The curtains have come down on the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for another year, but there’s cheer of a different kind just around the corner. Good Beer Week brings 100 events celebrating beer in every way you could imagine to venues across Melbourne and Victoria from May 12 to 19.
The eight day festival sees brewers and beer lovers from all over Australia gather in Melbourne alongside stars of the international beer world for showcases, masterclasses, tours, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, beer-themed comedy, new beer launches and a lot more. It is the second running of Good Beer Week, which was created almost overnight in 2011 and ended up selling out events across the city.
In 2012, it returns bigger and bolder, with more than twice as many events and a greater regional focus that sees events taking place from Bright in the north to Red Hill in the south. Around Melbourne, fine dining establishments, cocktail bars and beer-matching chocolatiers are among the venues joining those who hosted Good Beer Week events first time around.
“The beer world in Australia is undergoing a massive change for the better,” says festival co-founder James Smith, a beer writer and creator of craft beer website The Crafty Pint. “It remains the ultimate social drink – the drink of the people – but thanks to the growth of the local microbrewing industry and the arrival of some incredible imported beers, it’s undergoing something of a reevaluation as drinkers discover the vast range of styles on offer and how the right beer can be as much a match for the fine dining restaurant as the barbie. Just as there was a revolution in the wine world, so we’re experiencing one in the beer world.
“We created Good Beer Week in just a few weeks last year to coincide with the Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA), which traditionally attracts interstate and overseas brewers. The response was incredible so we’ve built on that with a festival that is being celebrated throughout the state’s breweries and beer venues and at plenty of unexpected places too.”
Among those hosting events for the first time are cocktail bars 1806 and Black Pearl, restaurants such as The Botanical, Wayside Inn, the Station Hotel, and the Little Press Club, while Pope Joan and The Bishop of Ostia is the scene for a five course beer vs wine “Slapdown”. There are weeklong showcases of beers from across Australia and New Zealand, events celebrating incredible Italian brews and beers and sake from Japan, plus events at wineries, beer sorbet masterclasses and the return of favourites from 2011, including Josie Bones’ Big Good Beer Feast, Brewers & Chewers at The Local Taphouse and the Hair of the Dog Breakfast at Beer DeLuxe.
Good Beer Week’s centre piece event is the Masterclass of Champions – and true once in a lifetime experience. It sees guests join the brewers from Norway’s Nøgne Ø (2010 AIBA champions) and California’s Moylan’s (2011 AIBA champions) for a unique brew day, masterclass and degustation at Yarra Valley’s Hargreaves Hill brewery. The brewery will be transformed for the day by The 36 Collective, “dining chameleons” who are bringing together a team of chefs and waiting staff from the Stokehouse, Auction Rooms and other top restaurants to create a one-off themed degustation matched to the brewers’ beers.
The brewing world will discover who has won this year’s trophies at the Gala Dinner for the 20th anniversary of the AIBAs on May 17, while drinkers will be gathering en masse for the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular, a showcase of 60 new Australian and Kiwi beers created specially for the occasion, which takes over the Royal Exhibition Building from May 11 to 13.
Good Beer Week Masterclass of Champions – May 15 – 9am to 3pm
This truly unique Good Beer Week experience combines a once in a lifetime beer masterclass with the 2010 and 2011 Australian International Beer Awards Champion Brewers and an exquisite beer degustation created by chefs from some of Melbourne’s top restaurants.
Nøgne Ø’s Kjetil Jikiun and Moylan’s founder Brendan Moylan and head brewer Denise Jones are joining forces to create a one-off beer especially for Good Beer Week at the Yarra Valley’s Hargreaves Hill Brewery. Learn all about their breweries, beers and brewing techniques then enjoy a mammoth three-course degustation matched to beers (and possibly sake) from the three breweries presented by The 36 Collective, featuring a team of chefs and staff from the Stokehouse and Auction Rooms, brought together for one day only.
It is the first of what will become a series of masterclasses in future years. Tickets cost $250pp, which includes transport to and from Melbourne CBD to the brewery and a limited edition 750ml bottle of the finished beer delivered to each guest. Tickets are available here.