At the end of last week, I got two e-mails. One announced 2015 Arizona Cocktail Week, the other 2015 Arizona Beer Week. I should be excited. But I'm just kind of annoyed because both take place February 14 to 21. No big surprise, as that's happened the past few years without fail, and yet I really don't understand why this must be the case.
While the upcoming festival season is looking bright, the competition between events is frustrating in a town that would be better served by the two culinary events building each other up and reinforcing the state's beverage culture, rather than forcing people to pick which is worth the time and money.
It's important to note that obviously these two massive week-long festivals are not put on by the same people so it's not like they have any specific allegiance to help the other, but come on. Arizona Craft Brewers Guild... USBG Phoenix... Can't we all just get along?
There are plenty of people in the food and beverage industry who would benefit from the tastings and information provided at both events. There also are plenty more people who just enjoy both beer and cocktails and shouldn't have to make the choice each year. I get that you can go to Cocktail Week events some days and Beer Week events other days, but this also isn't Lollapalooza and you shouldn't have to decide between events like having to pick between seeing Radiohead or Jay-Z. I want both.
There are 52 weeks in the year, and only one of these festivals has a large outdoor component -- the 15th annual Strong Beer Fest, held as part of Beer Week. Obviously weather matters there, but not for the rest of the events. That's not to say that AZCW should have to switch weeks, but someone should be the bigger festival and pick a time that allows folks in the Valley to indulge in most if not all that's planned for both events.
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Next year, Arizona Beer Week has decided to celebrate its fifth year by lengthening to a nine-day span from February 12 to 21. Like the ever-expanding beer culture and list of local breweries around the state, this behemoth beer event keeps getting bigger and bigger.
The four-year-old Arizona Cocktail Week is sticking to the week-long format from February 14 to 21 and returning with familiar events like the Cocktail Carnival, Last Slinger Standing competition, and the Top Bars of the Nation pop-up.
So now we'll all have to choose which of these imbibable events is superior, or split our time between the two like some sort of boozed-up latch key kid. Although full schedules have yet to be announced for either (it is September after all), I foresee some tough choices in the future for Arizona drinkers and there isn't much we can do about it but suck it up and figure it out for ourselves, though I really hope 2016 is the year beer and cocktails work together.