Bendigo's unique walking beer festival returns in 2016 bigger, more diverse and more independent than before.
The third Bendigo on the Hop takes place on August 20 and features 28 Australian brewers – six of them local to the region – showcasing 56 beers at ten venues across the city. As well as beer tastings, some venues will be hosting live music.
The event is run by the not for profit Bendigo Beer, whose co-founder Trev Birks (pictured below) said of the decision to go all independent: "While we agree good beer is good beer no matter who makes it, in keeping with our ethos of educating our followers about who owns the beer they’re drinking and promoting Australian breweries, we decided to be brave and take this approach.
"As a result, it meant saying goodbye to The Black Swan, Icon, Taphouse and The Metro as they had inflexible tap contracts with CUB and Lion. On the flip side, The Rifle Brigade has worked with Lion to free up more taps for local beers given their positive experience in last year’s festival, which was a great result.
"The most exciting change though, will be two new pop-up venues featuring two of Bendigo’s best craft beer pubs, The Cambrian Hotel and Golden Vine Hotel. Hopefully, it goes well and we can expand again next year to include some of our other great crafty venues who are that little bit too far out of the CBD to walk to."
Bendigo's crafty embrace
As for the rise in craft beer and small scale brewing in and around the city since Bendigo Beer was launched with the aim of promoting just that, he says: "It’s been immensely satisfying to see Bendigo embrace good beer and invest in the industry with some confidence knowing locals and tourists will support it. What started as a hard slog individually approaching venues to stock something better has become its own beast growing organically – with the odd strategic nudge from us!
"Most would have heard about Handle Bar, a shareholder owned craft beer bar in the middle of the CBD that opened in November 2015. The concept was born from the type of drinking culture Bendigo Beer established, and supported by a large group of like-minded people who wanted to build something different to what was already here.
"From a selfish point of view, it’s great to be out drinking with friends and not have to persuade them to pick a venue stocking good beer. The selection is quite extensive now. With six local breweries and, more importantly, 53 pubs, bars and restaurants within a 90km radius of Bendigo stocking a wide range of good beer, we’re confident central Victoria can make a genuine claim to be Australia’s premier regional craft beer region."
Tickets are being sold via Capital Venues and Events, meaning sales are handled locally too. They cost $59, which includes 28 tasting tokens, a souvenir glass and program.
NB If you're a Crafty Cabalista, we've got four tickets to give away. Check your member's area!