Wow. What a hectic few days...let's see if we can piece together what happened...
Thursday kicked off the long weekend with a fantastic and fast paced 20th Australian Amateur Brewing Championship. Judges from across the country and around the world came together to choose the best of the best, before heading off on the Magical Mystery Tour of Canberra Beer venues.
We stopped at Transit Bar, The Old Parliament House Rose Gardens, The Durham Castle Arms, and Plonk, before arriving at Bentspoke to rub shoulders with those crazy cats from The Brewing Network.
Hazy heads awoke on Friday presented with two days of wise words. We started off on a sensationally sour note with Vinnie Cilurzo warning us to be brave: “Wild yeast it like a dog – it knows you’re afraid of it.” That wasn’t the only warning to be dispensed over the weekend, with John Blichmann’s sage words “No shirt, no shoes, no brains.” reminding us what boiling water and caustic can do.
John Keeling gave us a few history lessons, not just about Fuller’s beer, but about its role in bringing Wisteria to England and its patriotic honour as Hitler’s number three London bombing target during World War Two.
Michael Fairbrother generously shared six of his delicious meads (ensuring that the the next AABC’s will be flooded with great homebrewed versions), before giving us some creative ideas for meeting food safety standards around second hand barrels.
Meanwhile, upstairs, Tina Panoutsos provided another set of packed out sensory sessions, sharing with us both evaluation tips and the pain that all beer aficionados feel all too often: when your spouse tells you to "just effin’ drink it".
The evenings were just as packed. The Gala Dinner featured four mouth watering courses and seven delicious beers. We viewed a great selection of Australian beer films, before the awards ceremony had medals dropping like golden raindrops and a number of happy placegetters going home with sore necks.
Then there was Club Night…Words cannot do Club Night justice. That’s why we made sure everyone provided us a mugshot.
We'd love to know what you thought of the conference! What went well? What could be improved? Who should we get for ANHC Five? Let us know here.
Some of you couldn’t make it to Canberra, some couldn’t make it out of bed, and some of you were just too distracted by all the great beer. Whatever your reason, all those great quotes above are just a glimpse of what we learnt over the weekend.
Photos are up now on Flickr and Facebook, but there's more coming...we recorded the whole thing and will be providing podcasts and presentation slides soon – keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter for more information. Our friends at The Brewing Network also filmed a bunch of sessions, so keep an eye out for that, too!
This year our sponsors hall grew even bigger, with Grain and Grape, GrainFather, Mangrove Jacks, GoTafe, NewEra Brewing, Spark Brew Engineering, Core Brewing Concepts, Bintani, Blichmann Engineering and Keg King all coming along to show off their wares. Piles of fantastic prizes were given away, and the smiles on the winner’s faces were huge.
All of the conference and competition sponsors are the backbone of ANHC. Without them, we don’t exist, so get out there and show your support!
We met a lot of crazy brewers over the weekend, but that’s a good thing. After all, John Keeling put it best when he said “for beer with character, you need characters brewing it.”
So here’s to all the brewing characters out there. We couldn’t do it without you.