Long-time beer drinker Ross Lewis looks at the Good Beer Week that was in Melbourne.
The eyes are less bloodshot now. Our livers have returned to normal function. And the waist-lines might be a notch wider on the belt buckle.
Good Beer Week and all its festivities are over for another year. But the brewing bonanza in Melbourne was again an outstanding success for the industry.
There were a lot of key events, great moments and highlights over the eight days.
And The Sip has sat back, reflected on the extravaganza and determined the top five things we learned from Good Beer Week.
1. Melbourne might not be the centre of Australia’s beer universe but it is undoubtedly the best place to stage all the activities of such a long festival. Its plethora of inner city hotels and restaurants give visitors a wonderful choice. Take the Royston Hotel last Wednesday. The pub on the edge of Richmond was standing room only for its Pint of Origin performance. Good transport is also vital and the Victorian capital provides plenty of travelling options.
2. The pairing of food and beer is becoming a stronger focus for craft consumers. There were a significant amount of events that gave patrons the opportunity to learn what brews go with particular dishes. The Cavalier Brewing lunch at Ombra restaurant was a perfect example. Cavalier’s Brown Ale matched with Ombra’s lamb was superb. Not to mention the Imperial Stout and chocolate cake.
3. Our brewers are great experimenters. It was significant that Head Judge at the Australian International Beer Awards, Warren Pawsey, commented that local beer makers’ use of hops was redefining the Australian Pale Ale style. The variety has become considerably fruitier. And then there is the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular where convention was thrown out the window. Bacchus Brewing’s Rocky Road Dessert Beer was popular at the festival as was Ekim Brewing’s Tequila-spiked Ale, the sesame snaps in Two Birds Brewing’s Brown Ale, Garage Project’s seaweed and fish inspired Umami Ale and the peanut butter taste in Bootleg Brewery's Amber Ale. But in the end everyone loves chocolate, as proven by La Sirene's win as the People's Choice at GABS with their Belgian Specialty Ale.
4. The organisers of GABS have found the perfect place for their gala. The spread of the Royal Exhibition Building enabled everyone to get their paddles filled without collision, even on the packed Saturday session. The extension of the Dan Murphy Marketplace gave punters plenty of opportunity to talk to brewers about their beers and encouraged great interaction. The only issue about GABS is that you need at least two sessions to take in all the action. That is a problem we can all drink to.
5. We might be biased at The Sip but WA appears to again be leading the way in craft tipples. Mash Brewing are still celebrating their best beer win at the AIBA awards for their American India Pale Ale. Nail Brewing got the gold in the Porter class for their superb Hughe Dunn Brown Ale. And Feral’s Hop Hog continued its reign as the No.1 in the Critics Choice for 2013.