Canberra Beer Day Out

10 Nov

Canberra Beer Day Out starts at 2pm. We arrive at 2.05pm and there’ s a line to the entrance. Seriously? The line isn’t made up of people there to buy tickets – almost the entire line is people who have printed their Moshtix pre-paid ticket. The line doesn’t move. There’s a certain schadenfreude in watching people arrive and attempt to skip the line with their pre-paid tickets. Sorry folks – join us!

 

We make it to the front and realise the problem. Of the four windows open for the pre-paid ticket holders, just one window has a scanner for the tix – the rest are entering them in manually! Sheesh. Fortunately, once we’re in things decidedly improve.

It’s apparent that for all its promises, Beer Day Out is basically the same as the other beer tasting events throughout the year, including the Small Brewers Beer Fests in March and September, and the Craft Beer and Cider Festival at Olims in April. The differences are a) it’s more expensive b) it’s bigger c) the venue is better d) there food options are much better and e) there’s a world record beer house being built.

Stupidly big line just after the gates open

Stupidly big line just after the gates open

We’ve got the early bird tickets – $45 equates to a $15 entry fee and $30 worth of vouchers. It’s a little sneaky, though. Each beer stall has been allowed (?) to choose their own ‘price’ for a taste of a 285ml middy of beer. It’s mostly 2 beer tabs (or $2) for a taster of beer, of 5 beer tabs ($5) for a 285ml. Some cheeky stalls have the 285ml prices jacked right up around 12 or 15 tabs/dollars (usually for those with a higher alcohol percentage – but still!).

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It’s going to be an expensive day. We start at the Feral / Nail Brewing stands and sample what is essentially Nail Brewery’s summer ale. It’s easy to down.

Feral / Nail Brewery stand

Feral / Nail Brewery stand

Music plays pretty softly and people arrive very slowly for about two hours – no doubt due to the slowness of the scanner. There’s a huge influx between 3.30 and 4 – I’m not sure what happens at the front, but the crowd is huge. From this time on, a band starts up. The band plays songs which are too loud, and doesn’t play them well enough for us to understand what they are. It’s markedly more pleasant when they stop.

Lines go from zero people to plenty of people

Lines go from zero people to plenty of people

There are plenty of tables and seats inside and out, and we nab a table early and hold onto it for the rest of the time we’re there.

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There are plenty of interesting beers on offer. Boyfriend enjoys a ‘taco beer’ from Two Birds, which has flavours of coriander, lime and corn. I can’t taste the corn, but there’s plenty of lime and coriander. I enjoy a ‘Ned Flanders’ from the Rocks Brewing Co (Sydney) – a Belgian ale fermented with pear juice. It’s exactly what it claims to be, with a sweet fruit flavour.

The Rocks Brewing Co

The Rocks Brewing Co

I can’t go past Bridge Road Brewers ‘Ryewhale’ – a take on our very own ‘Skywhale’. It’s exactly as advertised – packed with rye – and I find it undrinkable. I swap with Boyfriend’s Bridge Road Brewers chestnut pilsner – a lovely beer, very rounded flavours with lots going on.

Ryewhale from Bridge Road Brewers

Ryewhale from Bridge Road Brewers

Beer and cider from the Kenyan brewery (Tusker)

Beer and cider from the Kenyan brewery (Tusker)

I don't like IPA generally; this stall doesn't change my mind!

I don’t like IPA generally; this stall doesn’t change my mind!

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A few fellows are spending the afternoon building a beer house. I don’t see it being finished (apparently there was a roof!) but it looks like a good effort!

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Literal wall of beer!

Literal wall of beer!

There’re a range of food offerings, including empanadas and churrascos from a Chile Stall, and kransky rolls from another. Fine dining restaurant Soju Girl (about which I’ve been critical before) does a really good chicken roti for $9.

Soju Girl chicken roti

Soju Girl chicken roti

I know other things have been advertised, including beer and food matching, but there’s no mention of them all throughout the day. It’s not until I take a good look outside that I see there was a Plonk tent dedicated to it. Instead of devoting the sound system to the rather bad band, it could have better been used for announcements about the Beer House and other events.

We're not aware of and thus miss out on all of these events

We’re not aware of and thus miss out on all of these events

Why is she taking a photo of me?

Why is she taking a photo of me?

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Time goes quickly, and we (as well as, it seems, everyone else) buy a few more tickets inside from the Plonk stall. The best beer of the day for me is Feral Brewing’s ‘Sly Fox’.

A table of beer

A table of beer

And the beer drinkers

And the beer drinkers

Too much beer + camera = too many pics

Too much beer + camera = too many pics

Case in point...

Case in point…

It reaches its peak at about 5pm, and it’s genuinely winding down at around 7pm. Some stalls, like Two Birds, pack up entirely.

No more Two Birds

No more Two Birds

It’s definitely the best run beer tasting event we’ve been to this year, but it doesn’t mean there are still lessons to be learnt. On the positive side, they get the food right (not too long to wait), the range of stalls are good and the venue inside is the best so far. On the negative is the band, and the extras like the beer and food matching and rides (kid friendly?) seem to be afterthoughts, and it’s much more expensive than the others. The ticketing system needs a serious review.

That said, I hope this becomes a staple on the Canberra event calendar.

Date: Saturday, 9 November 2013

Cost: $45 each, plus $27 for food, plus more $$ for more beer

Where: Thoroughbred Park

Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile

Want more? Beer Day Out is part of the Canberra Beer Week festivities. Check out the website for more events (noting many of them are soldout!).

9 Responses to “Canberra Beer Day Out”

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