With the eyes of the local beer world this week having been fixed on Australia Day events and how best to follow the reveal of the Hottest 100 Beers Of 2016, you'd be forgiven for thinking there mightn't have been much else going on in the Aussie beer world in January. As it transpired, it was with the early weeks of the year setting down a terrifyingly full calendar to indicate just how busy things may get in 2017. No point trying to fight it, though, so it's time to get amongst it...
With Stone & Wood having reached the summit of Australia's biggest people's choice beer poll, attention turns across the ditch to see who'll take out the title in New Zealand. That coincides rather nicely with the launch of the 2017 New Zealand Craft Beer Symposium which will see beers from the likes of 8 Wired, Garage Project, Epic, Yeastie Boys, Liberty and more being sent out to 17 top beer venues in six states in order to spread the love a little further. On top of that, New Zealand's national day, Waitangi Day, is observed soon after so will see a number of other events being held; for example you can try nine beers from Garage Project at The Terminus, enjoy the company of Tuatara at The Quarryman's Hotel and go native with the eclectic beers of Kereru at the Flodge.
With the warm weather due to hang around for some time yet, festivals are still very much on the radar. The most pressing from a beer perspective is the Hobart Beerfest which (starting today) takes place on the waterfront and rounds out the city's wider Beer Lover's Week. Next is Ales On The Ovens, a local-focused fest that takes place on the banks of the Ovens River in Wangaratta. Then there's the South West Craft Beer Fest, now in its sixth year, which celebrates the beauty and breadth of the south west corner of WA by way of its local beer, wine, cuisine and music.
Looking ahead a little, February sees the arrival of the Great Australian Beer Fest which is expected to bring more than 5000 people through the gates of the Geelong Racecourse to enjoy a lineup heavy on local beer, music across three stages, seminars, cabaret, food trucks and plenty more. Then, in March, is the Melbourne Beerfest which will bring more than 60 stalls to St Kilda's Catani Gardens – watch out for a substantial giveaway for Crafty Cabal members on this one. And while we're at it you might as well put a marker down for Launceston's fabulous Fresh Hop Beer Festival on April 21-23.
On a slightly smaller but no less significant scale, Bitter Phew is turning three and, to celebrate, will be digging into the cellar to tap some rare beers that ought to make its keener customers very happy. One of those set to feature at that event is a previous vintage of Hargreaves Hill's Phoenix and, as fate would have it, you'll be able to try the following vintage a few days later when Harts Pub taps it (the only keg coming to NSW) as part of a Hargreaves Hill tap takeover hosted by the brewery's founder, Simon Walkenhorst.
Ahead of their third birthday, Shenanigans will be hosting a rare dinner event when they team up with The Empire Hotel for what will be a strikingly colourful six course beer and food matching feast. Another rather large feast will be that of The Lord Nelson's 30 Years Brewing One Eyed beer dinner where Blair Hayden will be regaling stories of the iconic Sydney pub's three decades in business alongside a nostalgic menu. Just across the water, The Quarryman's Hotel is using Japan's National Foundation Day as an excuse to tap Baird Beer's beers and serve them up alongside Japanese-themed burgers and, up the road a little further, the soon-to-be-brewery that is Sauce will be launching its fourth beer at Uncle Hops and following that up by being a feature guest at The Empire Hotel's next Beer Club.
Finally, The Windsor Alehouse is about to embark on Can It!, a six month search for a top local comedian that ought to be ideal for those wanting cheap laughs and cheap canned beer.