Quench your thirst at Ballarat Beer Festival, the huge booze extravaganza going down next month

Quench your thirst at Ballarat Beer Festival, the huge booze extravaganza going down next month

Words by Talia Rinaldo

We give you the full rundown of the festival’s 2021 proceedings.

It’s almost impossible to pass up a beer festival at the best of times, but when there’s one only 90 minutes drive from you – offering up to 200 craft beers and ciders – attendance is essential.

That’s right beer lovers, the Ballarat Beer Festival is back for 2021 and it’s going to quench your thirst in a big way.

What you need to know 

  • Ballarat Beer Festival will run across two separate sessions on Saturday February 20
  • The family-friendly festival sports nearly 40 of Australia’s leading craft beer brewers
  • Some of the beer creators strutting their stuff include Red Duck Beer, Aunty Jacks, Shedshaker Brewery and Grampians Ale Works

Keep up with the latest festival news via our website.

Returning for its tenth year (which is worthy of a beer itself), the Ballarat Beer Festival will take to Ballarat’s beautiful Northern Gardens on Saturday February 20, turning the space into a craft beer lover’s paradise.

Each year, the family-friendly festival is filled with almost 40 of Australia’s leading craft beer brewers, giving the crowds – and the craft beer enthusiasts – the chance to sample a tonne of delicious (and some quite adventurous) craft beers and ciders.

As a way of forging ahead, but still adhering to capacity limits and COVID-safe guidelines, the event will be split across two sessions. The first session will run from 12pm to 4pm with the second session running from 5pm to 9pm. Due to the current restrictions, there will be a limited number of tickets available, including a small number of all-day passes. This will be a hot ticket so don’t sleep!

Tickets are on sale and for less than $40, you’ll get your festival ticket, an official tasting glass, a lanyard to hold your beer as well as access to all the events and beers. The festival is cashless this year too, so all you’ll need is your card.

Here’s a rundown of what you can expect on the day.

The brewers

This year we’ll be tasting brews from locals at Red Duck Beer and Aunty Jacks, as well as a few of our favourites such as Blackman’s Brewery, Shedshaker Brewery, Grampians Ale Works, Wild Life Brewing Co from Shepparton, and Koroit’s Noodledoof Brewing Co.

Other brewers coming from right across Victoria this year include Bright Brewery, Bilson’s Brewery from Beechworth, Local Brewing Co from Melbourne, Green Gully Brewing from Phillip Island, Main Ridge’s Cheeky Rascal Cider, Colonial Brewing Co from Port Melbourne, and Dandenong favourites KAIJU! Beer.

Alongside these local legends, BentSpoke Brewing Co will be making the trip from Canberra.

That’s just the start. With plenty more brewers making their way to the gardens next month, this really will be the ultimate boulevard of beers.

The food

Mixed in with many of Australia’s finest large, small and emerging independent breweries, you’ll find a dozen food stalls all serving up global culinary delights you can match with your favourite brews – and with a big day of tasting, you’ll need your energy.

There’ll be everything from Doin’ Dumplings, Ice Indulgence, Smokehouse 720, Opa Greek Street Food, to Whataburger, Tim’s Toasties, The Forge Pizzeria, and even It’s Time 4 Coffee, if you’re that way inclined.

The music

While beer lovers are in for a treat, so are the music lovers. This year’s lineup features ’60s R&B, garage, freakbeat and psychedelia trio Thee Marshmallow Overcoat, blues-soul rockers Werewolves, singer-songwriter Michael Meeking, Melbourne blues institution Blues Roulette, and electrifying five-piece Riflebirds.

Rocking out to music in the sunshine while sipping on fresh beer… say no more.

Educate yourself

Don’t be fooled, the festival isn’t just about drinking (unless you want it to be). As part of the festival, there will also be a series of free seminars across the day with the esteemed Professor Pilsner and Beer Diva, giving beer lovers the opportunity to meet and mingle with the brains behind the brands, suss out some sweet beer challenges and take part in a VIP masterclass with Colonial Brewing Co.

Prizes and samples will be on offer throughout the day so make sure you pop by and learn a thing or two.

Lastly, logistics

Ballarat is 90 minutes up the road from Melbourne, so you can drive up in the morning of the festival easy enough. If you need to park your car, there are plenty of free parking spots within walking distance of the event.

If you can’t find someone willing to be the designated driver for the day, hit up public transport from Southern Cross Station on the V/Line. This will take you directly into the heart of town. The gardens are then about a ten minute walk from the station; you can also just catch a cab or an Uber there. Alternatively, round up a crew and all pitch in for an Airbnb or apartment in town. Easy-peasy.

We should also mention that the event is kid-friendly too, in case you can’t find a babysitter for the weekend. With a dedicated Kids Zone, the festival will see the return of the animal petting farm, face painting and a craft workspace for kids to get creative.

Ballarat Beer Festival hits Northern Gardens on Saturday February 20. Grab your tickets here and check out the festival website here.