September 14th, 2011 by Crafty Pint
For the past couple of years, one of the most enjoyable – and eye-catching – events surrounding the Australian International Beer Awards in Melbourne has been the Hair of the Dog Breakfast. Run by the guys behind BeerMen TV (above), it does exactly what is says on the tin: offer breakfast with beers the morning after the awards. Having debuted in 2010, it was the first event to sell out during this year’s Good Beer Week. And now the Beermen are setting their organisational sights even higher by holding an entire week of events across Sydney.
The city’s inaugural Craft Beer Week will take place between October 22 and 29 and features everything from a Medieval Feast complete with fancy dress to tastings, comedy, degustations and live hookups with international guests.
“There was an element of inspiration from seeing what happened in Melbourne, where we had done the breakfast for a couple of years and seen the buzz and could see how organising a bunch of events helps spread the word to people outside the craft beer circuit,” says Beerman Todd Venning. “There was no one else doing anything up here so we thought we should. We spoke to people that we’ve featured in past episodes [of our online beer show] and they were excited because they’d seen what had happened elsewhere.
“The state that I live in is sadly lagging behind when it comes to craft beer so I’m taking a stand!”
The BeerMen, who are now a whopping 66 episodes into their online beer show, have brought many of the city’s microbreweries, bottleshops and bars on board, including Harts Pub, The Local Taphouse Darlo, Beer Cartel, Yulli’s, the Lord Nelson, Shady Pines and 4 Pines. And the aim, above all else, is to attract a new audience to craft beer where, slowly but surely, it is beginning to get a small foothold in a market dominated like few others in Australia by the major brewers.
“We’re looking to have variety so it’s not just a series of dinners and pairings,” says Todd. “There’s a bit of fun in there: some comedy gigs, the Medieval Feast where we can play dress up. Part of the fun is trying to design events that people who don’t know anything about craft beer will like.”
He’s worked closely with fellow BeerMan Mark David, who has years of experience running events and managing comedians under his belt, and Scotty Morgan, the brewer at Rocks Brewing Company, which is part of the same business as Harts Pub. Having secured enough events to fill the week, they created a website and remain open for more events.
“At first when I spoke to some of the venues I’d never met before they wanted to know what I was getting out of it,” says Todd. “When they saw that we were doing it just for the love and spread the word then the barriers were gone. Now that the site’s up, if a venue is happy to put on an event and gets in touch within a reasonable time then we’ll take listings on board.”
Anyone hoping for a return of the Hair of the Dog Breakfast will have to wait as the intended venue, Murray’s at Manly, has just closed for a few weeks for renovations. Instead, the BeerMen are helping kick off events with their Medieval Feast at Harts Pub on the first Saturday. The week closes with the 7th Australian Hotel Beer Festival, while in between times there will be all manner of events including the return of the Brewers and Chewers dinner concept that was a success at The Local Taphouse in St Kilda during Good Beer Week, an appearance via Skype by Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver, trivia, a collaborative brew and more.
“There’s a bit of everything: putting events on for beer nerds is cool, but at a lot of them the message and style is targeting the average punter and assuming no prior knowledge.”
Having been heavily involved in Good Beer Week in Melbourne and seen not only how much fun celebrating craft beer can be – and the positive impact it can have in promoting the industry and new venues to a wider audience – we wish them the best of luck. All being well, we’ll be there to enjoy it too.
To find out more, visit the Sydney Craft Beer Week website or follow it on Twitter for updates.
(Photo at top shows the BeerMen hosting their last Hair of the Dog Breakfast at Beer DeLuxe)