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Other than a few teasing spots of rain early on, the weather gods behaved for the first Beers By The Bay festival on the Mornington Peninsula at the weekend. Around 20 breweries and cider producers lined the picturesque site at Mornington Racecourse as beer lovers and newcomers to craft beer alike gathered to sample their wares.
Numbers fell short of the organisers’ initial estimates, but still numbered more than 2,000, enough to ensure there was a convivial atmosphere in which to choose from around 100 beers. It also meant there was time, more often than not, to stop and chat to the brewers and brewery reps pouring the beers.
With exhibitors including the likes of craft beer pioneers such as Mountain Goat, Prickly Moses, Grand Ridge and Holgate as well as newer arrivals on the scene, including Tooborac Hotel & Brewery and Southern Bay, there was a good selection on offer, including limited release beers such as Kooinda’s meaty new 7.5 per cent IPA, the Hop Transfusion.
Two of the region’s local brewers, Red Hill and Mornington Peninsula Brewery, had joined forces to create a festival beer, the Bleak Piracy Black Rye IPA, with the latter donning eye patches to complete the effect. The beer’s brewers joined The Crafty Pint onstage with event MC James Brayshaw, while others from the likes of Holgate, True South and Cavalier fielded our questions on the Education Stage. It was there that Paul Mercurio held court with a couple of Cooking with Beer sessions, while there was also a demonstration of home brewing.
Also entertaining the crowds was Prof Pilsner, AKA Pete Mitcham of Beer Blokes and Brews News, who at one point challenged James Brayshaw, a beer rep and a punter to a blind tasting. Impressively for someone who confessed to not having the greatest beer knowledge beforehand, the Footy Show host picked two of the three (Prickly Moses Blueberry Hefeweizen and Bleak Piracy) although was stumped by the zinger – Kooinda’s Karakaberry Witbier.
For hardened craft beer lovers, there was little new on the beer front. Instead, the satisfaction would have been gained from enjoying beers at a festival that Pete told crowds could never have existed just a few years ago. Following in the footsteps of the hugely successful Ballarat Beer Festival earlier in the year, it gave the beer industry a chance to show off their goods to new faces. That they were new faces was highlighted during the Q&A sessions we hosted, where very few in the audience had previously heard of any of the breweries we brought up on stage.
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