Great Australian Beer Festival: A massive day of beer tasting, cider and appreciation

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Great Australian Beer Festival: A massive day of beer tasting, cider and appreciation

Geelong’s Great Australian Beer Festival is back this summer at Geelong’s Racecourse for its fifth, and set to be the biggest year yet, according to festival director Michael Ward.

“This will be our biggest, it will be our best, it will be the most engaging, and I personally believe there’s no better way to kick off a social year in Geelong in summer than over 200 beers and 35-40 ciders to choose from… hey it’s brilliant,” he says.

“You will just feel compelled to wonder. We have brewers representing every state in Australia, it’s really a massive alfresco beer garden in an essence.”

With the recent explosion of the Australian craft beer scene, the festival is a celebration of both local and state-wide breweries, showcasing hundreds of different brews with a variety of styles to please everyone.

Armed with your festival ticket, festival goers will receive a 200ml tasting glass for copious amounts of beer and cider tastings from the pop up bars in exchange for tokens (where tokens act as cash).

The festival currently has 35 brewers involved, including a range of local brewers such as Blackman’s Brewery, Little Creatures, and Prickly Moses, as well as Stone & Wood, White Rabbit Brewery and iconic surfer Mick Fanning’s own Balter Brewing Company – just to name a few.


“We just want to really foster that understanding and appreciation of our local brewing and give people an opportunity, but always our aim is to have brewers come from all over Australia. We have a waiting list to get in – we are full,” Ward says.

“There are so many different recipes and varying tastes of beer. With over 200 beers, no one is going to get through that many beers in a day. Every year we bringing back new brewers, it’s a growing market.”

With the aim of fostering an appreciation of craft beer, there will be a series of free seminars over the day giving beer lovers the opportunity to meet and mingle with the brains behind the brands, learn how to taste beer and match beer with cheese and food.

Next year’s festival will also see the addition of a fully exclusive VIP area within great viewing of the main stage, unlimited food prepared by Jesse Hughes, unlimited alcohol and private toilets, inspired by a beer festival in NZ’s Hagley Park.

With DJ’s playing summer tunes, an international beer hall which aims to represent every continent, and a variety of food trucks and BBQ’s, the festival aims on engaging all the sense. Especially with the inclusion of interactive activities for festival-goers to participate in, from a keg rolling competition on the race track, quirky costume races, beer cabaret, and even a beer cocktail corner with George Camorra, the former owner of Cloud 9 Lounge Bar who will be creating a variety of beer concoctions using whiskeys and liquors.


The musical line-up is another real treat for the festival with The Potbelleez, Richard Clapton, Jon Toogood, Reuben Stone, Mitch King, Luke Morris, Rach Brennan Band, Gerry McKeague and Joss Russell, among others. Ward says putting together this line-up was important to get right, influencing the entire feel of the day.

“There’s a bit of folk, bit of indie, bit of rock. Sometimes people don’t know why they are having a good time, but it’s the music. I think it’s imperative we get that right. We are going to get The Potbellez to close the festival – I think that’s a real highlight. People will leave with a real buzz and fond memories.”

The Great Australian Beer Festival positions craft beer as a journey, and one which Ward says will be the perfect way to spend a warm summer day in Geelong.

“It’s a day of beer tasting, and cider and appreciation. Doesn’t get much better.”

Written by Talia Rinaldo

When & Where: Geelong Racecourse – February 18 2017

Visit for tickets.