Ballarat Beer Festival

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Ballarat Beer Festival

We all know the fun in drinking beer with mates, but there are right ways and wrong ways to do it. The Ballarat Beer Festival happening in January is one of the former, and is set to be a day of spoiling your tastebuds, discovering new beers (there are over 100 different types) and listening to great music. We had a chat to festival director Ric Dexter about what the festival is all about.
Hi Ric, thanks for taking the time to chat with Forte Magazine, how are you and what are you up to at the moment? 
Thanks for asking, I am well and up to my eyeballs with the final planning of the festival. Arranging a one day festival for 8000 people is fairly complex when you consider the logistics required.
How did the festival first come to be? And can you tell us how the festival has evolved over the years?
The coming January 16, 2016 Ballarat Beer Festival will be the 5th. It was originally started by four individuals, each with their own area of specialisation. Now that I am the new festival director, I work closely with Kate Burrows, the event manager and one of the originators. The festival has always been about craft beers, a safe and fun family environment and great music. This coming festival sees a stronger emphasis on independent craft brewers and a huge band line up.
What are your thoughts on the growth and appreciation for the craft beer industry?
The explosive growth of craft beers has been phenomenal over the last decade, with new brewers popping up monthly around the country as well as many venues switching to a craft beer emphasis and new venues created to cater for the craft beer movement. It’s almost like a new religion!
Beer festivals are quickly becoming a highlight on the calendar year for many, what do you love most about catching up and having a few drinks at the festival?
The Ballarat Beer Festival, the first regional festival catering to craft beers, is very much a relaxed atmosphere ideal for tasting some fantastic brews ranging from traditional to esoteric. It is definitely not a beer swilling occasion and historically the crowds have all been extremely well behaved.
What do you think is the perfect way to drink a beer, fast or slow, at a BBQ or a gig etc?
Craft beers are like wines in my opinion. Not to be consumed in a guzzle, but to savour the flavours and aromas. There are so many varieties to try and to have a festival environment around you, relaxing in the sun with friends, and listening to awesome bands, it just doesn’t get any better than that.
With over 100 different craft beers at the festival, do you have a favourite at all?
My favourite styles are generally in the IPA range, and I do have some favourites – depending on what time of the day it is. If I had to answer this question, the top three for me come from Pirate Life, Feral Brewery and Temple Brewery. There, that’s three breweries from three states – politically correct I hope!
We’ve heard there are a few rare brews as well, are you able to tell our readers what the special beers are?
There will be some rare ones at the show, but you will just have to come along and find out…
Of course there are bands at the festival as well, how important was it for you to include live music in the experience?
Live music to a craft beer festival is as important as having a bottle opener to me. Music creates the vibe and the hardest part of organising the festival is the band line up. In 2016 we are trying to have quite a few genres of music to satisfy all the punters, but obviously that is nearly impossible. In conjunction with PowerFM in Ballarat, we have been running a “Homebrewed Battle of the Bands” and the winner of that gets to open the festival and receive a $500 prize from Coopers, our major sponsor. Coopers and I are both passionate about supporting new musicians.
What did a band have to encompass to make the cut for the festival?
Stage presence, talent and fun. With a line up as we have, The New Savages, The Bakersfield Glee  Club, The Rechords, Kylie Auldist, Dallas Crane and the iconic You Am I, I believe this will be a fantastic festival, packed into nine hours of pleasuring taste buds, stomachs, ears and dancing your legs off.
Thanks again for having a chat with us, are there any last words of wisdom you’d like to share with our readers? 
Book in early – this will be a sellout!
Ticket packages and more information can be found at
When & Where: City Oval, Ballarat – January 16