When May rolls around and the leaves turn the colour of malty amber ale, it’s a sign: Good Beer Week has returned. Running from May 11–20, the theme for the eighth iteration of this yeasty festival is “Ultimate Mix” highlighting the breadth and variety of events on offer.
“Just like a mix that you’d make for your friends with different tastes in music and genres, we think that Good Beer Week’s pretty similar,” says general manager Siobhan Kerin. “You’ve got the ability to make whatever’s a good fit for you, by taking a little bit of everything.”
With over 250 events to choose from this year across the week (which is actually ten days, if you’re counting), here are our top picks.
Fixation Fest at the Old Bar
On the last Saturday of Good Beer Week, our favourite bandroom boozer, the Old Bar, is hosting a tap takeover. Local punk outfits Pistol Peaches, Wurst Nurse, Body Parts and Horace Bones are all playing sets, with Byron’s Fixation Brewery supplying the brew – IPA in particular.
Entry will get you a free pot of Fixation too.
Sat May 19, 7.30pm–late
Cans and Bands at the Farm
Mountain Goat is back with another of its Cans and Bands bonanzas, this time at the Collingwood Children’s Farm, which “was hugely popular last year, and is little bit more indie,” says Kerin.
Cable Ties and the very kid-friendly Suss Cunts will be providing the tunes, while Kensington’s La Tortilleria is on food duty.
Fri May 18, 6.30pm–late
The Wheaty Brewing Corps Residency
Adelaide’s Wheaty Brewing Corps is taking over Preston local Tallboy and Moose three times during GBW, for three separate events, which includes an exploration of hops, a hands-on blending class and a launch party.
“Some of the ladies are coming over from South Australia and they’re just fantastic, their beers are amazing and they’re doing some interesting, quite nerdy stuff,” says Kerin.
Mon May 14, 7pm–late
Tue May 15, 7pm–late
Fri May 18, 4pm–late
Tallboy and Moose, 270 Raglan St, Preston
Tins of Glory
Ever heard of Tinnie Hurling? Well, it’s just like lawn bowls but with cans of beer, a “pleasure zone” to reach and a $2000 prize for the most skilled tinnie hurler. Hosted by Balter Brewing Company, go to witness teams hurling for the ultimate prize – to be crowned World Tinnie Hurling Champions. If you’re feeling boisterous, find a friend and enter a team yourself.
“It’s going to be massive this year,” Kerin says. “I went last year and it was epic. It’s a really good, fun time.”
Wed May 16, 7pm–late
The Third Day, 290 Macaulay Road, North Melbourne
Hoptails & Ales
Brunswick Street’s intimate bar and taqueria Little Hop will be mixing beer into a variety of bizarre and delicious cocktails this year. Expect hop-based sorbet spiked with tequila, pale-ale Negronis, and Micheladas with punchy add-ons of Mezcal.
A ticket will get you five cocktails, a starter and three tacos.
Mon May 14, 7pm–late
Little Hop, 277 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
All You Can Meat
“This one’s great value,” says Kerin. And you can’t argue. $35 will get you all of the barbequed meat you can handle between 12 and 4pm. You’ll also get one of the city’s best Yarra-side views at Riverland, as well as the chance to try some unique beers from Brewmanity Beer Co and Shifty Lizard Brewing.
Sat May 12, 12pm–late
Vaults 1–9 Federation Wharf, Federation Square, Melbourne
According to Kerin, “The beer that they’ve decided to go with is a German-style beer, which Lazerpig says screams party vibes.”
Sat May 12, 6pm–late
Lazerpig Pizza Parlour, 9–11 Peel Street, Collingwood
La Sirene Goes “Under the Sea” in Paradise
Alphington brewers La Sirene have put together a feast of seafood-based canapes, which will be served throughout the night at Collingwood’s Paradise Alley, alongside some special and limited-edition La Sirene beers.
This one is one to watch because La Sirene’s beers “are a perfect match for seafood”, says Kerin.
Tue May 15, 6pm–10pm
Paradise Alley, 25 Easey Street, Collingwood
The Good Beer Run
Some exercise is guaranteed to end with a lengthy drinking session. The Good Beer Run is chief among them and comes to Melbourne after a successful inaugural event at WA Beer Week.
“Everyone loves a fun run here so that the run will start at Beer Deluxe, there are different distances, and it finishes with a nice beer,” says Kerin. “The money that goes towards it is all going to Huntington’s disease”.
Sun May 13, 10.30am–3.30pm
Beer Deluxe, Federation Square
The Changing Face of Beer
A collaboration with Pink Boots – an international group created to support women in beer – The Changing Face of Beer symposium will explore one of the prevailing issues in the brewing industry: the treatment and representation of women. The conversation will feature UK beer writer Melissa Cole, Jaega Wise of Wild Card Brewery in London, Pink Boots Australia president Alli MacDonald and other local representatives.
