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Darwin is set to host its first craft beer festival later this month. The Darwin Beer Festival takes over the city’s spectacular waterfront Convention Centre, with more than 80 craft beers and ciders from 25 Australian producers on show. The event, which is being run by the Micro Beer Club, also features live entertainment, a beer garden created especially for the weekend and a stage hosting demos on food and beer matching.
The two-day festival on June 29 and 30 is looking to capitalise on a growing interest in craft beer in the Territory. On The Crafty Pint’s last visit to the Top End we met with a rep from James Squire, the festival’s main sponsor, who said they were experiencing a significant rise sales in the city, while a new venue with a craft focus, The Precinct, has hosted a number of craft beer dinners since opening late last year and now has eight taps pouring craft beer and around 80 bottles in its fridges.
“We looked at Darwin and thought there was an untapped market,” says Paul Lukins, from the Micro Beer Club. “We’re supplying craft beer to The Precinct, which was the first bar there to embrace craft beer, and thought, ‘Why not do a festival?’
“From a Micro Beer Club point of view it was a natural progression as we’re already supplying beer there through the club and have held dinners with the likes of Paul Mercurio and some sporting figures. [Craft beer] is moving forward, with a couple of other bars now putting it on tap, so it’s definitely starting to bubble away.”
With James Squire on board as a major sponsor (they will operate the main bar in the centre of the festival), the organisers have persuaded around half of the breweries whose beers are being showcased to fly north for the event. That means punters can expect to find the likes of Dave Bonighton (Mountain Goat), Eric Walters (Grand Ridge) and Shawn Sherlock (Murray’s) pouring their own beers, while Chris Badenoch will be there serving Boneyard Brewing beers as well as hosting a pre-event dinner. Attendees will also be able to sample 15 beers originally debuted at last month’s Great Australasian Beer Spectapular in Melbourne.
“We’re hoping to attract 3,000 people over the two days,” says Paul. “If you look at the stats, Darwin has the the biggest beer drinkers per capita. It’s also dry season so the weather’s good and there’s nothing else on in the city that weekend.”
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