January 7 2013 by Crafty Pint
For a long time, it always seemed something of an anomaly that Geelong, just a few kilometres down the road from the craft beer hotbed that is Melbourne, was such a craft beer desert. A few micros had come and gone and, while you could find Prickly Moses and Bellarine beers in a handful of bars, there was little else making headway. But, as with many cities around Australia, it could only resist for so long…
Now, with Southern Bay producing some quality craft beers under its own label alongside its contract brewing business, Little Creatures set to open a major facility there and the likes of the Odyssey Tavern, Randall’s and the Vue Grand in Queenscliff getting behind craft beer in a major way, things are rather better. And adding to the beery buzz is the final beer festival of the Victoria summer: the grandly monikered Great Australian Beer Festival.
Following a similar format to the Ballarat Beer Festival that was a huge success in 2012 (and returns on January 19) and coming a few months after Beers By The Bay, Geelong’s first craft beer festival will see more than 100 beers and ciders from 25-plus producers being poured for punters on February 2 alongside live entertainment headlined by Bob Evans and much tasty grub from a selection of the region’s venues.
As for why it’s happening, organiser Kieran Blood says: “A combination of things. For one, the number and quality of brewers in the region: they are producing among the countryâs best craft beers. Despite that, with all these breweries on our doorstep, much of their product had not made it into local venues and bottleshops, at least not to the scale of other towns and cities.
“In addition, with the news that Little Creatures was opening its East Coast brewery here in Geelong, it seemed inevitable that Geelong had the potential to develop into an exciting craft beer scene. Mainstream Geelong had overlooked the industry and needed to be introduced to what craft beers have to offer, and a festival is a great way to create that exposure. Not just through the festival itself, but also through the publicity that an event like this gets. Even those that donât attend are seeing craft beer ads, articles and general publicity everywhere.”
The festival takes place at the Geelong Racecourse and will also feature a series of seminars featuring brewers and beer personalities. They include the Beer Diva exploring Beer and Cheese Tasting and Beer and Ice Cream, alongside Timboon Ice Cream, plus home brew demonstrations, the latest on the Cavalier Courage fundraising project and Meet the Brewers sessions with the region’s finest.
“It has been a long haul,” says Kieran. “There is a lot of work goes into organising a festival, but we are stoked with how it has progressed. The local brewers themselves have been priceless, they have given us great feedback, been involved in marketing and publicity – generally nothing is too much trouble for them. That is something that is an undercurrent in the industry and it’s great to be involved with. As well as that, the City of Greater Geelong and tourism bodies have been really helpful and have backed us all the way. This kind of support makes it all easier but more importantly enjoyable.
“The location is a standout, it will create a great atmosphere with the brewers serving from the old horse stalls, large grassed areas and trees, talented musicians like Bob Evans adding to the atmosphere, people enjoying themselves. We are aiming to create a massive beer garden, with brewers the focus but with live music and other entertaining spot fires keeping the punters guessing. I feel like a beer just thinking about it!”
The festival runs from 11am to 7pm with tickets starting at $39pp plus booking fee. They will be running a token system too so you could be advised to pre-purchase to save time on the day. Book here.
The organisers are on the lookout for volunteers to assist on the day. Details can be found here.