“It’s at the forefront of our industry at the moment, this is a great panel discussion about what we can do as Australian beer women, and what we should be looking for,” says Kerin.
Thu May 17, 10am–11.30am
Upstairs at Beer DeLuxe, Federation Square, Melbourne
Mikkeller Pop-up Bar
World-renowned Copenhagen brewer Mikkeller, known for its eye-poppingly experimental beer, will be hosting a take-over at Abbotsford’s Dr Morse for one night this Good Beer Week. There’s a temporary tinnie bar, as well as a total overhaul of the taps, featuring cult classics and limited-edition releases.
“Mikkeller has some of the most interesting beers that you will see and they will definitely have a lot of limited releases, which are weird and wonderful,” says Kerin.
Thu 17 May, 12pm–11pm
Dr Morse Bar and Eatery, 274 Johnston Street, Abbotsford
Beerspresso 2 – Nitro Extravaganza!
Tallboy and Moose is following up on last year’s inaugural Beerspresso, with a bigger and bolder sequel. This time, all coffees and beers will be nitrogenated. Eight brewers, including Hop Nation, Stomping Ground, Hawkers, Wheaty Brewing Corps, 3 Ravens, The Clifton Hill Brew Pub and The Mill will be pairing up with eight coffee roasters to create different forms of coffee-brewed beer. Entry will get you a taste of eight coffees, along with a glass of each “beerspresso”.
Sat May 12, 12pm-3pm
Sat May 12, 5pm-late
Tallboy and Moose, 270 Raglan Street, Preston
All Things Even More Awesomer
At All Things Even Awesomer, 7 Cents Brewery will be offering four distinct beers alongside whisky, cured meats and cheese. Hosted by the Valley Cellar Door in Moonee Ponds, this event lets beer/whisky nerds geek out on barrel-aged beers.
“This one’s great value” says Kerin. “It’s also great if you’re local to that [Moonee Ponds] area”.
Sun May 13, 3pm–5pm
Thu May 17, 7pm–10pm
Valley Cellar Door, 18 Hall Street, Moonee Ponds
System Wars: Carnival of the Brew
Watch (and probably learn) as professional brewers from the likes of Mountain Goat, Starward Distillery and Two Birds are challenged to produce their favourite beers on smaller home-brew systems. A great opportunity for Melbourne’s home-brewing community to get together.
Sat May 12, 1.30pm–6.30pm
Grain and Grape, 5/280 Whitehall Street, Yarraville
From Johnston St to Oblivion II
After their enormous success last year, Young Henrys is returning to Melbourne from its Newtown beer cave for more.
“Live music and fun always follow Young Henrys,” says Kerin. “This year is no different.”
Expect games, drinks, food and loud music in a raucous afternoon at the Rochester.
Sat May 12, 2pm–6pm
202 Johnson Street, Fitzroy
Lawn Bowls in the Pub
Richmond’s Royston Hotel is hosting Good Beer Week newcomers, the Perth-based brewer Nowhereman for a laidback afternoon of lawn bowls on opening Saturday. Enter in a team or just come to watch over a steam ale or a saison as revellers duke it out for the Pub Bowls Shield.
Sat May 12, 12pm¬–6pm
The Royston Hotel, 12 River Street, Richmond
Brewers and Chewers
A Good Beer Week institution, this event doesn’t just offer a stellar line-up of food and beer; it also gives guests the chance to have in-depth conversations with both local and international brewers. Hosted at Good Beer Week’s spiritual home, St Kilda’s Local Taphouse, the beery gabfest features booze luminaries such as Richard Watkins from BentSpoke, Chris Moore from Sailors Grave, Brendan O'Sullivan from 3 Ravens, Gazz Williams from Tiny Rebel (UK), Alex Violette from Pasteur Street (Vietnam), Steve Wagner from Stone Brewing Co (USA), Jarred MacLachlan from Deep Creek Brewing (NZ) and Alexandra Nowell from Three Weavers Brewing (USA).
“Brewers and Chewers has been happening for the longest time, and it’s just one of those ones that’s so reliable,” says Kerin. “You’re going to go, and you’re going to have a good evening without fail.”
Wed May 16, 7pm–late
The Local Taphouse, 184 Carlisle Street, St Kilda East
Rogue Wave Surf and Brew Day
One of the more elaborate and adventurous events that Good Beer Week has attempted, the Rogue Wave Surf and Brew Day will offer a comprehensive day of surfing and drinking along the Great Ocean Road.
Your ticket will include a surfing lesson in the morning, followed by an afternoon brew session, with dinner and a tasting paddle (the beer kind, not the surfing kind) at the Aireys Pub in the evening.
Sat May 19, 11am–10pm
Rogue Wave Brewery, 425 Great Ocean Road, Aireys Inlet