When the Rockstarbeer Productions team hosted their first San Diego Beer Festival at Bassmnt Nightclub back in 2013, they had no idea how much they would have grown. Below is a Q&A with the group's leader, 31-year-old Director of Sales and Marketing, Ryan Wieczorek.
What brought Rockstarbeer Productions to San Diego?
We wanted to go to a city with a huge craft beer culture. Las Vegas is where we got our start but the craft beer culture is still being developed. San Diego is known as being the craft beer capital of America. So naturally, we had to come here to try it out.
Tell us about your first event.
Hahaha!! It was interesting. Our first event was held downtown at Bassmnt Nightclub. We loved the ambiance of it and the whole party-esque vibe. Although the decor was awesome, it was a nightmare in logistics. We were a small and new team back then, six people - three guys and three girls. Half of us just graduated college, the other half were still in college. So, the three of us guys, which we aren't very big, were responsible for loading in 50 kegs of beer from the streets to various spots within the nightclub. We barely were able to setup in time. We tried to run full band sets through the DJ systems, LOL, without using extra sound equipment. We had one guy, who checked people off a paper list, to check everyone in, all 1200 attendees. If I could describe our first event in San Diego, it would have been beer-fest meets frat party. We have come along way since then.
Where did you go from there?
We know we needed a bigger venue and a more effective way to produce the event. So, we went to Hard Rock Hotel San Diego's Float Rooftop and pool area. We partnered with them on the event so they took over the stage and sound production and we worried about getting the beer there. The Stone Brewing Co. representative, Lisa Govenar, was the first brewery to start working with us. She took a liking to us and started helping us get other breweries involved. With the breweries' support, we were able to get some great craft beer at the event. We named the event "The Rock Star Beer Festival," as a way of saying this was half craft beer fest and half music festival. The partnership with both Hard Rock and Stone made the event a super success and that is when we started getting noticed.
What kinds of events is Rockstarbeer doing now?
Three years after our Bassmnt beer fest, we now produce a multitude of beer-centered events in San Diego. We produce five San Diego Beer Cruises at Night with Hornblower during the summer, and one during San Diego Craft Beer Week. We produce a Tacos and Beer Fest with Blk Owl. We partner with 91x San Diego to produce Beer X - Beer and Music Festival. We still do our Rock Star Beer Festival, but our flagship event is the San Diego Beer and Music Festival.
What is the San Diego Beer and Music Festival?
We like to call this a craft beer festival mixed with music festival. We host a four-hour event at night with over 50 breweries and national bands to create a beer and music heaven. Sometimes you go to a beer festival and you get bored and leave early, we want people who come to this event, to stay all four hours and be dancing and smiling the whole time.
What's the biggest challenge you've faced in your career thus far?
It's all about getting above the competition and bringing in new concepts, new ideas. We want to put on events that bring back old guests while bringing new ones in. We have to put ourselves in guests shoes, because they have so many options to choose from in San Diego. How can we make San Diegans come out to each and every one of our events?
What's next on your to-do list?
The biggest thing we want to do is a cool craft beer festival with food and music - something like BottleRock in Napa Valley, but next-level and with craft beer. It'll have a $2 million-$3 million talent roster. The location is still up in the air - we'll probably develop it in San Diego, since that's the [Southwest's] hub of beer culture, but we can also have it in Las Vegas because of the huge tourist market. We've even considered doing it in both cities. We just need to find the right venue and the right time.