Chris Canty is the founder of TheHappiestHour, Australia’s number one food and beverage specials platform.
It’s no secret that Australians love a beer, and in the last few years, it’s craft beer which has gained their affection, with 547 breweries now dotted around the country. But if you can’t visit them all, a beer festival is next best thing, and there is no shortage of them either. In association with Expedia’s Kegs of Glory campaign, Chris Canty, founder of Oz’s No. 1 Food & Drink Specials Platform, chooses his favourites.
The Biggest Beer Festival
Created by the team that brought us the Local Taphouse and Stomping Ground Brewery, GABS is the unofficial closing ceremony of Australia’s biggest beer festival, Good Beer Week. Starting in 2012, the event has grown to where 100 breweries showcase their wares, including special one-off brews especially made for the event, to around 20,000 visitors. It also travels to Sydney and Auckland.
Where to Eat: A short walk away is the US inspired Rockwell and Sons, which makes the best fried chicken sandwich in town. For an old-fashioned pub meal with a small but worthy selection of beers, walk to the Napier Hotel, and try their famous bogan burger.
GABS is held in May.
The Most Relaxed Beer Festival
While Margaret River is known as one of Australia’s premier wine regions, that doesn’t mean they can’t produce some of the best beer as well. The SWBF showcases 20 local breweries, nearby food producers and live music, for what is undoubtedly the most chilled beer festival in the country.
Where to Stay: Make the most of the wine region by being pampered at the Empire Retreat and Spa that has their own 12-acre vineyard.
Where to Eat: Keep the beer themed visit going, in the casual and kid friendly setting of Brewhouse Margaret River. Onsite brews and local produce bring the people in from all over. Every Saturday all year round the Farmers Market showcases the best of the area’s culinary highlights together.
Where to Play: With one of the world’s great beaches on Margaret River’s doorstep, maybe it’s time to burns some carbs off and head to the water. The Margaret River Surf School can teach you how to master the waves.
SWBF is held in March.
The Liveliest Beer Festival
Part beer festival, part music festival, the Beer InCider Experience is known nationally as one of the country’s liveliest events, in a city with an ever-growing craft beer scene. Join a younger crowd and cheer on celebrated acts such as The Smith Street Band, while being tempted by beers from over forty brewers. You’ll need lots of water at this one.
Where to Stay: The Ovolo Inchcolm is a luxury boutique hotel that won’t break the bank. Known for its kitchen and wine cellar, it offers the relaxed yet sophisticated surrounds one might want after a day of beer and dancing.
Where to Eat: A short walk from the festival is the award-winning gastropub The Alliance Hotel, which is known for pairing craft beers with seasonal produce.
Where to Play: It’s hard to categorise a venue like Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, which must be the most original bar in the city. Think western whiskey bar meets Moulin Rouge with a vast selection of rums to choose from. Expect a night of dancing and tunes.
InCider is held in September.
The Tastiest Beer Festival
There might be hundreds of beers to choose from, but you’re undoubtedly going to have trouble holding that cup if your hands are so sticky. That’s because the festival has an equal focus on the talents of local BBQ masters and several international industry icons that give tasty masterclasses. It also travels to Sydney.
Where to Stay: North Adelaide is a quiet, leafy place, full of corner pubs and quaint eateries. A stay at the boutique Minima Hotel puts guests firmly in the middle of it.
Where to Eat: First stop must be the Adelaide Central Market, which has over 70 traders all under the one roof, offering an assortment of in-season delicacies. For dinner, experience one of the most highly decorated Asian restaurants in the city, where at the Concubine, they blend local ingredients, such as South Australian prawns, with delicate spices.
Where to Play: If you’re still in the mood for brews, rock up to The Wheatsheaf Hotel, arguably the best beer focussed pub in the country. Then for tunes, kick on to the historic Exeter Hotel, which hosts local musicians nearly every night of the week.
ABB is held in July.