The rise in the number of beer festivals on the calendar is a very positive sign for the continued growth of good beer – and I write having just returned from the highly successful Newcastle Craft Beer Week and the excellent Warners at the Bay festival.
While beer festivals appeal to the hard-core beer lover as a one-stop shop for the latest, biggest and baddest in the world of beer, any one of them who has shared a barrel-aged imperial stout with a non-beer-geek friend and been underwhelmed by the fact that their friends were underwhelmed will know that not everyone is of that mindset. I like festivals that find the expanse of middle ground between being get-in-and-drink-as-much-as-you-can swills and esoteric extreme tastings for the initiated. In its first year the Ballarat Beer Festival seems to be positioning itself right within this sweet spot, offering beers from more than twenty breweries, as well as food, being family friendly and offering strong entertainment.
Last week saw the official launch of the event, including the announcement of the headline acts. The music side of the event will be headlined by Claire Bowditch, Stonefield and Jordie Lane, three acts that are well enough known to have penetrated even my 1990s-middle-of-the-road consciousness. It’s a positive sign that will be very interesting to see whether Ballarat Beer Festival can establish itself on the Australian festival landscape.
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