In 2011 the premise behind Good Beer Week could be summed up in three words – its name.
It was to be all about the brews.
Melbourne was only just emerging as the national mecca for Australian handcrafted brews. Sure, Mountain Goat had been around for more than a dozen years but there was still a feeling that quality beers were confined to arthouse establishments in laneways and warehouses around the city. And Victoria had pioneered the small bar movement whose proprietors were willing to give small brew producers the chance to showcase their wares. The idea was to highlight the trend.
Fast forward to this year. Good Beer Week has not only become Australia’s premier beer convention, it has international standing.
To reach such a level of admiration requires growth. There is no doubt Good Beer Week has spread its wings like an albatross and covers so much more than just the sea of wonder nectar.
Education is high on the GBW agenda. Soo, too, is food. Indeed, the 10-day extravaganza features as much solid as liquid. Just take a look at this year’s offerings. From a Bentspoke Degustation, the Hitachino Dumpling Dinner, Around The World With Beer And Cheese to BBQ And Brews, Good Beer Gelataria and even the Hops Scotch and Grain, the festival is dotted with culinary delights.
To pinch a line from Seinfeld, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
But to this old salt, the journey across the Nullabor is all about chasing great brews. This isn’t a beer show about nothing.
To that end there is one series within the series that will provide the backbone of visit number six to John Batman’s modern Gotham City. And there is no entry charge. You’ll just have to pay for your beers and there is definitely nothing wrong with that.
The GBW Pint of Origin has also grown. Under the guidance of The Crafty Pint the initial plan was to provide a home for each State to showcase the wares within its borders. Now the journey around the Melbourne venues incorporates a visit to other shores.
However, with 16 venues now giving a base for a regional brew extravaganza there is no better way to stretch the beer taste buds.
As a fourth generation Sandgroper a visit to The Royston Hotel in Richmond was almost a rite of passage during the first trip to Good Beer Week. The quaint pub down the narrow street is like nothing we know on the west coast. Yet it has been a great supporter of WA product. Wednesday night’s GBW POO session is normally dominated by personnel from this side of the Brown Land.
Filling in the other days following the POO schedule now allows incursions into Queensland, Tasmania, the United States, Asia and Scandanavia with stop-overs in Ireland and Scotland on the way home – all without boarding a plane.
That means trying a Balter before imbibing a Beavertown the day after adoring a Mikkeller or a Great Leap Forward on your way to sampling Garage Project and thinking about having a Wheatsheaf special later in the week.
If only you got frequent flyer points from the destinations.
Now wonder the slogan for the Pint of Origin is “Where brewers, beers, bars & beer lovers become one!”
And this one is ready for the next odyssey.
THE POO MAP
Sydney – Rainbow Hotel
England, Scotland, Wales – Freddie Wimpoles
Ireland – The Fifth Province
Regional Victoria – Cherry Tree Hotel
Canada – Mr West
USA – Carwyn Cellars
Tasmania – The Lincoln Hotel
New Zealand – Foresters Pub and Dining
Western Australia – The Royston Hotel
Scandinavia – Beermash
Melbourne – Terminus Hotel
New South Wales/ACT – The Windsor Alehouse
Continental Europe – Beer Deluxe Hawthorn
South Australia – The Palace Hotel
Queensland – The Fitzroy Pinnacle
Asia – Captain Melville