HBA is unaffiliated with the Michigan Guild and vice versa, and the Winter Beer Festival is not an HBA event.

        • Nikki Jones says:

          you are affiliated if they can advertise that as part of being a member. it worked for summer beer fest. please make another excuse

          • Shannon (Communications Manager) says:

            Hi Nikki – I’ve sent you an email so that we can have a more efficient exchange. I’d like to figure out the confusion here if possible. Feel free to email me back at or give me a call at the number listed on our Contact Us page.

  • I was not dissapointed about the number of the tickets available, but in the inadequacy of the website to handle the flush of people. It was obvious that this festival would sell out in a much shorter time than last year, and so I, like many others, logged on the minute they went on sale. I am frustrated because I tried for over an hour to buy tickets as the website crashed over and over and finally listed the event as sold out before I could even get any tickets loaded into my cart. Because it was obvious that there would be such high demand this year, I would expect that the Brewers Guild had time to think of an adequate platform for ticket sales.

    I have gone to this event for the past 3 years, and now that I have moved away from Michigan to Denver I still planned on flying back to attend, yet I was never able to get tickets myself. Adding to my sadness is the anticipation I felt as I repeatedly tried to get the website to work and just watched the timer tick down as my webpage would not load.

    This year can serve as a learning experience, but I would hope that next year things will be different. Choose a ticket sales website that can handle the enormous volume of people who will undoubtedly flush the system again next year. Perhaps a waiting room that only allows a few people access to the site at once, and people exit the waiting room in the order they entered. That way, if you see you are #18,000 you won’t waste your time.

  • So, in other words, join the Michigan Brewers Guild and you get first dibs on craft beer events and secondly, hold a lottery for others who couldn’t buy online. Send in a stamped, self-addressed envelope with a check for 2 tickets. Select a random sample. Winners all!

  • Kerry says:

    I am impressed with the amout of time and consideration the Guild has taken to respond individually to everyone with complaints regarding the ticketing issues, and I trust that they are working as hard as they can to fix this for next year.
    Also, Guild employees don’t get to go to the festival. They work at the festival. They will be there long before the festival starts and long after it ends, not running around sampling beers, but tending to everything necessary so that the rest of us can do just that.
    And remember, its a beer festival! For Michigan beer fans! Which IS awesome, I agree, but its just one freaking day of life. Aren’t we all supposed to be nice, genuine people who support each other? Can’t we all understand and sympathize with a website overload that, hey, maybe we caused a little by opening 6 windows and resubmiting orders over and over again? I guess I just feel like a little perspective is in order, and some thanks for the fact that we live in a state with the best beer and the best people making it. Take solice in the fact that, if you wanted, you could probably go to a beer festival of some capactiy on any weekend of the year somewhere in our state, because craft beer is everywhere in Michigan. And its only going to get more popular, which means getting into events is only going to get that much harder in the future. So buck up, folks! Go drink a beer at your local brewery and take some deep breaths. Life will be okay.

  • Matt says:

    I appreciate the guild does the best they can. And I understand the guild had their hands tied to this ticket vendor. I also recognize that 18,000 people trying to buy 6000 tickets at the same time is going to cause crashing. It’s unfortunate that so many are so wrapped in a “Me! Me! Me!” attitude. Sad, because that’s not the type of attitude and culture the the craft scene was built on. Maybe it’s karma that so many negative people failed to get tickets.

  • Nikki Jones says:

    i see the communications manager is taking time to only respond to POSITIVE comments. that’s not customer service, that’s favoritism.

    • Shannon (Communications Manager) says:

      Hi Nikki – that’s simply not the case. Take a look through these comments and you’ll see that I’ve responded to many negative comments (like, for example, this one).

      • Nikki Jones says:

        well then perhaps they just overshadowed the sterile, corporate, matter-of-fact answers that the negative ones got, whereas the kiss-ass “oh i just love you guys and all you do!” comments (surprisingly majority from people who GOT their tickets) get responses like “OMG I love you and I want to like buy you a beer!!!!”

        keep up the good work.

        • Shannon (Communications Manager) says:

          Hi again, Nikki. The Michigan Brewers Guild is a non-profit organization with a total of two people on payroll, both of whom work from their homes. I’m doing my best to address all comments and feedback. If there’s something in particular that you’re upset about or would like to discuss, please feel free to email me at, or give me a call. My cell # is listed on our website in the Contact Us section. Thanks.

  • Ian Roberts says:

    It’s not all the same people attending – my wife and I will be attending for the first time. I joined the Michigan Brewers Guild about four years ago and really enjoy the benefits of membership, especially the opportunity to enter an MBG festival an hour early.

    We live in Ohio and are regular attendees at the MBG Summer Festival in Ypsilanti. For the 2014 Winter Festival, being MBG members, we each were given a “reserved” ticket which we were informed needed to be purchased on November 30th, otherwise these tickets would be allocated back to general sales on Dec 1st. Not wanting to risk anything, I got online at 12.05am on November 30th and got our tickets without any problems, before the computer glitches made themselves apparent.

    I know it’s frustrating not to get tickets – I’ve tried for FOUR years running to get tickets to Goose Island’s Stout Festival which takes place in early Spring each year. It’s claimed the 2013 festival sold out in SEVEN SECONDS!!!

  • phil says:

    Ok everyone. Why cry over spilled milk. I’m sure the guild is going to do everything it can to correct the problem in the future. Let’s face it, the WBF is an amazing event, and everybody wants to take part. There just isn’t enough tickets to go around. Here’s a suggestion, this is what we did last year when we missed out on tickets. Get together everybody you can that is interested in craft beer and have an outside event wherever you can have a bon fire. Have everybody bring a six pack or more of their favorite craft beer. And have a great time with friends and family. We had just as much fun as we would’ve if we had gone to the WBF. And that’s what we’ll do the next time as well. Take a bad thing and turn it into a great time.

Our mailing address: Michigan Brewers Guild • 225 W Washtenaw, Suite C • Lansing, MI 48933

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