Get to know your beer by attending beer school. Photo: Wayne Taylor.
By Peter Barrett
With a whopping 270 events to choose from, plenty of fun is brewing for this year’s sixth annual Melbourne Good Beer Week. Don’t be caught flat with our list here, of 20 awesome things to do. Cheers!
1. Back to beer school
Don’t know your amber ales from your IPAs? Like beer but don’t know what’s in it? Time to hit the books with an hour-long educational session led by professional beer people. Or, if you’re already a bona fide brewer, maybe a masterclass will lift your game.
All things beer are covered in Good Beer Weelk 2016.
Beer School, May 16-19, free
GBW Presents: Barrel Barons Masterclass, May 15, $240
2. Beer as spectacle
Expecting a crowd of up to 20,000 thirsty punters this year, GABS (the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular) is by far the biggest event in the calendar. Sample from more than 450 drops, including 120 beer and cider brews made especially for the event. Highlights include freshly minted gold-medal winners from the Australian International Beer Awards and the GABS Feral Barrel Experiment, which ages Feral Brewing Company beer in barrels previously containing wine, sherry, whisky, bourbon and tequila.
GABS, May 20-22, from $36
3. Make your own
Anyone who has ever dabbled in the dark arts of homebrew knows that success is a fickle master with a penchant for producing undrinkable slop that tastes like armpits. Get it right by listening to people who actually know what they’re doing at a homebrew workshop.From Home Brewer to Pro Brewer, May 16, $55
Streetside Brew with Merri Mashers, May 14, free
4. Strange brew
Beer made from rhubarb vinegar and pine needles? Check. Ales best consumed with haggis brewed with swedes, potatoes, salt and pepper? Och aye, the noo! The weird beers are here, people.
Ales of the Ages with Ben and Scott, May 18, $20
Back to the Moon, May 14, $120
5. Beer as food
If you’re a true aficionado, drinking beer in its liquid form is simply not enough. Thankfully, these people make sausages with it.
The Cavalier and Prosciutto Brothers Salami Slam and Beer Extravaganza, May 18, free entry
6. Art and style
Ok, so “beer,” “catwalk” and “internationally recognised artist” rarely appear in the same sentence. So look out for a fashion show inspired by Moo Brew, whose labels feature the work of Australian artist John Kelly and a charity art auction of supercool can art.
Moo Brew and the Beer Diva Do Fashion, May 18, $65
Beavertown Can Art Auction, May 14-22, free entry
7. Competitive spirit
If “Beer Sports” were an official event we’d clean up in Rio. Choose from scavenger hunts, board games, poker, “pub sports” (darts, hookey, pong, golf) and, prince of them all, trivia. All involve beer.
GBW Scavenger Hunt, May 19, $20
Kaiju! Beer and Boardgames, May 15, $49.99
8 Wired Poker Tournament, May 18, $35
Pub Sports: Marquis of Lorne x Rochester Hotel Throwdown, May 22, $40
Beer & Brains = Trivia @ The Dan, May 18, free entry
8. Game on
Play a dozen pinball machines all night or pit your best thumbs against the rest in a Mario Kart video game tournament.
Tinnies & Pinnies, May 16-20, free entry, May 21-22, $50
Little Creatures Barcade, May 18, $35
Arcade Lock-In Sessions, May 15-19, $35
9. Cocktails and dreams
Apparently, one day you’ll feel OK about walking into a bar and saying, “Can I please see your beer cocktail menu?” In the meantime, check out these pioneers of the art.
The King of the Hoptail, May 16, free
Feral Beer Cocktail Degustation, May 18, $175
10. Bands ‘n’ beers
What self-respecting band-room carpet would be without its layer of sticky, amber, WorkSafe-approved audience adhesive? Bands and beers are a symbiotic success story. They should be made Australian of the Year.
