Nick O / 20.08.12
In 2011, the folks behind Beermen.tv decided to do something extra to help boost the profile of craft beer in Sydney. They got a few venues involved, borrowed a few spare hands and launched the first Sydney Craft Beer Week – modest in scale, but well received. Perhaps the most significant gain from SCBW Version 1.0 was confirmation that the potential for something big was there – all it needed was to be harnessed.
Fast forward nine months or so and the details of Sydney Craft Beer Week 2012 have just been released. And my how it’s grown. It seems that latent potential has been tapped likely a freshly delivered keg with venues across the city having combined to create a diverse calendar of more than 60 events between October 20 and 28.
As Todd Venning, one of the Beermen and organisers, says: “We think the programme this year really highlights Sydney’s growing taste for better beer across all areas of food and hospitality. We’ve got restaurants, cafes, pubs, bottle shops and of course breweries putting their hands up to organise some amazing beer and food experiences.”
The rather rapid scaling up of events from year one to year two speaks volumes of the way craft beer is catching on around the city. Buoyed by the opening of new breweries like Young Henry’s and Riverside Brewing, the proliferation of some older names like Rocks Brewing and the emergence of new local beer labels such as Grifter and Dennis Beer Co., the scene appears to be thriving in all aspects.
One of the particularly pleasing aspects of this year’s schedule is the uptake of events being held at the new breed of craft-friendly small bars, which we wrote about on The Crafty Pint a few weeks ago.
“Sydney’s small bars are popping up all over the place and thankfully we’re not seeing your stereotypical boutique wine bars here,” says Todd. “Instead it’s an eclectic range of casual dining venues with great beers lists that are now being used to differentiate themselves in the market. Judging by how busy these places are so soon after opening, there is a huge momentum behind craft beer in Sydney now”.
Food is always a highlight of any great festival and SCBW is certainly no exception. Some of Sydney’s top chefs have been getting acquainted with local breweries to help showcase the diversity in flavour the pairing can offer. Todd says, “That overall theme is called ‘beer mimics food’ and the results will be some seriously amazing and unusual beers that you’ll find available at a range of events during the week.”
For the more serious beer lovers who want to get involved beyond simply attending, the ‘beer mimics food’ homebrewing event will provide some healthy competition with the added reward for the winner of having their beer commercially brewed afterwards.
The spectrum of events means SCBW isn’t just a case of having something for everyone, but should be seen as an opportunity to take part in experiences that only come around once a year, or perhaps once in a lifetime.
As for the Beermen, they’ll get a chance to revel in some of the vibe they have helped create when they kick off the week with another incarnation of their infamous Hair of the Dog beer breakfast. According to Todd , it’s “scientifically proven*” as a good way to start the day.
When tickets go on sale on Wednesday 22nd August they’ll no doubt get picked off rather quickly, so if you’re keen on attending events it’ll pay to book early to avoid any disappointment. But whatever events you may be lucky enough to attend, be sure leave a little room for some unplanned fun.
As Todd says: “We have some other big surprises in store for the week but these will be revealed as we get closer to kick-off. Everyone likes surprises”.
(Photo at top taken at the Beermen Brunch in 2011 at Harts Pub.)
*Todd did add the disclaimer that “we’re not scientists, but Mark does have a Doctor’s costume”. And that’s good enough for us.