Back in May, when Melbourne’s Good Beer Week was on and Melburnians were enjoying the best craft beer Australia has to offer, Sydneysiders like me were sitting in offices, watching social networks light up with exploits and beer tales. We were forced to feign indifference while seething with murderous jealousy on the inside.
This is why the announcement last week that Sydney will be celebrating our own Craft Beer week came as both a relief and a source of immense excitement.
Sydney Craft Beer Week runs from October 22nd to 30th and is an initiative spearheaded by beermen.tv host and all-round good guy Todd Venning. Todd, whose face and ponytail should be familiar to anyone who’s ever attended a craft beer event in the harbour city, was inspired by the success of Good Beer Week in Melbourne, so so he and his Beer Men colleagues have been designing the Sydney event with the intent to expand the reception and appreciation of craft beer around the city.
“It’s a week-long celebration of all things craft unlike Sydney’s seen before, based on inspiration of what we saw in Melbourne in April of this year,” Venning says.
“Sydney lags a little bit with respect to craft beer momentum, so we thought, well, someone’s got to do it. It may as well be us. We’re here to promote the fact that craft beer is available in Sydney, and that there are people that are willing to go in to bat for flavour over volume.”
Sydney is no stranger to festivals, with food, arts and cultural events increasing in popularity each year, but with a burgeoning beer appreciation scene and an ever-increasing number of venues serving interesting beer, the time is ripe for a week-long celebration.
“So far the response has been great because…it’s a first here in Sydney, and people really want to see something to kick-start a bit of excitement in our craft beer scene.”
The event calendar for Craft Beer Week includes beer tastings, feasts, as well as events that combine affordable craft beer with live music, fine dining and stand-up comedy. Venning hopes that the combination of beer with other entertainments will be a drawcard for people who aren’t already converts to the craft beer scene.
“Sydney Craft Beer week is not aimed at the beer geeks. We make no assumption that you know anything about what craft beer is…anyone should be able to come in, not know anything about beer, and be able to experience a real treat.”
Depending on the success and popularity of the events, and the week’s festivities in general, Venning and the Beermen are looking to make Sydney Craft Beer Week an annual event. While there is a cornucopia of good beer, food and entertainment on offer for this year, I can’t help but ask Todd about the ideas that didn’t come together in time.
“We had the intent to team up some people to do a collaborative brew,” Venning tells me.
“We were at the point where it almost looked like we were going to have a couple of collaborative brews ready before our mediaeval feast, but things conspired against us, so not this year.”
Likewise for a Sydney version of the famous Beermen ‘Hair of the Dog’ Breakfast, which has been a huge event at Melbourne’s Beer DeLuxe the past two years.
“We wanted to do a beer breakfast here, we had a venue in mind to do that, but unfortunately the venue was closed for renovation at the time that we needed to do it. So what else can we do? We paired up with the folks from Rocks Brewing and Harts Pub to do our mediaeval brewers’ feast.”
Not a bad substitute, of course.
Regardless of what we may be missing this year, there is no shortage of festivities around the city, and certainly no dearth of great beer to be found.