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Brewer's Feast is changing the way you think about beer

People are enjoying it, and you know it's worth all the hours, late nights and the time that you put into it to see people enjoy it that much."

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With summer fast approaching, the cool, refreshing allure of an icy beer will no doubt be on the minds and hearts of many very soon. That glistening amber nectar has long held a prestige and culture that unites many a thirsty soul, and it’s that universal appeal that saw enthusiastic neighbours Tyson McGeoch and Travis Clarke create their own celebratory love letter to the drink last year – the Brewer's Feast.

"We're going to put on something that's even better this year, I hope," McGeoch says. "Last year was very popular. The best story I got from it was there was a couple that were there in the morning and they were going to head off to the races at Flemington. Later on, they didn't want to go – they were like, ‘Oh, this is better than the races, we're staying here all day.'"

There's a lot of time, effort and late evenings that go into a boutique craft beer and food festival, but McGeoch and Clarke are passionate about their subject. After a highly successful maiden year, Brewer's Feast will be expanding to encompass even more opportunities – think gourmet chefs serving a range of treats, craft beer education classes and over 18 breweries with more than 70 regular favourite beers. It's been hard work, but as the festival approaches, McGeoch assures that it's all worth it.

"We got into doing this because we've been to a few festivals, enjoyed them, and we're like, 'Why don't we do one ourselves, where we can do exactly what we want?’" McGeoch says. "We can try and get some festival beers, we can try to do some food and beer pairing, we can get some local artists to play music, and we can pick an awesome location. They're the key things that we wanted to try and have in the festival, and when you see people enjoying the day, and not wanting to leave, that says that we're doing something right. People are enjoying it, and you know it's worth all the hours, late nights and the time that you put into it to see people enjoy it that much."

A huge addition to this year's proceedings will be The Last Supper – a degustation dinner consisting of six craft beers paired with six dishes within the Mural and Salon Rooms of the Abbotsford Convent. Seated among the archways and paintings, you'll get to savour the likes of barbecued octopus, pulled pork bao buns, chicken with couscous, goat's cheese, caramelised onion, anchovies and even a couple of desserts for the sweet-tooth, including the pannacotta with whiskey-roasted strawberry and dark chocolate.

"There's a beer for pretty much anyone out there," McGeoch assures. "There's a beer to suit everyone's taste and flavour – it's just finding it. I think wine and food pairing, wine and cheese, has been very popular for a long time – but I think once people really get in and explore, and they get to sample the dinner or do some beer and cheese pairing, the flavours and the styles in beer are actually far more diverse than what wine is. You can really taste some big differences between the beers and how the food works with it to create a different flavour and texture when you eat.

"All these beers are generally made without chemicals, without preservatives – they're using grains and malts rather than sugars to create the flavours," McGeoch says. "It really ties in, especially in Melbourne, where there's such a big focus on the quality of food and experience that the beer's able to offer that with so many flavours."

There'll be over 12 beers specially brewed for the festival, from brewers like Moon Dog, Prickly Moses (using extremely rare, exclusive hops), Stockade Brew Co. (bringing a limited Victorian release of their Hop Splicer beer), Hop Nation and Watts River Brewing (who are both creating barrel-aged beers). With so many tempting flavours and styles on offer (a coffee porter, anyone?), McGeoch hopes to reflect the diverse palette of Australia's best for a day of relaxing delights.

"My personal's probably a wheat beer,” McGeoch says. "Not necessarily the most popular style in Australia, but I quite enjoy it. The strong flavours – the yeast flavours that you can get through them are really quite unique, but then, a good pale ale or an IPA always goes down well."

 

Our top food and drink pairings

Fancy Hanks
What goes better with a cold beer than American-style, slow-cooked BBQ meats? Think brisket, ribs, and delicious pulled-pork, cooked just like they do in the south. Only fancier.

Pair it with: One of Stockade Brew Co.’s very rare barrel-aged beers. These beers have been ageing in Lark Distillery and Redford Reserve barrels for the better part of two years and now they’re finally ready to be enjoyed.

Melbourne Arancini
For the unfamiliar, Arancini balls are little mounds of Sicilian street food heaven, made with Arborio rice, crumbed and deep fried. Melbourne Arancini take things up a notch, with traditional and not so traditional flavours – from pork/beef bolognese, to chicken/leek/mushroom or four cheese broccolini – it’s a great take on what Nonna makes.

Pair it with: Toorborac’s festival-brewed, Lime Chilli Session IPA 5%.

Dos Diablos
They’ll be parking their one-of-a-kind, bright red, canteen truck onsite to serve up a range of fast, fresh and fun Mexican street food. Bite into their signature tacos, tortas, diablos fries, nachos, or even a quesadilla. Bonus points because there’s something for everyone with their vegan, gluten, and dairy-free options.

Pair it with: Moon Dog’s experimental Mosaic Hopped IPA 6.5%. It’s soft and juicy with aromas and flavours of tropical fruit and pine.

Donut Panic
Craving something a little sweeter? Don(u)t panic, you’re covered. They’ll be serving up traditional Greek doughnuts – that’s right, those bite-sized balls of heaven – smothered in runny raspberry sauce, oozy Nutella, or even sticky caramel. 

Pair it with: The Prickly Moses and Brewers Feast collaboration beer. It’s a hoppy pale ale, using a rare hop ADHA-527 (its first known use in Australia). It has a clean bitterness, with a complex aroma that includes anise, stone fruit and spice. 

Twisted Mac
A hug in a bowl is really the only way to describe the golden, cheesy goodness that is mac ‘n cheese. It’s the ultimate comfort food, and Twisted Mac are serving it up in a big pan with a gourmet twist. Not only is it made with their own secret blend of Melbourne crafted cheeses, but their selection of toppings take things to the next level. Why not add some cider-braised pulled pork or even basil pesto and sundried tomatoes to the mix?

Pair it with: Holgate’s X Wing XPA, a dialled down version of the Millennium Falcon Emperial IPA, perfect for a summer session with a juicy hop hit.

St Kilda Burger Bar
A beer day out wouldn’t be complete without a juicy burger, and St Kilda Burger Bar will be grilling them up all weekend. Beef, crumbed chicken, double beef, Portobello mushroom, triple beef – there’s something for every taste.

Pair it with: KAIJU! Beer’s Tropical Session Ale, brewed with guava and passionfruit. That’s sure to hit the spot.

Brewer's Feast comes to Abbotsford Convent from Friday December 1 until Sunday December 3.