Pint of Origin 2016 Preview Pt I

Back in 2011, in the aftermath of the first Good Beer Week, we got thinking about how we could make it easy for brewers from all over Australia – even those who never normally sent a keg outside their own four walls – to be a part of the festival with the minimum of effort and cost.

Thus, in 2012, Pint of Origin was born: a huge success from the off that has never looked back. Venues often enjoy their biggest week of the year, brewers get to come together on "foreign" soil for a catch up away from the rigours of daily life and punters keep flocking to see what rarities or old-but-seldom-seen beers are on offer.

Later this year, The Crafty Pint will be taking Pint of Origin (or PoO as it is affectionately known) on the road. Before then, when Good Beer Week lands on May 14, Melbourne and Victoria will be hosting its biggest PoO yet, taking over 12 Melbourne venues and two regional pubs. 

We're also running the first ever Crafty Pint hosted PoO Bus on each Saturday with Ben's Brew Tours. Join the site's founder and former Good Beer Week festival director James Smith for a tour of six venues each day, featuring 24 beers, food, goodies, surprises and door prizes totalling $1,000 over the two tours. 

Add in the return of the beer-laden PoO Comp with Now Tapped and GBW specials for Crafty Cabal members at all 12 Melbourne venues and there's plenty to look forward to. So, over two days, here's the lowdown on what to expect from all involved. 


CANADA – Beer DeLuxe Hawthorn

With its big sibling in Fed Square taking on Festival Hub status for the second year running, Beer DeLuxe Hawthorn decided it wanted a bit of Pint of Origin action. So it put its hand up for one of the lesser talked about yet amazingly high quality beer scenes: Canada.

Why have you got involved with Pint of Origin for the first time? 

Venue manager Sam Capogreco: For me, Pint of Origins are the stand out events of Good Beer Week. You know whichever venue you visit you are going to be able to choose form a selection of the greatest beers from that region. 

You can dive right in and immerse yourself with all things PoO, such as the Crafty bus tours, or you can Uber around at your own leisure and knock off your favourite beers at your own pace.

Why Canada?

SC: We really wanted to get involved in PoO, and after speaking to one of my staff Kentish (Jack Nicholson’s love child), we listed off all the countries that we felt would work. We kept coming back to Canada as they produce such amazing beer, but it’s so difficult to get our hands on. 

Oh, and I use to love Due South as a kid.

What are you most looking forward to over the week? 

SC: Good question… Difficult question… I’m going to have to say tapping the Les Trois Mousquetaires GC Porter Baltique or trying the chef's maple syrup glazed salmon. And the Due South reruns.

PoO Bus door prize: $50 bar voucher & brewery merch

Crafty Cabalista GBW special: Free tasting paddle – with nuts!


MELBOURNE – The Terminus

The Terminus in Fitzroy North was the first ever GBW Festival Hub, operating as the festival's home in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, it made its PoO bow, taking on the mantle of Victoria with a series of sold out events. This year it represents the brewers of Greater Melbourne.

What does being a Pint of Origin venue meant to you?

Venue manager Dave Langlands: Melbourne has one of the most diverse and exciting beer industries in all of Australia, even the world, and we take great pride in representing our home city Melbourne throughout Good Beer Week and showing everyone just why that is. 

We have so many good friends making amazing beer in Melbourne and being able to showcase their beer, run events with them and fly the flag for Melbourne is something that we look forward to every year.

Are there any special beers or special guests we can look forward to?

DL: The Terminus will be the place to be if you want to run into any of Melbourne's best brewers and beer personalities. We'll have meet the brewer events most days, so you'll be able to pick the brain of some of the best while enjoying their beers. We have lots of one-off releases and exciting beers we have been hiding away from the likes of Boatrocker, Moon Dog, Kaiju!, Exit, Dainton, Temple, Two Birds, BrewCult and heaps more. 

One particular beer we will even be tapping two distinct versions of. I don't want to give too much away but let's just say it rhymes with "Ham Wet".

And are you planning any PoO-related special events?

DL: Every one of our events has a distinctive Melbourne PoO focus. We are running a brew day bus out to Kaiju! and Exit's new brewery out in Dandy South, which is the first ever public opening of their brewery followed by a tap takeover party at the pub. 

