Good Beer Week

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Next week sees the launch of the first Good Beer Week – seven days of events, talks, dinners and tastings focusing on that most beloved of brews. Spread across dozens of bars, shops and venues around town, GBW represents Melbourne’s growing appreciation for craft beers and the micro-breweries that produce them. It also means better beer for everyone.

I caught up with Barney Matthews from Beer Deluxe, one of the organisers of GBW, over a few cold ones to talk about moving beyond the Carlton vs VB debate.

How did the idea for Good Beer Week get started?
The Australian International Beer Awards has been running a beer week for some time now, but there wasn’t one planned for this year, so we decided to get the industry involved to showcase all the good things going on with craft beer in Australia at the moment.
Over the last two years the industry’s really gained momentum. When I was growing up it was always Carlton vs VB, then Coopers came along. These days we’ve got close to one hundred micro-breweries in Victoria alone. We probably lead Australia in terms of what’s new and up and coming, especially in the bar scene.

What’s been leading the appreciation of craft beer?
The pursuit of better, local produce. Melbourne’s always been into good coffee, wine and fresh, local produce. I think an appreciation of beer is a natural extension of this. Plus regional Victoria has such amazing produce it allows breweries in places like the Yarra Valley to use local, unique ingredients.

What events are you looking forward to during GBW?
The Great Beer Debate at Ormond Hall is the premiere event, with James Watt from (Scottish Brewery) Brew Dog and Steve Grossman from Sierra Nevada attending. It’s going to be a great night for beer lovers with dinner, music, comedy and of course craft beers om tap. Atticus Finch are putting on Beer Vs Pig, and the Kiwi Spectapular at The Local Taphouse will be pretty big.
Four regional breweries, Red Hill, Holgate, Hargreaves Hill and Bridge Road are taking part in the Good Beer Swap, where they showcase each other’s beers and give visitors the opportunity to try craft beers from different parts of Victoria. So there’s good stuff going on all Victoria, a lot of variety, and a lot of beer.

How do you see the industry growing?
Seasonal runs are becoming more popular, for example Mountain Goat is currently doing a collaboration brew with CUB and Moondog. At the moment on tap we’ve got an Anzac Biscuit-inspired Ale from Burleigh Brewing Co, an Easter Ale, loosely based on the spices from a hot cross bun, from Murray’s and a Chocolate Stout from Mildura Brewing. There’s also more bars and bottle shops willing to stock more independent and interesting beers, as the demand grows.
But at the end of the day the industry will only grows when people switch from what they’re drinking to a micro-brew. One of the reasons behind Good Beer Week is to get people who normally wouldn’t try craft beer to give one a go.

**Our interview comes to an end when Barney has to launch a Saison Ale from Tasmanian Brewery Moo Brew. The limited edition beer is being simultaneously released with three other venues around Australia. It tastes hoppy, smooth and strong – I’ll drink to that, and Good Beer Week.**

Good Beer Week runs from May 16 -21
For the full program of events visit: www.goodbeerweek.com

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