Well, it was inevitable wasn’t it? With numerous beer events and festivals popping up in many corners of Queensland, it was only a matter of time before Toowoomba claimed one for themselves. And why not?
Brewoomba – Toowoomba’s first ever craft beer festival – bursts into life tomorrow (November 14). It’s a collaborative project between the leading charges of three of the city’s more beer-centric venues: Simon Janetzki from The Mort Estate (pictured at the base of article); Peter Barbe from Tapestry Bar; and Phil Coorey from The Spotted Cow, whose brainwave it was to combine forces just two and a half months ago.
Joint efforts are nothing new to Queensland’s beer scene of course. The state already has a number of thriving beer communities that have given birth to their own festivals, including Gold Coast's recent Free The Hops and Brisbane’s successful Brewsvegas, which returns for a third time in March (and, like Toowoomba's affair, shows you can never have too many puns when it comes to beer).
There are notable hotspots elsewhere in the state too: Ipswich is embracing better beer after 4 Hearts' Wade Curtis pioneered it in his hometown, while there's an ever-evolving heartbeat on the Sunshine Coast, home to the likes of Black Bunny Kitchen, and beyond.
Respected brewer and local lad Ian Watson, who took many of his first steps in the beer world as beer sommelier at The Spotted Cow long before most of Australia knew there was any beer other than cold lager, brewed the festive drop at his Mt Tamborine workplace, Fortitude Brewing.
The beer, a pale ale, will be available on tap at all three venues throughout the day.
While The Mort Estate is focusing its efforts on lining up a rare selection of international brews, including beers from Stone Brewing in the US, Belgium's Rodenbach, Scotland's BrewDog and Norwegians Nøgne Ø, The Spotted Cow and Tapestry Bar are set for their own beer-infused State of Origin.
Beers from NSW, such as Stone & Wood, Murray’s, Rocks Brewing and New England Brewing, will be tapped at The Spotted Cow. However, if Queensland brewed beers are your preference, then Tapestry Bar is the place to be. There you'll find beers from the likes of Newstead Brewing, Green Beacon, Fortitude, All Inn and Granite Belt Brewery on tap.
Brewoomba co-creator Peter Barbe says the unique event has the potential to become a mainstay on Australia’s craft beer calendar.
“We were so keen to give the locals their own festival," he says. "We deserve something special here but we’re taking baby steps.
"It would be easy to throw this into a two-day affair but let’s just see how one afternoon goes and we’ll build on that for 2016.”
His venue, Tapestry (pictured right), is also hosting a Beer College in the afternoon, with a series of five masterclasses kicking off from 1pm through to 6pm.
A shuttle bus will run all afternoon and into the evening between the three bars to make transportation simple and stress free for festival goers. A $30 ticket gains holders unlimited use of the bus plus one schooner at each venue. However, the bus ticket is not compulsory, with all three venues open to the public too.
Just under five years ago, Brisbane-based Australian Brews News sounded a warning that the local beer scene was under dire threat following the "death" of Brisbane CBD venue, the Platform Bar (a warning that we shared with our readers in those early days of The Crafty Pint). As the beer scene in South East Queensland continues to thrive, nudging into more venues and putting better beer into more drinkers' hands, it's safe to say the owners of the Platform Bar misjudged where things were heading.
Here's to Brewoomba expanding the good beer community that little bit more.
About the author: Darren is better known to the beer world as 250 Beers: a blog, a series of t-shirts, and an ever present on the Brisbane beer scene. His alter ego proved so successful that he recently left a real job to work for Newstead Brewing.