We have a very special Boatrocker event called Based On A True Story, where head brewer Matt Houghton will be telling the story of Boatrocker through their beers which will be expertly matched with delicious food. 

Finally, we have our big ticket event Vic vs The World where we put four Melbourne breweries against four international breweries in a head to head, knockout tasting showdown where you pick the winner. It's going to be a huge week for Melbourne beer!

PoO Bus door prize: $50 bar voucher

Crafty Cabalista GBW special: Free pot (up to $7 value) with lunch


QUEENSLAND – The Fitzroy Pinnacle

We're particularly excited to add the Fitzroy Pinnacle to the PoO lineup this year. It's one of Melbourne's classic boozers – the sort you can take out-of-towners too and say: "This is one reason why Melbourne has a great reputation for its pubs."

The Pinnacle also suffered a serious fire a few months ago, losing its kitchen and outdoor stage. Both are yet to be replaced, so every beer you buy there in GBW is helping them survive until repairs are finished.

Why have you got involved with Pint of Origin for the first time? 

Owner Leigh Wilkes: To my mind, Pint of Origin is the quintessential Good Beer Week event, a road map to all the amazing beers produced in this country and across the universe. Having grown up in Queensland, this was also the perfect opportunity to wash the XXXX from my memory.

What can people look forward to from the Sunshine State? 

LW: An amazing array of seriously good beers that, for the most part, you don’t get to see regularly in Victoria. At last count we have 25 different beers to showcase throughout the week. Newstead, Green Beacon, Black Hops, 4 Hearts, Beard & Brau, Brisbane Brewing Co, Croft, Bacchus and Balter are some of the breweries you’ll get to try.

What beer(s) are you most looking forward to? 

LW: The Balter XPA is generating a bit of buzz for me, the type of beer you’d feel like smashing after you’ve punched a shark. Also, I’ve got some amazing, quirky stuff from perennial GABS favourites Bacchus Brewing.

PoO Bus Tour door prize: $50 bar voucher

Crafty Cabalista GBW Special: 2-for-1 pints


WESTERN AUSTRALIA – The Royston

WA's brewers return to The Royston in Richmond, where they'll find new owners – well, a former manager who's returned as owner – in charge. Edward Harley returns after helping turn The Terminus and Forester's Hall into much-loved beer haunts.

What's it like being back at the helm of the Royston after a few years away?

EH: I'm loving being back at the helm at the Royston as it has always been one of my favourite pubs, and the local I never had. I ran the place from 2005 to 2010 and absolutely loved that period of my life. I saw first hand the Royston go from strength to strength, year on year, but it was the people that made it the most enjoyable. I worked with a great team, many of whom are still great mates, and also established many friendships with people over the bar. 

The last few years had seen my role change meaning I was a step away from the customers and didn't have that daily interaction, so being back at the Royston re-engaging with the customers has been a lot of fun, especially in the role as publican. I'm also stoked with the team we have here and we have already built a family like culture behind the bar and in the kitchen.

What are your plans for the pub and, more specifically, PoO?

EH: We don't have any grand plans for the Royston, just looking to establish it as one of Melbourne's favourite gastropubs. The previous owners did a great job establishing the Royston as a great local pub, and we just want to build on that reputation by refining our product mix (food & beverage) and the way we deliver that to the customer. One of the biggest changes we have made is bringing in Nick Sawle as head chef. He's hugely experienced running pub kitchens over in London and, more recently, some awesome cafes in Melbourne. The response we are getting to his food has been nothing short of incredible.

In terms of Pint of Origin, we are stoked to be involved with the Western Australian breweries again. I had some help with some beer people over in WA to hand select a range of beers that I am ecstatic about. We've got a bunch of pallets being delivered to the Royston with 35 different beers on board. We'll have a small selection of solid core range beers on for the week and then eight taps rotating through a huge range of styles from lagers, sours, pale ales, IPAs, double IPAs, black IPAs, barrel aged IPAs, red ales, brown ales, imperial red ales, imperial brown ales, stouts, imperial stouts.... you get the idea! 

What are you most looking forward to tapping during GBW?

EH: There's no one beer that stands out for me out of the 35 as I think the balance of styles and quality of each beer stands up, but I am curious to try Artisan's Belgian style beers as I have never had them before and I have heard good things.

