Ballarat Beer Festival – The most laid back, relaxing summer festival

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Ballarat Beer Festival – The most laid back, relaxing summer festival

If you’re not from Ballarat, it might seem like a long drive for a beer. However, the Ballarat Beer Festival makes it worth it. And according to festival organiser Ric Dexter, the sixth year edition next January will be the best one yet – hosting the release of more than 20 new beers.

“It’s great for the festival to be back in Ballarat again. It’s really pleasing that many brewers have actually chosen the event to release new beers. There will be over 20 new beers being released that have never been seen before in Australia,” he says.

With Ballarat being the centre of Australian home brewing (and otherwise known as Beerllarat for that particular weekend), the town boasts three locally-loved micro-breweries – Red Duck, Rebellion Brewing and Athletic Club Brewery – along with a multitude of home brewers and even a university course for home brewing at Federation Uni.

The family-friendly festival is filled with about 40 of Australia’s leading craft beer brewers, giving the crowds – and the craft beer enthusiasts – the chance to sample over 200 craft beers and ciders, further fostering the explosion of the Australian craft beer scene.

Along with getting to taste some delicious brews, this type of festival also gives you a chance to meet the brewers from local, national and international breweries, including Coopers, Bad Shepherd Brewing Co, Blackman’s Brewery, Bridge Road Brewers, Brooklyn Brewery, Rebellion Brewing, West City Brewing and Mildura Brewery – among many others.

“All the brewers are independently owned brewers, there’s not one major brand at all. They are generally family brewers from all over Victoria, some from Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales,” Ric says.

As part of the festival, the three local brewers have their own fenced off area with the Ballarat Brewers Beer Garden for the first time. Festival attendees and locals can sit back and enjoy some locally-brewed goodness, while the brewers use this space to release their own new beers, with the most notable one being ‘Ballarat Betty Bitter’ from the Athletic Club Brewery.

There will be a series of free seminars over the day with Professor Pilsner and the Beer Diva covering beer, pairing with food and judging aromas and simply appreciating craft beer. They will also host the Bintani’s Friday Night Degustation Dinner, providing guests the chance to mix and mingle with the brewers while enjoying a delicious five course menu served with perfectly matched beers.

Festival Day BBF2016 4

With the increase of craft beer in both Australia, and worldwide, Ric puts it down to the fact that craft beer is more of an experience, rather than a thirst-quenching drink.

“I think it’s the fact that craft beer is both a healthy drink, and it’s more a tasty beer. It’s not something you just throw down like water or one of the commercial beers you find around the place. People are taking time to enjoy and savour the flavours and the aromas.”

We know beer isn’t for everyone, so don’t worry if you’re not an esteemed beer lover. There will also be an impressive showcase of ciders, and wines from Mitchel Harris Wines and Pizzini Wines.

As for food, the festival is hosting 14 food trucks, including The Cajun Kitchen, King of Spuds, The Forge Pizzeria, Squid Inc Direct, The Hippie Whippy and Golden Corn – just to name a few.

There will also be music to keep the good vibes flowing, with the likes of Dallas Crane, Blues Brothers, Riflebirds, The Houndlings, Michael Meeking & The Lost Souls, This Way North and Thee Gravy Train Four, with Ric ensuring these bands will deliver on the day.

“I’ve seen all of these bands, some of them quite a few times. To me, combined, they make a great mix of music styles without going down the folk, poppy or jazz genre. After all, rock and roll and beer go together too well. I think we have chosen a great mixture of bands to please anyone.”

This year will see the return of the Brew Cage, offering a VIP experience with a two course lunch from Squires Loft, and the Greatest Home brewers competition, with the winner receiving a cash prize and the opportunity to have their winning brew on tap at Ballarat’s Mallow Hotel – giving them ultimate bragging rights.

As part of the festivities, the brand new ‘Beellarat Olympics’ will see a human-size foosball game make its way onto the grounds with feats of endurance and balance, as well as an assortment of family-friendly games and drinking-friendly activities – including face painting and henna tattoos.

“The whole idea of this festival is more about fun then having huge headline acts and music. It’s concentrating on the beer and just having a great day out.

“The Ballarat Beer Festival is probably the most laid back, relaxing festival anywhere – and it’s certainly recognised by the public and brewers alike as the best regional beer festival all in Australia.”

For tickets and further information visit

When & Where: City Oval, Ballarat – January 21 2017

Written by Talia Rinaldo