The original home of craft beer, the Australian Heritage in The Rocks specialises in Australian beers, ciders and wines, and this year’s festival – taking place 16-18 October – puts crafted brews and the brewers themselves in the face of discerning festival-goers.
The popular ‘Meet The Brewer’ sessions and blind tastings will take place again this year. The Australian’s head beer sommelier, Seonaid Arthur, told PubTIC these events are great for the little guys.
“In the blind tastings, patrons’ impressions are not compromised by branding, or what they already know, so it’s a good way to expand people’s tastes, and shows the importance of branding and labelling.
“We pit experts from two breweries, to showcase several beers they have brought to the festival. It’s great for the little guys, who aren’t always as focused on the packaging and branding. It gives them a great opportunity to stand out. The Festival has opened a lot of doors for brewers.”
As the modern incarnation of the wine expert, the Australian’s beer sommeliers strive to challenge and expand consumers’ tastes and knowledge of the dynamic market.
“Getting patrons to taste something is far easier than trying to tell them about it,” says Arthur.
“I usually ask ‘What do you taste?’ as everyone’s palate is different, and beer is very subjective, which I think is why it is growing faster than any other liquor category.
“From that I can help identify what it is they like and suggest complementary brews. This makes consumers feel welcome and part of the conversation. It says ‘there’s a beer for me’.
“I often start by asking what they usually drink. Beer is a huge passion of mine, and with background on many styles I can expand on their ‘usual’ and challenge them a bit.”
The Short family’s side-by-side Australian Heritage and Glenmore Hotels are located in Sydney’s tourist heartland, just a few miles from the growing brewer mecca of Newtown & Alexandria. Arthur says people are amazed at the culture that is evolving.
“They love that there are so many local brewers they’ve never even heard of.
“It’s exciting. They feel part of the community. I think that’s why the Sydney market is really booming.”
The 11th Annual Australian Beer Festival will see staff determine the winner of the prestigious Geoff Scharer* Best Overall Beer award and Best Cider, and festival-goers determine the People’s Choice Award. Entry is free.
*In memory of pioneering craft brewer Geoff Scharer