Canberra Craft Beer and Cider Festival

15 Apr

Just a month after the Small Brewers Beer Festival at the Botanic Gardens, we arrive bright and early to the Canberra Craft Beer and Cider Festival at the Mercure.

It’s a gorgeous, sunny Autumn day with the perfect temperature for an outdoor event. The Festival opens at 11am and we’re there at 11.05, with what our friend describes as a ‘cavalcade of wives dropping their husbands off’. It’s a fair description to start with, but there’s still plenty of female representation. Like the Small Brewers Fest, we get 10 tabs (which we trade for beers) for our $25 (plus booking fee, which ended up being around $28, or $35 at the door) and a small cup and walk into the already busy courtyard, where the brewers are set up over a few levels.

2013-04-13 12.23.19

We spot Matsos Brewery first – which had the popular mango fusion beer at the Small Brewers Fest. This time they’ve got lime cider, and it’s that right combination of sweet, tart and cold. The ciders are poured straight from bottle; the only problem is they forgot their bottle opener!

We next try the Centennial Beer from Sydney Brewery. It seems unCanberran, but I don’t like it. It’s dark and bitter – it’s like the bitterness spikes my tastebuds – and simply hard to drink. The aftertaste makes the experience last far too long. I feel like it knocks me around a little and it’s not surprising to see why, at 6.5%!

Sydney Brewery

Sydney Brewery

With the Centennial Beer

With the Centennial Beer

The IPA from Mudgee Brewery gives some welcome relief; while still bitter, it’s lighter and tastier.

Mudgee IPA

Mudgee IPA

I really enjoy the Matilda Bay IGP cloudy ale. It’s crisp and very, very easy to drink.

At the Matila Bay stand

At the Matila Bay stand

The Two Elk Swedish Cider has clever marketing – they give out stickers with their Facebook and Twitter details – but it’s their product which wows us. The apple and berries and lime cider that I and Boyfriend have respectively are so delicious – the best cider I’ve had. Better than Rekorderlig (big call). They have a special of a $50 case (normally $90) delivered free, and we later go back and order a mixed case. It is that good. (If you’re interested in trying it, it’s stocked at the wonderful Ainslie Cellars, as well as plenty of other smaller Canberra liquor stores.)

2013-04-13 12.00.35

Two Elk apple cider

Two Elk apple cider

Two Elk lime and berries cider

Two Elk lime and berries cider

The tasting goes downhill from here, mostly because we have taken for granted that our small cups will be filled to the brim. In quick succession we get half or 2/3 ‘glasses’ of beer and cider. Bilpin Cider‘s apple cider is a lovely, fresh mix of pink lady and red delicious apples from the Blue Mountains (but it’s not as good at Two Elk, of course), but we spend more time talking about what’s going on with the half glass.

Pouring at Bilpin

Pouring at Bilpin

Without a sip - where is the rest of the Bilpin Cider?

Without a sip – where is the rest of the Bilpin Cider?

We then experience the same with its neighbour, Quiet Deeds, and their pale ale.

Quiet Deeds

Quiet Deeds

Mountain Goat, on Bilpin’s other side, also does similar to an extent, but their Two Step cider is pretty damn tasty, so they’re almost forgiven. Almost.

Two Step cider

Two Step cider

I find the IPA from Hopdog is bitter and average. (I think it’s more just that I don’t like IPA!)

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2013-04-13 12.35.55

We finish off with apple cider from Hills Cider, which, like Bilpin, is marketed as all natural. It’s again very fresh and light, but nothing on Two Elk.

It’s a lovely day at the Mercure and seemed to be a slightly more professional operation than the Small Brewers Festival. There’s quite a few shady spots, food’s available, and there’s a decent water station. Unlike the Small Brewers Festival, the lines don’t ever seem too long – instead of 20 deep, it never seems to be more than 2 or 3 – at least at the start of the day. Rather than getting a beer and then having to line up again straight away, there’s a lot more of a sense of hanging out and enjoying the day and mingling. The only downside was that we had to leave at 1pm to catch a flight!

Date: Saturday, 13 April from 11am to 6pm

Cost: $25 each + booking fee (or $35 at the door)

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

Want more? Website is here, as well as Facebook page

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8 Responses to “Canberra Craft Beer and Cider Festival”

  1. Johan Axlund April 17, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    Thanks for your great comments about our cider! Fantastic article, glad you enjoyed Two ELK so much. Let me know if you need any further info or samples ;). Thanks again, Johan, Director, Two ELK Cider.

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