While Australia’s largest beer festival was getting underway in Melbourne for its ninth time, Australia’s newest was getting started in Cairns for its first.
The Cairns Craft Beer Festival, held last Saturday, saw the region’s five craft breweries come together for the first time.
More than 3,000 festival-goers attended throughout Saturday afternoon. Hemingway’s Brewery Cairns CEO and co-founder Tony Fyfe said he was overwhelmed by the extent of the community’s interest and appetite for craft beer.
“It was great to be among the five breweries involved – each of us moving great volumes of craft beer in what was a local celebration of our industry and from the patron’s point of view, I think they loved the fact we had more than 30 locally brewed beers to choose from,” Fyfe said.
In addition to Hemingway’s Port Douglas and Cairns breweries, Barrier Reef Brewing Co, Stratford, Macalister’s Brewing Company, Smithfield, Coral Sea Brewing, Cairns and Townsville Brewery were all in attendance.
With Far North Queensland often seen as the heartland of crisp and refreshing beer, the leading beers in the People’s Choice Award highlighted the ways that the local breweries are making interesting craft beers relevant to the local market.
The inaugural People Choice winning beer was the Macalister’s Brewing Company Tropical Blonde Ale – Latitude 17, second place to Coral Sea Brewing’s Watermelon and Mangosteen Sour and third place to Barrier Reef Brewing Co’s Coconut Porter.
Local beer blogger BJ Foley who runs barefootdrinker.com said tastes are changing in the north.
“The Craft Beer Festival showed that there is a core of dedicated consumers who enjoy a broad range of beers that are finally allowed to come out into the spotlight,” he said.
“Festivals like this, where you are chatting with the brewers directly, starts that long-awaited change.
“Having Hemingways share their massive site with, effectively what is opposition, will simply emphasise the passion that these brewers and their consumers have, and what the world of good beer is about.
“If these continue then it will be a small step for the ‘beer from up here’ crowd to change to beers that are more enjoyable in the tropics because they have actually been crafted and refined in the tropics,” he said.
Tony Fyfe said that following the success of this year’s maiden event there will definitely be a second iteration of the Festival in 2020 and in the meantime, another interesting event is planned for later this year with details announced in the coming months.