One hundred and twenty five attendees, 570 litres of beer, 13 Speakers (including one that flew in from Colorado), four commercial brewers, a live link up with the United States, a four course meal with after-dinner entertainment and a heap of give aways. It was a whirlwind 24 hours that I cannot describe to you without swearing in joy!
The inaugural Queensland Homebrewing Conference was a true display of the skills that Queensland brewers possess. There were delicious beers on offer made by Queensland hands and great insights from local brewers into the world of water chemistry, competition brewing, recipe formulation and even how to grow hops at home in the Queensland climate. There was of course some outside help with John Carroll from White Labs Yeasts coming to address the conference (in what was a highlight of the day for many attendees), representatives from Bintani and Hop Products Australia and some commercial brewers from interstate all who added their great part to the day.
As both Brews News Editor Matt Kirkegaard and the Courier Mail’s Rory Gibson said, it was daunting to think about just how much brewing talent had descended on Southbank over the weekend. But the really special part of that was that all of us who attended were so like minded that conversations about brewing and about beer were easily struck up, no matter our backgrounds. I personally met a group of really top blokes at the pre-drinks on Friday night and we had a ball talking about our brewing, different craft beer and all while tasting some exquisite beers. I had never met them before, I may never meet them again; but that isn’t the point.
The point is that brewing and beer are things that can really bring a group of people together, the great thing about having those conversations with other brewers is that they are different conversations than those I have written about having previously. It wasn’t a conversation explaining craft beer and its qualities. Nor was there a need for explanation of the flavours that we should or shouldn’t taste in the beers that we were drinking. No. It is much deeper than that, when you’re talking about beers with other, like minded brewers. You stick your nose in the glass (no explaining why we need to do this like when you’re with uninitiated friends), you take a mouthful and you look at each other and just know. No words are needed because brewers just get it. They rub their hands together or they smile and nod. They get what is good and they get what is bad in a beer and more importantly, they know WHY. That is what is truly unique about brewers.
Another really awesome moment was at the conference beer and food matching dinner on Saturday night. The dinner itself was a great experience and something that I would love to do again soon. It was held at Decks restaurant, which is a beautiful fine dining venue in the heart of Southbank. In total juxtaposition to these surroundings, sitting on top of the restaurant’s bar was a great big keg of home brew. I saw it as I looked up from reading the dismal Decks ‘beer’ list and had a chuckle to myself, thinking “If you won’t provide decent beer, then we shall bring our own!”
The weekend was full of little experiences like this, that made it a wonderful experience. That’s why I think it has to happen again next year in some form. Now that it has been done, and done so well, the think tank of like minded brewers is what good beer in Queensland really needs to keep going forward at the rate that it is; without the brewers, there is no beer. Until then, keep talking about it to everyone you know so that we have more brewers in attendance next time! For more information visit the QHC website.
*The author works for Brewers Choice, one of the organisers of the conference. He writes their blog The Hop Bag.