The Victorian Microbreweries Showcase provides an opportunity for microbreweries from all over Victoria to showcase their beers to the public, as well as get noticed by publicans and restaurateurs who might be interested in stocking their product. It’s a bi-annual event, and is held in the Atrium at Melbourne’s Federation Square.
There were a range of microbreweries exhibiting this year, ranging from the large and popular ones such as Matilda Bay Brewery and White Rabbit down to newcomers sampling their best single beer. I tried to avoid the big boys, whose beers I had already tried, and spent the evening seeking out beers that were new to me.
In total, there were over 120 beers and ciders were on offer in this edition of the Victorian Microbreweries Showcase in March 2013, with the next one being in October 2013.
Spanning 2 evenings, the event gets very busy.
I really enjoyed the Dark Smoke Beer from The 3 Ravens Brewing Company based out of Thornbury. I’ve tried other smoked beers where the smokiness just doesn’t work, however in the 3 Raven’s Dark Smoke Beer, the smokiness is very prominent, but not overpowering – the balance is just right.
The English Ale is a decent drop too, but don’t expect something that resembles an English “real ale” – it doesn’t.
Bridge Road Brewers from Beechworth had a variety of beers on offer. I’ve had their beers before and am a big fan. I was very interested in trying the Waldo Berry Saison which is a collaboration with Edge Brewing Corporation but unfortunately there was none left by the time I got to their stand. I’m a big fan of Saisons in general, and am especially a fan of berry when used in beer correctly so have high expectations for this one when I do get around to trying it.
It wasn’t only beers that were being exhibited this year – there was quite a decent range of craft ciders on offer this year too. I am a fan of cider, but today I stuck to beer.
I was a big fan of the beers from Bright Brewery, based out of St Bright. The highlight for me was the Pinky Framboise – it’s rare to get a good one that’s not from Belgium, with many brewers going overboard on the sweetness.
Savarain Brewery from Sale just had one beer on show, their Brown Ale. Savarain is a small brewery with Owner/Brewer Martin Treasure also taking care of all exhibiting duties at his stand. It was a great brown ale, and I look forward to trying some more of their beers down the line.
The newest brewer at the Showcase as far as I could tell was South Morang’s Sideshow Brewers. Established in 2012, they had one beer, their “Ticket Booth Pale Ale” on offer. It was a very good Pale Ale. Their second beer, a “Chocolate Milk Porter” will be coming out in May 2013 and I’m really looking forward to trying it.
Holgate Brewhouse is based in Wood End and have a reputation for creating some really great beers. I went to the brewhouse itself a few months ago, trying all of the beers on offer on a tasting paddle and came away very impressed with the entire range.
Forrest Brewing Company, from Forrest, was one of my favourite breweries of the night – so much so that I tried all of the beers that they had on offer. My favourite was the Silvertop, which was a very light and drinkable ale with hints of vanilla and apricot. The other highlight from Forest was the Pobblebonk, a special Autumn release Saison. It was everything a Saison should be and tasted great.
I’ve not been down to that part of Victoria (near Apollo Bay) before and am really keen to check out the brewery and sample the food too which looks to be quite good – it’s all fresh and locally sourced.
Bellarine’s Bellarine Brewing Co, which is also home to a winery, had a good selection of beers on offer. The Mussel Stout was a standout, but even more impressive was their Two Wives Ginja Beer. Alcoholic ginger beer is something that so many get so wrong, but Bellarine have got it just right.
Moon Dog Brewing from Abbotsford are known for creating some very interesting beers and wacky flavour combinations. They have the branding and image to match their beers. I’ve had a few of their beers over the past year, which at times can be hit and miss. This is not a bad thing though. I’d rather they try new things and get it right most of the time rather than just doing what everyone else does.
I really wanted to try the Mr Mistoffeless (Passion Fruit and Mango Wild Ale), but it had all gone by the time I reached the Moon Dog stall. I did, however, get to try the Lando Kardashian (Tripel IPA) and the Henry Ford’s Girthsome Fjord (Bulgo-American Indian Brown Ale). Both were great, with the Lando Kardashian being very dangerous in that it’s surprisingly easy to drink for something that’s 11.5% ABV!
Temple Brewing Company is based in Brunswick East, and have become very popular around Melbourne over the past year. They have had some really great limited edition beers recently, including the “Temple Scarlet Sour” which was a beer brewed with hibiscus and cranberry.
As far as their regular range goes, all of the beers are quite good, but I think the Saison is a standout.
Although not on offer here, probably their best beer is the Unifikator, which is a collaboration between Temple Brewery and Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan, which is the oldest brewery in the world and know a thing or two about good beer. It’s a Weizenbock with banana and malty chocolate undertones that tastes very nice.
Southern Bay Brewing Co is based in Moolap and have a very diverse range of beers. The Hop Bazooka IPA is very tasty, and manages to step up the hop level without getting the bitterness too extreme, which can often happen with very hoppy beers. Of note is that an even hoppier beer is currently in the works from the guys, and is expected to be released within the coming months.
The Metal Head Porter was quite good too – not the best porter I’ve had, but certainly a beer worth drinking if you see it.
Other breweries exhibiting at the Victorian Microbreweries Showcase whose beers I sampled but didn’t manage to get photos of were:
- Black Heart Brewery (I really liked their Belgian blond ale)
- Boneyard Brewery (who had very interesting Grapefruit IPA on offer – I got a very detailed and interesting explanation of how the flavours are extracted from the grapefruit and added to the beer in a way that avoids the acidity that comes with grapefruit)
- Cavalier Beer (all of their beers were excellent, espcially the Courage
- Prickly Moses – Otway Estate (the Chainsaw, an Austrian style wheat beer was the highlight)
- Buckleys Beer (the Lemongrass Pale Ale was the most unique of what they had on offer)
- Harcourt Valley Brewing Co (I really liked their ginger beer “The Ginger Kid” – another example of alcoholic ginger beer being done right)
Breweries who I didn’t sample any beers from, due to the fact that I’d tried everything that they had to offer before, or just didn’t get around to them included:
- Coldstream Brewery
- Grand Ridge Brewery
- Hawthorn Brewing
- Matilda Bay Brewing Company
- Mildura Brewery (their Choc Hops chocolate stout is a brilliant beer)
- Mornington Peninsula Brewery
- Mountain Goat Brewery
- Red Island Brewing Co
- White Rabbit Brewery
At $25 for entry and 20 tokens, Victoria’s Microbreweries Showcase represents a great value way to try a variety of local beers. What I especially like about the event is that not only do you get to try a lot of new beers, but you also get a chance to talk to the brewers and owners themselves, and get to learn a lot about what they do and what they are all about.
Beer is becoming more and more interesting as the years roll by. Ever since the craft beer scene kicked off, the styles of beer being brewed, and flavour combinations being explored are only increasing. A lot of research is going on into discovering how to brew great beer, and it is becoming as highly regarded as wine for the complexity, flavours and variety that it can offer (in fact, several wineries are also setting up microbreweries).
It’s great that an event like the Victorian Microbreweries Showcase is bringing this to a wider audience, and if you haven’t yet been, you should definitely try and make it to the next one (October 2013 as of the time of writing this).