13 of Australia's best beer festivals every brew lover needs to try

The GABS Beer, Cider and Food Fest has wrapped for another year, attracting almost 35,000 attendees across Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland.

Named one of the world's top 20 beer festivals by US magazine The Beer Connoisseur, GABS has rightly become the standard by which all other Aussie beer festivals are judged.

But there's no need to cry into your tulip glass at the prospect of waiting another 12 months for your dose of festival good times.

For just as the numbers of breweries across Australia continue to multiply, so too do the beer festivals that celebrate their fine wares.

Some weary brewers even suggest that the festival calendar is too packed. So if you're going to bring a new product to market, better make sure it's not a 'me too' affair.

Animal affair 

Enter Zoo Brew, which runs between July 21 and 23 at Sydney's Taronga Centre, an unprecedented (and probably unrivalled) venue for a beer festival.

"Where else could you stand on a beautiful terrace and enjoy a cold beer while overlooking Sydney Harbour, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and of course Taronga Zoo?" says festival director Patrick Maher, Taronga Centre's general manager.

"Festival-goers will be able to taste the delights of some of Australia's most recognised breweries, some undiscovered gems, and top gourmet food favourites that we have gathered in one truly amazing location."

Also in the coming weeks is the Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival, certainly the quirkiest celebration on the beer and cider industry calendar, with its pagan 'wassailing' ritual that aims to scare the evil spirits out of the orchard to ensure a bumper autumn crop.


Championing cider from Willie Smith's and beers from Church Hill Brewery, Hobart Brewing Company and Moo Brew, festival organisers encourage fancy dress inspired by pagan traditions, the earth and all its elements, the changing seasons and traditional Morris dancing costumes.

Meeting of passions

On the agenda between July 28 and 30 is the third iteration of the Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival, a visionary event combining Australians' favourite pastimes of beers, barbecue and live music.

"We will be showcasing the best of South Australian, Australian and international beer & cider with over 50 exhibitors, along with some of SA's best restaurants and chefs cooking up a BBQ storm… [and] some very special interstate and international BBQers," organisers say.

Later in the year, another event that should be on your radar is Sydney Beer Week (formerly Sydney Craft Beer Week), which runs from October 20-29 and has expanded its horizons across New South Wales under its enthusiastic new ownership.

"It's becoming a greater Sydney and even regional NSW festival, not just Sydney CBD and inner west. We've got events from Illawarra to Penrith to Forster," says Sydney Beer Week general manager Liam Pereira.

"We've really ramped up the opening gala this year, it's on a much bigger scale to what's been done in previous years. It's going to be held at the Sydney Maritime Museum, right on Sydney Harbour."

So, it's time to get planning your beer and cider festival agenda for the next 12 months.

Scroll through the gallery above for some of the events that should definitely be in the reckoning. How many have you attended?