Bendigo On The Hop, Australia’s best winter craft beer festival, will once again pair some of the finest venues in town and Australia’s best breweries. Craft beer lovers get to meet and talk to the brewers, be entertained by talented musicians and meet people who are as passionate about craft beer as you walk from venue to venue in beautiful Bendigo.
Now in its fourth year, the event is run by the not for profit Bendigo Beer and was created to help foster the craft beer culture in the local with all profits made from the festival going straight back into supporting the local beer industry.
“We ran Bendigo Beer for three years before we started this festival. I spent the first three years going to all the other festivals and asking the breweries what do you like about it, what don’t you like about it, what can be done better, and if you were running a festival what would you like to see,” says Trevor Birks, co-founder of Bendigo Beer.
“We were determined to be a little bit unique and different to every other beer festival getting around so we thought we would do it by having a walking beer tour of Bendigo CBD,” he says. “For people who have never been to Bendigo before, it’s a great way to see the town and walking around the historic architecture with the mixture of outdoor venues and indoor venues.”
Ten venues each host two breweries, each pouring two beers, and ticket holders make their way from venue to venue, sampling as they go, with the organisers making Bendigo’s best beer venues that have supported the local craft beer industry part of the celebrations, alongside the brewers and beers. The venues range from funky, back laneway bars to traditional pubs, to open pop up bars near the park.
“There’s a wide range of venues you will experience and it’s basically, if I wasn’t organising it I would want to come to it,” he laughs. “We built a festival that we would want to go to, and this is a festival that we are very proud of, and the city has embraced it which is great.”
With the rise in craft beer and the finer focus on local ingredients, flavour and aroma, this year Bendigo On The Hop have kept it simple and striped the festival right back, with only a limited number of breweries.
“This year we backed it off and we’ve gone quality over quantity. We’ve gone to 20 breweries and each brewery brings two beers – a core range or an entry level beer for people that haven’t really tried craft beer before and then for the beer nerds or the more adventurous people, each brewery is bringing a unique beer they are brewing just for the festival,” Birks explains.
“We’ve given them license to go nuts and brew whatever they want, or if a brewery can’t do that, they’re going to bring a beer that they are launching nationally at the festival. It’s very exciting, it means that you are guaranteed to have at least 20 beers that no one else has had in Australia before.”
This means those travelling from afar can be sure they will have an experience like no other, being among the first to try these new brews.
The lineup for 2017 is yet to be announced, but with a focus on the Australian craft beer culture, it promises to only feature 100 per cent Australian independent breweries.
“Bendigo beer is all about supporting local independent craft beer so that’s why we decided to go that way. It works really well, the industry has really jumped on board as well,” Birks says.
“The great thing about Bendigo On the Hop is that there is something for everyone. If you are hardcore beer nerd there is something for you because we have all these amazing beers that are going to be appearing for the first time at the festival, and then if you’re not really into beer but you’re going because all your mates are going, it’s still a good time,” Birks says. “And if you don’t drink beer? Well today you will and I guarantee you will have a good time.
“It’s really for people with an open mind, it’s for people that want to have a bit of fun and don’t take things too seriously, and I think you’ll enjoy it a lot more that way.”
When & Where: Various Venues, Bendigo – August 26. For more info visit bendigobeer.com.
Written by Talia Rinaldo