The Beer & BBQ Festival has become an iconic winter’s celebration over the past five years since its inception in 2014. With over 80 brewers showcasing their drops, the Adelaide Showgrounds truly is transformed into a mecca for liquid gold lovers and barbecue enthusiasts…even for vegans too with meat-like options scattered around the grounds over its three-day span.
Beer isn’t your kind of thing, you say? Well not to worry, the biggest lineup of brewers in Australia all came prepared with cider, wine, gin and bourbon on offer…and alcoholic kombucha too! And if alcohol isn’t your kind of thing all together, the festivities extend to an exclusive musical concoction of local, national and international acts – DJ Yella from N.W.A being this year’s headline artist.
We went along to check out the vibes and an assortment of beverages that caught our eye – here are the standouts and what we thought.
In South Australia’s (SA) infamous southern wine region of McLaren Vale, Vale Brewing produces a range of lager, IPA and amber, and experiment with short batches of EXPs and limited editions. We tried their new Tropic Ale – a pale variety with a 4.2 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) and 22 IBU (International Bitterness Units). This ale is extremely easy to drink with fruity notes making for a light, summery experience. It’s soft on the taste buds and proved to be pleasantly refreshing even on a seven degree evening. Quite sessionable, one may say.
Heading north this time, sits another one of SA’s famed wine regions – the Barossa Valley, home to Western Ridge Brewing Collective. Western Ridge were serving their exclusive Yet Another F*****g Punch In The Face, only available at this year’s Beer & BBQ Festival, and holy moly this beer really is something else. This multi specie ferment is a Triple Galaxy Warrior Mosaic with a 13 percent ABV and 100 IBU, with 30 grams of hops per litre, no added enzymes and 100 percent malt. The brew is super dark, with an almost thick-like quality, and bitterness which is almost quite literally off the charts. It definitely packs a punch and will have you raising both eyebrows on the first, and possibly second sip – an unforgettable beer.
Moving away from beer, we tried one of K.Booch Alcoholic Kombucha Co’s offerings. From the choice of four, the Pineapple & Watermelon option stood out amongst the difficult decision at hand. With a shot of gin and a 4 percent ABV, this ‘booch barely tastes alcoholic at all, which we genuinely did not mind. If you’re not a huge fan of bitterness, this one is for you, as traces were not detected – at least by our tastebuds! Think of sour liquorice combined with fizzy cordial flavours, all whilst maintaining a natural ingredient profile. This drink was simply delicious, and we definitely wouldn’t mind one on a summer’s days at the beach or by the pool.
Back to the beer side of things, we sought out Shifty Lizard Brewing Co. of Willunga, SA. We couldn’t go past their vibrant stall, glistening with colourful, animated artwork pressed across their labels. Each bottle showcases a unique character, and we were drawn to their bright pink Rose of Sharon. This IPA is a 6.3 percent ABV brew, which is deceivingly more bitter than it looks. The rich pink hue of the beer appears to be quite delicate on the outside, but on the inside it is earthy as anything. It maintains a natural profile, with floral notes from the added hibiscus flowers, all whilst hitting us with sour undertones. It’s nice, it’s unusual, it’s different.
We had a quick chat with Shifty Lizard Ambassador, Aaron Campbell, who shared his thoughts about the 2019 Beer & BBQ Festival – “It’s great for the industry and it’s fantastic exposure for small breweries. It’s also a great experience for craft beer drinkers who get to try a large range all in one weekend.” Can’t argue with that!
The Beer & BBQ Festival proved to be a unique affair, with vendors seemingly full of passion for their brews. The huge crowd attendance at this year’s festival is truly a statement to the lengths Adeladians will go to get their hands on the finest pints in town, in rain, mud and gale force winds.
Words by Dale Anninos-Carter