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Brisbane Festival of Beers

Brisbane Festival of Beers
Festivals September 26, 2002      
Written by winkle

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA -

<P>The annual "Festival of Beers" in Brisbane has become a teenager and is now thirteen. To commemorate this auspicious occasion the festival has moved from the atmospheric yet crowded Storey Bridge Hotel and surrounds, to the more centrally located RNA showgrounds. At least there is plenty of room for future expansion and no more complaints for yuppie apartment dwellers to lodge.</P>
<P>The festival exists as a showcase for Aussie beers and gives the microbreweries and brewpubs a chance to display their wares to the public alongside the macro boys. A large percentage of the punters are visiting simply to sample these difficult-to-obtain brews from across the country without having to do all that tedious travelling from pub to pub, town to town and state to state.</P>
<P>This year there were over 150 different beers available from around 37 different breweries. After discounting all the beers I had rated already there were still around a hundred left to try. Admittedly about twenty of them I vaguely remember trying last year but the details escape me (it was getting dark, the bands were loud, my dog ate my notes, etc.) so nothing for it but to rate them again. Most of the other beers will require entry as new beers to the Ratebeer database.</P>
<P>The weather this time of year in Brisbane is great for this sort of thing, warm sunny days, cool nights, reasonably rain free. The Friday night is usually the least crowded and not a bad time to check out the various displays and beers on offer. This year saw the introduction of "The Brewers Showcase", an area where you could wander around displays, giveaways and tastings from various breweries, usually with the brewmaster in attendance. As well as the big brewers, some of the micros represented included St Arnou,
Sunshine Coast, Burke, Southern Cross, Malt Shovel and Masthead. </P>
<P>After doing a few tastings I met up with the brewmaster from Masthead who was a nice bloke who was at least drinking his own product. Then had an interesting conversation with the head Carlton rep on microbreweries affiliating with macros for distribution deals, and how everyone likes to kick the big brewers (including me).</P>
<P>There were numerous bar stands dotted around the site along with some merchandising, food stalls, a cooper making casks and several sound stages. The chief brewer from Lion Nathan, Bill Taylor, attempted to teach the public how to conduct a beer tasting with regular demonstrations through out the
festival. Probably the most interesting beer of the day as an offering from the Wig & Pen Tavern Brewery in Canberra called Wobbly Boot Smokey Hefeweizen. A style that I was not familiar with, but had an interesting beef jerky flavour and almost chewy mouthfeel. </P>
<P>I gathered together a band of fellow beer enthusiasts and descended on the RNA showgrounds, for the second day (Saturday) of the three-day festival, at high noon. We decided to leave the local brewpub beers to last as we could always revisit them later and move straight on to the wit, weizen and weiss styles from further afield. Many breweries tried for a Hogaarden White clone but most failed to get the balance right. From there it was on to the pilseners and lagers, including a Blonde by St. Peters Brewery, which is a bloke
and his microbrewery that would fit into a ute (or so I told) - not bad anyway. By the time we got to the dark ales the crowds were building and night had fallen. A few more stouts and the crowd had built to a level were getting served was a problem, and lets face it, we’d had enough. It was time for home and
to face the next day's hangover.</P>
<P>Overall the move to a new venue was a success. There were a few teething problems - the brewery reps seemed justly upset with the competition judging (including brain-dead DJs on the judging panel is not good enough); there was an over supply of the XXXX-Carlton-Coopers macro beers and not enough
of the smaller brewery offerings; not enough male toilets; beer in plastic cups at one bar area (bloody heresy); audio pollution from the previously mentioned DJs - but it was still a good show. This is the only festival of this kind I know of in Australia, excepting Octoberfests, and should only get better. Educating the public that all beers don’t have to be pale, gold, watery, tasteless lagers will be a long process in this country but this is a welcome start. Oh, and it is a good piss-up too, so see you next year.</P>



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