We've also got our annual 10 tap combat event on May 16, which will see Feral and Colonial brewers go head to head by showcasing their beers but more importantly taking the piss out of each other. We'll also be running some meet the brewer type events throughout the week, there'll be two-for-one tasting paddles from 12pm to 4pm each day and we're running a Feral Hop Hog happy hour from 4pm to 6pm each day with $7 pints.

PoO Bus door prize: $100 bar voucher

Crafty Cabalista GBW Special: $15 burger and a pot of Hop Hog – "our burgers are awesome!"


NEW ZEALAND – The Alehouse Project

It's fair to say The Alehouse Project has well and truly embraced Pint of Origin. Since taking on the NZ mantle, the Brunswick East bar has upped the stakes each year, running themed brewery or multi-brewery showcases each day of the week, and ripping through 100 or more kegs in a week. Owner Alex Summers makes regular trips across The Ditch to ensure there's a fair number of specials pouring too.

What has kept you coming back for PoO year after year?

AS: We love being a part of Pint of Origin every year; it allows us showcase one of the best beer regions in the world in New Zealand and all that the Land of the Long White Cloud has to offer with beery goodness.

What can people expect to see from you and NZ's brewers?

AS: As usual we are pushing the boundaries of what we can put through the taps. This year again we have another 100 different beers and counting over the taps throughout the nine days.

Any special guests dropping in?

AS: Each day will be a different brewery showcase as per our daily list, with their head brewers and representatives in attendance.

PoO Bus door prize: A Golden Ticket to Dark Side of Beer in July – one pot of every beer tapped!

Cabalista GBW Special: Burger & Bartender's Choice pot for $18 from midday to 10pm


TASMANIA – The Gertrude Hotel

The Gertrude Hotel in Fitzroy has become the Tasmanian brewers' home from home since taking on the state four years ago. With the beer scene there exploding in the past 18 months, look out for plenty of beers never seen on the mainland before.

What were you expecting when you first signed up for PoO all those years ago?

Owner Cassy Thompson: We didn’t know what to expect, the festival was still evolving so we had nothing to compare it to. 

Why do you keep coming back for more?

CT: We love the excitement of the event and catching up with all the brewers each year. The worst part is we are usually so busy we generally don’t get time to get out to the other events.

Any newcomers or special guests from the Apple Isle this year?

CT: So many! WinstonShamblesDouble HeadLast RitesHop TrialOchokick|snare, along with new releases brews from some old favourites.

PoO Bus door prize: $100 bar voucher

Crafty Cabalista GBW Special: $14 meal and pot


GEELONG & THE SOUTH WEST – The Geelong Hotel

The number of small breweries calling Geelong, the Surf Coast and Victoria's southwest home continues to rise. Keen to show off just how diverse the local scene is, they've come together for a one-day showcase at The Geelong Hotel on May 14. 

Why have you got involved with Pint of Origin for the first time? 

Southern Bay head brewer Phil Rutjens: I guess we're potentially a bit unique in that ours has been driven by local brewers rather than a venue. Having focused our GBW efforts on Melbourne for the past few years, we decided it was time to help grow craft beer in our own region. Discussions with other local brewers were positive and here we are.

What can people look forward to? 

PR: A snapshot of what's happening in Geelong and the South West. Eight breweries will be represented first time around and three years ago half of them either didn't exist or weren't based here in the case of Little Creatures / White Rabbit. 

It's about trying to create an awareness that there's a bunch of really passionate people, often just around the corner, doing great things.

What's the feeling in the craft beer community in your region? 

PR: I feel like there's a reluctance from a great deal of licensed venues (there are exceptions) to recognise what's happening in the wider beer world. This despite the crowds that flock to the Great Australian Beer Festival each February and fill the Creatures canteen consistently. There's no doubt in my mind that the market for better beer exists in this region and hopefully this event will go some way to demonstrating that to those still yet to be convinced.

NB This was supposed to be a weeklong showcase at another venue but its owners sold out and the new ones took on a big brewery contract, as if proving Phil's point...


Look out for part two of our Pint of Origin 2016 preview in the coming days.

NB There is limited space on each Pint of Origin bus but we can upgrade to a bigger bus with enough notice. If you are planning on climbing aboard as a group, please email crafty@craftypint.com ASAP to let us know.

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