Next week the Victorian Microbreweries Showcase returns to The Atrium at Melbourne’s Federation Square. This popular public tasting event, which occurs twice each year, always provides something special for both newcomers to microbrewery beers and for seasoned craft beer fans.
For those who are unfamiliar with the diverse range of styles, flavours and the character potential of beer, the showcase is the perfect place to start a journey into the tasty world of beer. Pale and dark beers; red, black and brown ales; bitter and hoppy ales; sweet stouts and thirst quenching brews are all in arms reach.
Regular drinkers of local microbrewery beers and knowledgeable craft beer tragics can also find something new and different to stimulate their senses at every Microbreweries Showcase. Back in March this year it was the surprise emergence of Cavalier Brewing. There were also several new specialty releases, such as the Pinky Framboise raspberry lambic from Bright Brewery and the just bottled Thorny Goat Black IPA collaboration beer between Mountain Goat and Thornbridge breweries.
This time around, for those who think they have experienced it all before, there will be first time exhibitors from Black Heart Brewery, Forrest Brewing Co and Two Birds Brewing.
The brand new Black Heart Brewery, currently being established in Brighton by 2009 VicBrew Champion brewer Robin Brown along with assistant brewer Brad Schultz, will be unleashing an extensive start-up range that includes a weizen, dunkelweizen, American pale ale, American brown ale and a Belgian blonde.
Separating this event from many of the other beer tastings and expos, which are occurring more frequently these days, is that this showcase features only Victorian breweries. The exhibitors are promoting Victorian business, craft and innovation.
The Microbreweries Showcase, an initiative of Victorian Association of Microbreweries Inc and Regional Development Victoria, began in 2006 with 16 breweries on display. Originally held three times a year, it was scaled back to a biannual event yet continues to grow with over 35 beer businesses now on display.
Long time observers of the Microbreweries Showcase have witnessed several businesses come and go, often a consequence of the increasingly though and crowded beer market, whilst others have blossomed. Brewers with expanding portfolios of beers are a sure sign of success. Some have been known to use the showcases as a vehicle for free sensory evaluation and ad-hoc market research by trialling new brews and gauging public reactions.
Ben Kraus has participated in every Showcase since it began and he testifies to the value of the event. Although none of his beers appeared in the People’s Choice Awards back in March, his Bridge Road Brewers stall was one of the hardest to access due to the constant large crowd queuing around the custom built bar that was pouring their Big Red Rocket and Bling IPA. The exposure to Melbourne’s bustling scene and the encouragement from meeting and chatting with his many Twitter followers, as well as new drinkers of his brews, is worth the journey and expense of bringing Bridge Road Brewers down from Beechworth.
Next week Ben will be pouring his Saison Noir Anniversary Ale, a Smokey Breakfast Lager (the 500th Bridge Road brew), the Chevalier Dunkel Hefeweizen and the two Single Hop IPAs that showcase the use of Stella and Galaxy hops.
Following the event’s expansion in March to include a Cider Garden, this month the event has grown again, stretching beyond the exhibition in The Atrium. On Thursday journalist and craft beer advocate, James Smith of The Crafty Pint, will host two “Meet the Brewers” sessions in the BMW Edge auditorium.
Smith noted that the capacity crowds at the last few showcases has made it harder for brewers to engage with the public as much as they could in the past. Therefore, these Q&A sessions will provide another avenue for direct interaction in a less crowded space.
Smith is keen to present some of the young, up-and-coming brewers from across Victoria, such as MoonDog’s Josh Uljans and Jon Seltin of Bright Brewery. There may also be a look into what it takes to start a new small brewing business in Victoria, featuring brewers who are in the midst of doing just that, such as Two Birds and Black Hearts. The two sessions, the first at 5.30pm and then a repeat performance at 7pm, are free for all showcase ticket holders.
Tickets for the Microbreweries Showcase can be purchased via Ticketmaster.
There will be a limited number of tickets reserved for walk-ups on both days to give the last minute punters a chance to get in. However, pre-booking tickets is recommended to avoid disappointment. On the last several occasions, walk-up tickets sold out within hour of the event starting.
The early forecast of warm and sunny days will ensure another capacity crowd looking to quench their midweek thirst with Victorian beer.
The list of confirmed exhibitors at next week’s showcase is:
- 2 Brothers Brewery
- Barleycorn Brewers
- Bellarine Brewing Company
- Black Heart Brewery
- Bridge Road Brewers
- Bright Brewery
- Buckley’s Beers
- Cavalier Brewing
- Coldstream Brewery
- Forrest Brewing Co.
- Grand Ridge Brewery
- Hawthorn Brewing Company
- Holgate Brewhouse
- James Squire Brewhouse at Portland Hotel
- Kooinda Brewery / Happy Place Brewing
- Matilda Bay Garage
- Mornington Peninsula Brewery
- Mountain Goat Brewery
- Napoleone & Co
- Prickly Moses – Otway Estate
- Rebello Wines
- Red Duck Brewery
- Southern Bay Brewing Co
- The 3 Ravens Brewing Co
- Three Troupers Brewery
- Tooborac Hotel and Brewery
- True South Brewery
- Two Birds Brewing
- White Rabbit Brewery
- The Beer Lovers Guide to Australia
- Microbeer Club
- Mrs Parmas
- The Local Taphouse
- The Beer Boys
- Aussie Brew Tours
- Good Beer Week