The Ballarat Beer Festival provided an excellent reason to escape the city for the day and go on a mini adventure. My intrepid plus one and I boarded the V-Line with a number of other Melbourne based beer enthusiasts for an out of town escapade.
Ballarat is quickly becoming a craft beer hub for regional Victoria. Local breweries include Red Duck and Athletic Club and last year the Victorian Government announced its support to establish an Australian Craft Beer Centre of Excellence in the town.
This year the event was held on Lake Wendouree. The location was hard to beat with the combination of sun, shady trees, and a waterside view. A golf game whacking balls onto a floating green made use of the lake side location. Other fun and frivolity included a brewers’ sack race and a petting zoo for the kids. We even spotted a bridal shower in attendance.
The majority of the breweries focused on pouring core range favourites. We loved Prancing Pony’s pilsner – the crisp flavour was perfect for a hot summer day. While Kaiju served up a bit of silliness with a Golden Axe Cider slushy topped with pop rocks.
For those with more experimental tastes, it was still possible to sample a number of unique beers. Sailor’s Grave poured a preview of their new Summer Farmhouse Ale – brewed with strawberry and rhubarb and dry hopped with wild foraged fennel pollen. Pirate Life was also on the strawberry train with their barrel aged Strawberry IIPA.
The event managed to hit a sweet spot – it was warm and shady, the atmosphere was lively and it wasn’t over crowded. The cost of the festival can add up for out of town visitors with the price of tickets, tokens, and trains. But the payoff was delightful summer excursion.
Jenny Schmidt is an event adventurer and loves the magic of fermentation.
Keep up to date with the Ballarat Beer Festival here.