First published on 8 May 2013. Updated on 8 May 2013.
Birra Del Borgo, Leonardo di Vicenzo (pictured)
Italy is such a gastronomic powerhouse that it’s almost embarrassing to see their beer culture reduced to shrug-worthy mass-market lagers like Peroni and Moretti. Thankfully, a rising tide of Italian craft brewers are reviving their legacy. At the forefront is founder and head brewer of Birra del Borgo, Leonardo di Vicenzo.
Di Vicenzo is visiting Australia for the second time this year following sell-out events in Perth and Sydney in February. And he’ll be bringing his mix of traditional brews, far-out experiments (Oyster stout, Champagne-style beer or Chestnut ale anyone?) and lively collaborations to four events, including two food-and-beer degustations.
Sample his brews and say ciao at Prince Wine & Spirits on May 21, Slowbeer’s Collaboration and Celebration event on May 24, or have get yours paired with the finest of food at Grossi Florentino’s degustation dinner on May 21 and Virginia Plain’s Mega Dega on May 19.
Essentially, if you’re in the presence of di Vicenzo during Good Beer Week, you’re guaranteed to be in a good spot.
Feral, Brendan Varis
Feral’s Hop Hog IPA has scooped up awards across the world and is ever-present on the lips (both audibly and actually) of the nation’s beer nerds. There’s a reason it is the only beer mentioned by name – twice, in fact – in Good Beer Week’s witty ‘Shit Beer Geeks Say’ video. So we want to meet the down-to-earth Brendan Varis to give him yet another high five.
While Hop Hog bathes in adulation, Feral is doing some fine work with other styles as the Reigning Champion Large Australian Brewery. Feral White is a worthy contender against the bulwark of Hoegaarden, their Belgian IPA is rightfully rich and boozy, and their Smoked Porter does what is says on the label – it’s smooth and peaty.
Varis’ beers will be humbly accepting plaudits at Richmond’s Royston Hotel during WA Pint Of Origin, the IPA and curry night at North Fitzroy’s Horn Please on May 21, and at the Best Of Oz events at Werribee’s Park Hotel.
Yeastie Boys, Stu McKinlay and Sam Possenniskie
Most in the know are looking forward to meeting Kiwi brewers Yeastie Boys to see another instalment in Stu McKinlay’s colourful wardrobe of pants. He’s actually been encouraging the adoption of ‘beer and pants matching’. It has yet to catch on.
These lurid strides are indicative of Yeastie Boys approach to beer-making: adventurous and fun. Stu and Sam have a litany of brews behind them, all with quixotic names and a rebellious attitude. If other brewers are playing the hops and ABV arms race, Yeastie Boys will release the 3.7% Ordinary Bitter ‘Punkadiddle’, named after a Mike Oldfield tune.
Their risks have paid off, nabbing international awards and securing a devoted following. They’re defending their Best Beer title at this year’s Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, and McKinley will be showcasing his brewing chops at Yarraville’s Grain And Grape for System Wars on May 18.
Sideshow, Clyde D'Angelis
When we first tried Sideshow Brewer’s Ticket Booth American Pale Ale – peppery, with a finely foamy mouthfeel, precise bitterness and bold fruit tang – we proclaimed it the finest pale of recent times and wanted more. But we couldn’t.
Ticket Booth, you see, is merely the entry beer to the Sideshow circus (geddit?) from long-time suburban Melbourne home brewer Clyde D’Angelis. The first thing we want to say when we meet him is “Clyde, make some more beers!”
Thankfully, he already has plans. While Ticket Booth is a perfectly balanced shot at Yankee Pale, brewed at Kooinda, D’Angelis promises to go wild in the future with Strawberry Blondes and Chocolate Milk Porters.
Ticket Booth goes up against big(ger) boys like Mountain Goat and 3 Ravens at the Melbourne City Beer Cup, hosted by Thornbury’s Carwyn Cellars on May 22.
Wig & Pen, Richard Watkins
Any ACT brewer winning gongs at the Australian International Beer Awards would mean it’s punching above its weight. Last year, Canberra’s brewpub Wig & Pen scored ten silver and bronze medals and was declared Champion Small Australian Brewery. It’s a giant-killer.
Watkins swamped the awards with 14 beers, and pours 16 in the nation’s capital, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any outside an award ceremony. They aren’t yet bottling so the only way you can try their acclaimed brews – bold broadsides like the year-in-the-making Russian Imperial Stout and a truffle-and-brandied-cumquat-infused Old English Ale – is at Good Beer Week.
Track Wig & Pen down at the ACT Pint Of Origin venue, North Melbourne’s Courthouse Hotel (particularly at the 666 dinner event on May 21), and their part in the international all-star food and beer extravaganza Mega Dega on May 19, hosted by Virginia Plain in Flinders Lane.
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