Keeping track of the sheer number of breweries in Australia is tough enough work, so how would you go trying to visit all of them? One person is on a mission to find out.
Chelsea Bright thinks it will take her two years to visit them all, with the 28-year-old setting herself the goal of making it to every Aussie brewery in time for Good Beer Week 2023 – while studying and working for Stone & Wood at the same time.
Chelsea says her decision to try and make it to each brewery is driven by her love for beer and meeting brewers, but also an underlying attitude to life. If you've followed Keeping Local Alive's Beer Swag Day over the past two years, that shouldn't be a surprise given the way she embraced the event, ultimately winning the grand prize this year after claiming the Victorian state winner's spot in 2020.
“I have a whole 'Go hard or go home attitude'; you only have one life,” Chelsea says.
“I just really love going out and meeting people, and after a year of being locked up due to COVID, I just want to meet a bunch of people – and I love visiting breweries.”
With the number of breweries in Australia in the many hundreds – and with new ones opening regularly – she's set a few rules about how she'll make it to each of them. And not necessarily to make the challenge any easier.
“I’m starting from scratch so anything that I’ve previously visited doesn’t count,” she says.
“I think I’m going to have to cap new breweries because 200 could open over the next two years.”
Aside from that, she hopes to make it to every brewery open to the public as well as trying to talk her way into those production breweries that aren't. Fortunately, as a brewer at Stone & Wood, Chelsea does have one ticked off her list while her home on the Gold Coast means she’s in close enough proximity to visit many in South East Queensland without driving too far or booking flights.
“I still have a few things to do to my car to make it camp worthy so, for now, I’ll just be doing some of the local Gold Coast ones,” she says.
Working a four-day-on, four-day-off roster means she has longer weekends than most, with the plan being to gradually extend her trips further and further. The hope, of course, is that border closures are now a thing of the past, and that she'll get to spend the time crashing with mates and planning trips with others.
“On my days off I’ll just venture as far as I can in my car and camp,” Chelsea says. “Then I’ll just fly where possible and go hard. I don’t have a set plan to begin with; I’m just going to hit as many as I can and then start to narrow it down.
“When I first started looking to do this, I was worried I was going to disconnect from my real life friends. But I’ve lived in so many places across Australia that I can visit my mates who are spread out and people have already said things like, ‘I’ve always wanted to go to Darwin, let's go together.'."
Chelsea plans to document her journey on Instagram, YouTube and a blog she’s set up for the adventure and, beyond meeting new people, discovering breweries and beers, and encouraging others to visit local breweries, she hopes to shine a light on the importance of connecting with people following a year of on-again, off-again social distancing.
“If it gets traction then I’d like to also raise attention for mental health and checking in on your mates and asking them out for a beer, which we may have forgotten to do after this whole pandemic.”
Having previously worked for Little Creatures and Barrett Burston Malting, Chelsea says she loves the way beer on social media lets passionate beer fans and people in the industry connect. That love for connecting and making new friends, plus her self-described go hard or go home attitude, is why Chelsea says she put so much effort into Beer Swag Day both this year and last.
“I like how it really bridges the gap between the brewers and the public, there are so many really good beer influencers and enthusiasts out there that don’t necessarily want to become brewers, but we can get to know the fans.”
As for the journey ahead, Chelsea hopes there could be a way to get her travels into the Guinness World Records, although she does know of other ambitious and wide-reaching journeys overseas.
“In America, there was an old couple who did more than 900 but that was over 12 years,” she says.
They were retired too, but as Chelsea says, there’s only one real problem she’s likely to face.
“The only way I could really fail is if I stop having fun.”