MELBOURNE | Although some would claim (correctly) that every week is good beer week, the official Good Beer Week 2016 is now rapidly approaching and will run from Friday 13 May to Sunday 22 May. Having started in 2011, the happiest week of the year has grown by over 500 percent and this year’s edition offers over 270 events.
With this many events on offer it can be hard to choose where spend both your monetary and time budget, so we have done the hard work for you and have identified our picks of this year’s festival program. We have split our preview into two sections, one covering the ticketed events and one for the free events – to the east of our knowledge tickets for all of the ticketed events below are still available but if you are interested get in quick as a number are selling fast!
GABS 2016 – Beer | Cider | Food Fest
A mainstay of the Good Beer Week program, GABS is the headline event of the week and has been aimed one of the two 20 beer festivals in the world. Held at the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Carlton, GABS is the ultimate beer tasting event, with 120 that have been brewed exclusively for GABS and many others from the standard and seasonal ranges of the breweries in attendance.
This year will also be the first year where GABS dispenses with the old token system and moves into the 21st century with the GABS Currency Card which is the only means for making purchases inside the venue – a $20.00 currency card can be pre purchased with your ticket to save time and excess currency can be refunded at the end of the event.
As you can tell from the rebranding of the event food will again be an important part of GABS and will be provided by well known local restaurants such as Huxtable, Milk The Cow and Meat Mother. For those unable to get to the event in Melbourne there will also be events in Sydney and (for the first time) Auckland.
When: Friday 20 and Saturday 21 May 2015, 12:00pm to 5:00pm; 6:30pm to 11:30pm; Sun 22 May 2015, 12:00pm to 5:00pm
Entry: Presale – $36.00 entry only/$56.00 with a $20.00 currency card; At the door – $42.00 entry only/$63.00 with a $20.00 currency card
Where: Royal Exhibition Building, 9 Nicholson Street Carlton
Vic vs The World Showdown
Following on from the huge success of last year’s event, one of our favourite craft beer venues, Terminus Hotel, will again be hosting a showdown between the best of Victoria’s (and therefore Australia’s – cue hisses and boos from the other states) craft breweries against the cream of the crop from the rest of the world.
At this event you will drink four Victorian beers and four beers from the Rest of The World and vote on which are better in a knockout style competition until only one beer is left standing. I attended this event last year and had an amazing night – if the format is the same there will also be a number of ‘bonus’ beers poured which means this event is also great value for money. Some food will be served but be sure to order something filling from the Terminus’ excellent menu to make sure you last to the end of the night.
When: Tuesday 17 May 2015, 7:00pm
Where: The Terminus Hotel, 492 Queens Parade Fitzroy North
Le Bon Ton has for some time been one of our favourite late night (or any time really) eating places in Melbourne’s inner north, and sours are one of our favored beer styles at present. We were therefore very excited to hear that Le Bon Ton would be teaming up with Brooklyn Brewery this year to host an event that combines smoked meats with sour beers.
At this event you will enjoy three course dinner of smokehouse meats, paired with four Brooklyn beers, including a limited release beer from their Quarterly Experiment series and one from their “Ghost Bottle” program. In attendance will be Andrew Bombard who is the head of Brooklyn’s QA laboratory and expert on sour beers. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy a custom-designed menu and some very rare beers!
When: Monday 16 May 2015, 7:00pm
Where: Le Bon Ton, 51 Gipps Street Collingwood
Crafty’s Pint of Origin Bus Tour
One of the difficulties presented by the scale of Good Beer Week is fitting in as many events as possible into the available time (a good problem to have), and the Pint of Origin series is one of the standouts of the program with 12 of Melbourne’s premier craft beer venues offering an amazing range of beers from around the country and the rest of the world.
Normally one would have to allocate almost the entire week in order to get to all 12 Pint of Origin events. However, Ben’s Brew Tours (who we were lucky enough to do a tour with last year) have stepped up to the plate and are offering two special brew tours on the two Saturdays in GBW. On Saturday the 14th the focus will be on the venues to the south and east of the city, whereas on the 21st the action will take place in the inner north.
For the price of your ticket you will be transported to six of the Pint of Origin venues, drink four specially selected beers at each and also be provided with lunch and a commemorative glass. A day spent on the Ben’s Brew Tours bus is always a great time so we highly recommend that you get on the bus.
When: Saturday 14 and Saturday 21 May 2016, 11:30am to 7:00pm
Where: Part I on 14 May departs from Beer DeLuxe, Federation Square; Part II on 21 May departs from Forester’s Hall, 64 Smith St, Collingwood
Pint of Origin: New Zealand
With over 100 different beers being poured on 12 taps plus a hand pump over the week, The Alehouse has one again arranged the most ambitious and extensive Pint of Origin event for this year’s GBW. Each day will feature a different brewery from across the Tasman and the opportunity to meet there were every night.
Where: The Alehouse Project, 98-100 Lygon Street Brunswick East
USA Showdown! East Coast vs West Coast
It could just be that I have travelled (and consumed beer) extensively on both the east and west coasts of the US in the last month but our friends on the other side of the Pacific produce some of the best craft beers in the world.
Interestingly one of the benefits that we have in Australia that folks in the US do not have is the opportunity to sample beers from all over the country. Due to the huge number of breweries in the country, bars in a particular state tend to only pour beers from their home state and often don’t even have beers from adjacent states.
It is therefore only right that someone pits the best of both sides of the US against each other and The Park Hotel has taken up the challenge. For the duration of GBW they will be offering head to head tasting paddles comparing similar and opposing styles from both sides of the country, with the ability to vote and win prizes.
If the beers on offer aren’t enough incentive to ‘go west’, then there is always the ever-epic the mac and cheese burger – I will be heading over for both.
Where: The Park Hotel, 12 Watton Street Werribee
The Pirate Party
Pirate Life Brewing were one of the standout newcomers to the craft beer scene in 2015, taking out #3 and #4 on the Hottest 100 craft beer countdown with their now benchmark Pale Ale and IIPA.
This year the Junction Beer Hall and Wine Room in Melbourne’s inner west, will be following last year’s Wild West event with a Pirate Party featuring Pirate Life beer and pirate-themed foods (as well as a pig on a spit). There will also be games with prizes to be won – yarr!
When: Saturday 14 May 2016
Where: Junction Beer Hall and Wine Room, 15 Hall Street, Newport
Uke Mochi Eats a BBQ, Drinks Baird Brewery
Japan, and Tokyo in particular, has a strong and deep craft beer scene (see our guide here). At this event you will have the opportunity to drink limited edition beers by a mainstay of the Japanese craft beer industry Baird Beer, which will each be matched with a piece of specially chosen charcoal Japanese BBQ meat.
When: Thursday 19 May 2016, 3:00pm to late
Where: Dr Morse, 224 Johnston St, Abbotsford