Posted: 5 Feb 2015

A critic’s guide to the best craft beer in Geelong

Beer judge Pete Mitcham

Geelong will officially become the nation’s beer-drinking capital on February 21 when the Great Australian Beer Festival descends on the Geelong Racecourse.

More than 200 craft beers and ciders will be available to sample on the day, along with delicious food from the Geelong region. There will also be expert seminars on all things brewing plus entertainment on three stages, from reggae and jazz to funk and bluegrass. Tickets start at $44, including a commemorative glass.

Beer critic Pete Mitcham will be among the brewing experts sharing their tips and advice on the day. Pete (pictured right) is a big fan of Geelong’s growing craft beer industry. These are his top five in the region.

1. Odyssey’s Calypso Pale Ale

611 Surfcoast Hwy, Mt Duneed, 5264 1333

Winner of the People’s Choice Award at last year’s Great Australian Beer Festival, this beer that stands out in a vast sea of pale ales. The balanced blend of Australian, NZ and US hops gives it a uniqueness that mirrors the region’s distinctive style. It tastes great with anything charred – meat or chicken straight off the barbecue, or even roasted meats. During the GAB Festival, try Odyssey’s pale ale with charred corn from Geelong’s Black Salt Restaurant or braised meat rolls from Odyssey Tavern & Brewery.

2. Blackman’s Brewery Unfiltered Lager

26 Bell St, Torquay, Victoria, 5261 5310

This is a lager with flavour like lagers used to have – unfiltered to retain more of the highlights that subtle malt and a judicious use of bittering hops can provide. It might even be more refreshing and distinctive than the Killer Python Kolsch that brewer Renn Blackman created a few years back using 25kg of multi-coloured lolly pythons. Blackman’s Unfiltered Lager goes down really well with lightly battered seafood. It’s a perfect accompaniment to salt and pepper calamari.

3. Prickly Moses’ Chainsaw wheat beer

Otway Estate, 10 Hoveys Rd, Barongarook, 5233 8400

A must-try Australian Wheat beer, Chainsaw is the beer equivalent of Down Under by Men At Work. The song is subtle with mellow rhythmic malts supporting a crisply overlayed harmony of hop aroma and flavour driven by the clean flute notes of the Australian Ella hop. Like the song, Chainsaw doesn’t want to you to listen too hard, but simply enjoy the music. And it’s a cracker with milder flavours such as grilled chicken or fish, or even a mild brie or cheddar cheese. At the GAB festival, drink it with a chicken souvlaki from Great Street Food Truck or a fresh tomato, cheese and pesto pizza from Sunny’s Pizza.

4. Little Creatures Pale Ale

221 Swanston St, Geelong, 5202 4009

It’s a boon to both the Geelong region and to drinkers of good beer that this iconic Fremantle-born brewer has set up in the old wool mills south of the city. The Pale Ale is the beer that most influenced the new wave of Australian craft brewers with its distinctive hop character and big bold flavour profile. Try the pale ale and pastry combo – a meat pie, a samosa… anything with a light crumbly crust makes a great match for this local ale.

5. Southern Bay Brewing’s Hop Bazooka IPA

80 Point Henry Road, Moolap, 5248 5710

Having brewed beers under many labels for many different brands for 35 years, Southern Bay is stepping out from the shadows and into the limelight with a range of great beers. The Hop Bazooka does just what it says on the bottle – it’s a big, brash hop-forward India Pale Ale, and it goes down a treat with hot and spicy curry. At the GAB festival, try it with Vue Grand’s hop flower-smoked pork dog with Sriracha slaw – the crowd favourite meals on the 2014 festival.

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