The Ballarat Beer Festival is back for its ninth year and is looking to be the best one yet. Showcasing over one hundred and fifty of the world’s finest craft beers, this is a day festival that craft beer lovers won’t want to miss. We’ve rounded up a few of the highlights.
Ballarat Beer Festival is located at the easily accessible and beautiful Northern Gardens (the corner of Zoo and Nursery Drives), transforming the gardens into a craft beer lover’s paradise.
If you are coming from Geelong, it’s roughly a 90km drive via the Midland Highway (A300) which is just over an hour, and if you are driving from Melbourne, it’s about 120km drive along the National Highway (1.5 hours). Road-tripping is perfect if you have a crew by your side. If you need to park your car, there are plenty of free parking spots within walking distance of the event.
If you can’t find someone willing to be the designated driver for the day, hit up the public transport direct from Southern Cross or Geelong Station with the V/line. This will take you directly into the heart of town. The gardens are then about a ten-minute walk from the station or you can then take a tram or a good ol’ Uber.
The family-friendly festival is filled with almost 40 of Australia’s leading craft beer brewers, giving the crowds – and the craft beer enthusiasts – the chance to sample over 150 craft beers and ciders.
You will find brews from local brews from The Mallow Hotel, as well as well known favourites from Forte territory Blackman’s Brewery, Bells Beach Brewing, Flying Brick Cider Co. and Daylesford Brewing Co.
Brewers travelling from across Victoria this year include Bright Brewery, Bridge Road Brewers from Beechworth, Taltarni winery from Moonambel, Shedshaker Brewing from Castlemaine, Cheeky Rascal Cider, Eddies Cider and Jetty Road Brewery all from Mornington Peninsula.
Alongside these legends, BentSpoke Brewing Co is making the trip from Canberra, Philter Brewing is coming from Marrickville in NSW and Modus Operandi Brewing make their way from Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Matso’s Broome Brewery is even joining in on the fun all the way from Western Australia.
With heaps more brewers making their way to the gardens next month, this really will be the ultimate boulevard of beers (and cider!).
There will also be music to keep the good vibes flowing, with Melbourne singer/songwriter Michael Meeking, Melbourne Blues Institution Blues Roulette, Irish singer and songwriter Alan Boyle, up and coming bluesman Nathan Beretta and distinctive finger-picking and slide guitarist Fiona Boyes all taking to the stage. Joining them, the festival will also witness the live energy from the likes of party-starters Amber Gamblers, alternative pop singer-songwriter Libby Steele and her Band, the dark Australiana and shaky Louisiana swamp blues band Jess Parker & The Troubled Waters, and the brand new force of Bitches Brew.
Rocking out to music in the sunshine and sipping on fresh beer – say no more.
Eating is not cheating
Mixed in with many of Australia’s finest large, small and emerging independent breweries, you’ll find a dozen food stalls all serving up global culinary delights you can match with your favourite brews – and with a big day of tasting, you’ll need your energy. There’ll be everything from Spanish Gourmet Caterers, The Happy Mexican, Mr. Squidgy and Smokehouse 720, to Just Chips Victoria, Tims Toasties, The Forge Pizzeria, and even Traditional Baked Potato Co.
Don’t be fooled. The festival isn’t just about drinking (unless you want it to be). As part of the festival, there will also be a series of free seminars over the day with the esteemed Professor Pilsner and Beer Diva, giving beer lovers the opportunity to meet and mingle with the brains behind the brands, indulge in beer, cheese and opera, suss out beer-innovation and even witness the blindfolded beer experience. Prizes and samples will be on offer throughout the day so make sure you pop by and learn a thing or three.
Leave the cash at home
This year, the Ballarat Beer Festival will operate a digital currency to ensure speed of service, increased security and ease of transactions at the Bars, Food Outlets and Vendor Stalls.
Most importantly, there will be reduced need to wait in lines, counting out coins to buy a beer, as your friends get thirsty for your round! As such, all food, merchandise and drinks purchased at BIG will need to be paid for using the simple, tap-and-go Festival Currency Wristbands. Festival Currency can be purchased at Ballarat Beer Festival via currency stands or the roaming top-up currency sellers, or to save even more time and queuing, you can even pre-purchase your wristband and currency online via the website.
What’s even more rad is that after the festival you can get a refund on the festival currency you don’t use at the event – just make sure you keep your wristband!
Craft beer, ciders, fine wines, live music and food trucks – The Ballarat Beer Festival is the best way to spend a Saturday this summer.
It all goes down on Saturday, February 15. For tickets and further information visit ballaratbeerfestival.com.au.