I first met Kate Paterson when she was running one of the earlier Victorian Microbreweries Showcases at Fed Square in Melbourne. I had booked a stall for The Crafty Pint, then just a few months old, and was rushing around trying to source a screen for my MacBook, having turned up ill prepared; looking back it feels like an apt omen for what was to follow: Kate trying to bring organisation and direction to my ideas (or shooting them down and suggesting alternatives...).
It was around the same time I first met Siobhan Kerin, when she was steering the ship at Beer DeLuxe's Fed Square home. There she'd regularly see shifts through to the end of the night (well, closer to dawn) then be back at the helm mere hours later, rallying staff for another huge day ahead. Not long after, she helped us celebrate The Crafty Pint's first birthday by setting up the first (and last) sit down dinner – complete with beer trivia on the giant overhead screen – in the Atrium.
We've since lived through some crazy times at Good Beer Week. I asked Kate to join the tiny team of naïve fools embarking on what would become the first festival back in May 2011 weeks before it launched, hoping she'd bring the fire and no-nonsense drive it needed to get over the line; Shev was the unanimous choice of the board when we were after another person with the indefinable set of wide-ranging skills needed to pull off such an event, chief among them an ability to magic rabbits from hats and function on next to no sleep.
They've been key players in the country's biggest beer week and its associated activities ever since. Kate was general manager (and main after-after party host) for years, while Shev has been leading the way for the past few years. During this time the festival has merged with the Independent Brewers Association (IBA) and the duo – following a period in which Kate, among other things, helped run Beervana in Wellington – were reunited as part of the association's core team.
You'd struggle to find two people who embody the dictionary definition of "work hard, play hard" better, or two people who care as much about the local beer industry and the wider community in which it exists.
Outside the Good Beer Week bubble, they've variously worked in events, venues and the awards space – both The Indies and the Australian International Beer Awards – but, without fanfare, have also been as likely to pop up to lend a hand wherever and whenever it's needed.
Good Beer Week wouldn't look like it does today without Kate and Shev's influence; it follows that the wider Melbourne beer scene wouldn't hold the respect it does nationally and internationally without their efforts either.
They're two of the best people with whom to spend a night (although factor in at least a day's recovery) and, from a personal perspective, the two who've put me in my place more than anyone outside my family; the "Don't let Crafty put on any events without someone who understands budgets attached to him" poster affixed to the wall after an early Good Beer Week would be among the more polite admonishments...
So, as they prepare for Good Beer Week number ten and get ready to help guide the IBA into a new decade, we welcome them into our Advent Calendar.
Kate Paterson & Shev Kerin
What's been your highlight of the past decade?
The overall growth of good beer over the last ten years has been the biggest highlight.
Thinking back to 2011 when we sat at Beer DeLuxe scheming ideas for the first Good Beer Week, we never dreamed we could merge with a national body (the Independent Brewers Association) and use our experience to help grow independent beer in Australia.
What's surprised you the most about the Aussie beer scene?
How fast the trends have shifted. For example, hazy IPAs have only been around in the second half of our ten years, and you can find them all over the country, and in some mainstream bars and bottleshops. Breweries have shown they are quick to adapt to what customers want, and drinkers are lapping it up as fast as they can.
Also, how much collaboration and innovation still excites everyone. After ten years you’d think people would start getting cut throat and competitive in business, but for the most part we are all still pals.
What are your thoughts on the health of the beer industry as we approach the end of a remarkable decade?
We are all so old now, but somehow most of the people that were around back in 2010 are still here, and still excited and enthusiastic about the state of the industry. Friends and colleagues are out there running breweries, businesses, and festivals.
Then there’s all the new people that have arrived in the industry from all sorts of backgrounds, strengthening the base of good beer. It’s hard to know where the growth will stop, but for now it feels like things are in a great place.
What's your number one goal for the coming decade?
Continuing to kick ass in the industry.
And Shev just wants a nap.
And, if you had one Christmas wish for beer in Australia, what would it be?
Some deliveries of slabs for our Christmas party. JC [chair Jamie Cook] runs a tight ship!
(We are serious. Please post before the 18th of December, deliveries to the IBA ℅ of Beermash!)
We're opening a door on Crafty's Advent Calendar every morning up until Christmas Day and you'll be able to find them all here.