Nick O / 29.10.12
Of all the festivals to get off the ground last year, few did it as well as Newcastle’s inaugural Craft Beer Week. Created by Corey Crooks from The Albion Hotel and Mark Mead from the Warners at the Bay bottleshop to coincide with the latter’s long-running festival, it enticed around 2,000 punters to beer-themed events at venues across the city. And in three weeks' time they’re doing it all again, but this time around with more venues and more events featuring more beers and more brewers.
It runs from November 18 to 25 and leading the charge again is Corey, not just in pushing people to get on board but also in running events every night at his pub, one of which is already sold out.
“Sometimes it took a bit of convincing, but people are now recognising what something like Newcastle Craft Beer Week can do for the area,“ he says. "This year we’ve had support from local council, tourism and the Newcastle Herald [the region’s largest newspaper].”
But with the quick growth in size between last year and the schedule for year two, is there any chance that it’s too much, too soon?
“Newcastle has a fairly big population so I think there’s room for more growth in the city’s craft beer market,“ he says. "The more places that get involved, the easier it is for people to get access to better beer. It’s more about learning from last year and changing a few things about the way things work.”
Indeed, it’s the simple refinement of ideas that should ensure things go down as smoothly as a good chocolate porter for guests. Take the Pint of Origin concept, which debuted at May’s Good Beer Week in Melbourne, as an example. Here, designated venues will only be pouring beer from a chosen state. To take some pressure off having to find your way around, organisers have added a bus tour so you can get around all the PoO pubs in a day.
Another is Morpeth Brewery, the latest addition to the Aussie craft brewing family, which is putting on a free bus to get punters from the train station to their venue. Even novel little twists on tried and tested beer dinners will go down a treat, like ‘Growl On’ where guests get to try nine beers from eight breweries, then take a growler of their favourite beer home with them.
Add those kinds of customer-friendly initiatives onto the big beer breakfasts, long lunches, even bigger and longer dinners, tap takeovers, brewers talking, brewers brewing, cooking with beer, stuff just for the girls and a closing festival at Warners that’s been sold out for months and you’ve got the makings of one hell of an enjoyable week.
All that’s left to do is to get along. As Corey says: “A festival is nothing without the people”.
Newcastle Craft Beer Week runs from November 18 to 25 and tickets are on sale for events now. For all the details about individual events including dates and prices, head to the official Newcastle Craft Beer Week website.