How a Beer Festival Turned a Non-Beer Drinker’s Tastebuds

Great Australian Beer Festival has proven a hit in Geelong and returns to Albury in October.

As the Great Australian Beer Festival returns for its second year on 1 December, KYLIE KING reflects on last year’s event – where she even sampled beer flavoured ice cream!

When creative people band together to create a new event in our region we’re the sort of community that likes to get behind it.

The fact that one particular event, which launched last year, was focussed on beer may have had something to do with its instant popularity.  After all, who doesn’t enjoy a refreshing ale? Well, confession time, me.

Balter Brewing Co.

I’ve never particularly enjoyed beer, but must admit until the Great Australian Beer Festival, I’d never actually tried craft beer. I was keen to support this new event, so thought I’d immerse myself in it anyway, starting out by attending a Beer Degustation night at The Goods Shed Wodonga on the Friday night.

It was an intriguing combination of beer, cider and fine dining. A delicious menu of gazpacho, kingfish ceviche, pork belly parcels and lamb rack was matched with six different varieties of craft beer and cider. I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed the beer/cider/food matching (there wasn’t a glass of white or red wine in sight).

The biggest flavour combination I had to get my head around was a beer flavoured dessert prepared by Monumental Ice Cream using Hawkers Stout. Again, I was really surprised and found it different, but delicious and not overpowering.

Hawkers stout ice cream, chocolate & Nutella parfait, honeycomb and berries matched with Bright Brewery Staircase Porter & Hawkers Stout.

As the event host, Pete Mitcham (aka Professor Pilsner) said, “We’ve broken down those barriers of having red wine with red meat and white wine with fish – we’ve learnt for example how a crisp, clean, thirst quenching pilsner with a sourdough bread or gazpacho just jumps in the mouth.”

This then set me up for the main Festival day itself. As this publication was in its infancy, I thought it would be a great opportunity to partner with the event, and host some corporate guests and some of our founding supporters in a Pagoda – using it as a base for guests to come and go during the Festival.

Although it rained, and many stall holders and pagodas were moved to the Albury Entertainment Centre, the Festival atmosphere was wonderful, with terrific live bands, roving entertainment and master classes.

It was also quite fun to sample different varieties of craft beer and cider. Rather than having a full glass of something that doesn’t quite grab you, it was great to have a little sample here and there and get a real feel for the styles of beer and cider that appealed to me. (There were also a few stall holders that had wine, as a back-up plan!)

Photo credit: Great Australian Beer Festival, (Geelong)

Turns out, I’m rather partial to a few different lighter styles of craft beer and I’m keen to sample some new releases this year, such as Bridge Road Brewers Beechy Summer Ale, and check out the offering from the new Albury Brewhouse. (There’s a host of local breweries participating again this year).

Great Australian Beer Festival 2018 launch. Photo: TruPics

The vision of the organisers is for the Great Australian Beer Festival to become an annual major event that promotes quality hand-crafted beers, and position beer more favourably in the minds of drinkers. I think they’re’ well on the way to achieving that. Cheers!

For the full program of what’s in store at the Great Australian Beer Festival, 1 December and to book tickets: click here

Produced by Border Cafe in partnership with the Great Australian Beer Festival.