The Band, the Beer and the B.East Burger Blowout, May 20, free
Craft & Cult II, May 20, $12
11. Beers and bikes
Whether you’re a MAMIL (middle-aged man in Lycra) or a PWJRABGOI (person who just rides a bike, get over it) if you also like beer you’ll find joy here. Our tip: bike first, beer second.
The Friday Sickie – Good Beer Week Edition, May 20, $28
Mountain Bike the Hidden Trails of Red Hill with the Brewers, May 22, $27
12. Bus crawl
What’s better than a self-guided craft beer pub-crawl? A James Smith-guided craft beer pub-crawl on a bus. Expect a seven-hour tour of six venues, 24 different beers, food, plus insights from the former GBW festival director and beer book author.
Crafty’s Pint of Origin Bus Tour Parts I & II, May 14 and 21, $180
13. Pucker up
Sour beers are now a thing, so if you haven’t tried one, get with the program. From delicate palate-cleansers to crikey-I-just-sucked-the-juice-of-a-thousand-lemons-through-a-cat’s-butt brews, these beers just need your understanding.
Sours, Soul & Seafood, May 22, $85
Farmhouse, Funk & Sour Week, May 14-22, free entry
14. The Dude abides
Sure, the White Russian on offer may be an imperial stout but there’s plenty more on offer for Coen brothers fans, with screenings of The Big Lebowski and Barton Fink.
Platinum Liquor and Shenanigans Brewing Presents The Big Lebowski, May 21, $33
Coen Brothers Movie Night, May 18, free entry
15. High cuisine
See beer in a new light with a six-course beer degustation with top Australian and New Zealand chefs including Robin Wickens, or a wine versus beer food-matching throwdown at Vue de Monde, level 55, Rialto Tower.
GWB Presents: Mega Dega IV, May 21, $140
GWB Presents: Brew vs Cru, May 14, $220
Ides at Mornington Peninsula Brewery, May 15, $245
16. Low cuisine
Burgers and beer. This is where you’ll find it, folks.
“Melbourne Brewers Who Rule” Burgers, May 14-22, free
Thunder Road Brewing Burger Bash, May 15, free
17. Ridiculous to sublime
Iconoclastic UK brewers BrewDog once made a 12-bottle run of beers called The End of History. Each was 55 per cent alcohol, cost £500 and came stuffed up its own taxidermied rodent. Meanwhile, San Diego craft beer “soup Nazis” Stone Brewing love their beer so much they won’t sell it to people to who can’t keep it at the right temperature.
BrewDog Masterclass for Punks, May 18, $54
Ale Stars with Stone Brewing, May 17, $45
18. Women of beer
Bearded blokes have dominated the new craft beer scene for too long. This popular afternoon of beer and food-matching in Newport is changing all that.
Women of Beer Carnival, May 22, $60
19. More than just biru
Japanese craft beer went bang in 1994, when restrictions were lifted, allowing brewers to produce as little as 60,000 litres per year (the previous minimum was 2 million litres). Sure, there’s Asahi, Sapporo and Kirin but this country’s love of beer goes much deeper, combining a love of ingredients with great playfulness.
Japanese “Omakase” Craft Beer Experience, May 18, $95
Uke Mochi Eats A BBQ, Drinks Baird Brewery, May 19, free
20. BBQ and beer
Deep down everyone knows the best craft beer-food-matching-degustation feasts are done on a barbie. Fortunately, there are plenty to chose from this year, including our pick, a schooling in the art of low and slow cooking with barbecue master Eric Luhning.
BBQ School – American Smoking Barbecue and Bridge Road Brewers Masterclass, May 21, $140
Beers and Barbecue Under the Bridge, May 14-15, 21-22, free entry
Good Beer Week in on in Melbourne at various venues from May 13-22, see goodbeerweek.com.au. The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS) is part of Good Beer Week, and is on at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton May 20-22, and in Sydney at Australian Technology Park, in Eveleigh, May 27-28, see gabsfestival.com.
This story was originally published in Epicure Good Food on April 26, 2016.