Adelaide’s Festival Scene – Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival

Here at The Plus Ones we pride ourselves on being across Australia’s festival scene. Adelaide has long been on our ‘to-do’ list. Its reputation for festivals is first-class, and I can’t believe it has taken us this long to get there!

The Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival (ABBF), held this year from 8-10 July at the Adelaide Showgrounds, is a three-day indulgence of all things food, great beer and entertainment. Its timing, in the middle of winter, may at first appear curious — but the logic is sound. Specific to Adelaide, it’s a nice break post Mad March which sees Adelaide Fringe, WOMAdelaide and the Royal Croquet Club take over the city. Specific to beer, brewers have had a (small) break post Good Beer Week and GABS fun in Melbourne and Sydney.

The festival is in its second year and is led by Gareth Lewis, easily the most chilled-out festival director in Australia. Seriously, a few minutes prior to kick-off you expect organisers to be frantic. However Gareth could be seen having cheeky banter with crew and sporting a beaming smile. I’m not surprised: this was one well-planned operation. There didn’t seem to be a single hiccup. The brewers were pouring, the fires roaring, and the music pumping right from the first patron.

Friday – the Knock Off Session kicks off at 5pm and sees the after-work crowd moving through the historic brick and cattle pavilion, sampling beers from 50 exhibitors like they’ve been at work all week. Samples are $2.50, but unlike many other festivals these ‘tasters’ are very generous (think pot sized to give you a reference). The barn like setting is spectacular, and for me, made one of the most lasting impressions of the festival. Post 10pm, I did perch myself next to one of the barrel fires. It gets nippy, but the fires, fabulous live music, and a mug filled with chilli beer proved to be a warming combination.

Saturday – begins with the Beer Geek session. I arrived 30 mins prior to opening and the queue had already formed. This is the beer geek session and hosts a couple of master classes to further knowledge of the industry. Better yet, it’s also when the American pit master, Rodney Scott, started serving lashings of his delicious rub. Rodney had been at the venue since midnight on Friday cooking a hog for hungry punters to devour. It was slow cooked goodness at its best! Last year, the team held the Saturday session as one long 12-hour session. This year they (wisely) split it into two. The second session, Rock N Roll, brought in the good times crowd for a mini festival within a festival feel.

Sunday – Snean Sunday, similar to GABS, is a great day for the family. By this stage exhibitors are also having the best of times. You can even book in for a snazzy haircut.

While in the city, I also had the opportunity to indulge in some other Adelaide activities. To begin with, I highly recommend taking an Ecocaddy bike tour. A private business run by local entrepreneurs, it fills the gap between public transport and things that are a little too far away to walk to. Tours are run by locals with in-depth knowledge one can only garner after 20+ years of calling a city home. I was shown a ton of bars and restaurants in hidden nooks and crannies (Pink Moon Saloon is must-go bar) that I wouldn’t have ever stumbled upon.

If you head over, I’d also highly recommend Rundle Street and the Blackwood Restaurant. The street is one of Adelaide’s most famous, with the strip littered with impressive bars and restaurants. We had the opportunity to try Blackwood’s scrumptiousness which specialises in Australian fare and delicious SA wines. Don’t go past the pipis here and get plenty of bread to sop up the delicious broth.

One thing’s for sure, we won’t wait this long between drinks to head down to Adelaide again. Next on our list will be the Adelaide Fashion Festival which showcases Adelaide’s most creative designers. We also won’t be missing Mad March for Adelaide Fringe, WOMAdelaide, the Royal Croquet Club and Tasting SA. Phew, here’s to next time!

– Rukmal
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Rukmal lives and breathes events.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Events South Australia and the Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival.