Newcastle Beerfest 2020 showcases Indie craft beer

First and foremost Beer Fest, is an independent craft beer trade show shining a light on the many awesome craft breweries operating locally and across Australia.

CHEERS: Beer Fest organisers Luke Tilse and Taiyo Nabu are excited about the way the Hunter is embracing their event and appreciating the quality of craft beer available.

CHEERS: Beer Fest organisers Luke Tilse and Taiyo Nabu are excited about the way the Hunter is embracing their event and appreciating the quality of craft beer available.

HAPPY CAMPERS: Newcastle Beer Fest 2020 offers the perfect family friendly mix of premium independent craft beers, great food and cool music right in the heart of town on the beach and harbour.

HAPPY CAMPERS: Newcastle Beer Fest 2020 offers the perfect family friendly mix of premium independent craft beers, great food and cool music right in the heart of town on the beach and harbour.

Newcastle Beer Fest returns to the harbour foreshore for the seventh year running on March 21, and for organisers Luke Tilse and Taiyo Namba, it feels like Christmas.

Or Easter, or any other familiar time of year that gets you excited.

"Beerfest has been embraced by the community," Luke said. "A month and a half out, we've sold more tickets in advance to Beer Fest 2020 than we ever have.

"People are putting it on their 'to do' list and it's become a drawcard that showcases craft beer, the city and everything good it has to offer."

First and foremost Beer Fest, is an independent craft beer trade show shining a light on the many awesome craft breweries operating locally and across Australia.

This year there will be over 43 brewers on site, an increase of 10 on last year, each offering a range of beers to taste. Local brewers will include Foghorn Brewhouse, which will have it's own focus tent and lounges.

"FogHorn Brewery is really excited to be part of Newcastle Beer Fest again this year, and even more excited to have a bigger presence than ever before," Foghorn head brewer Shawn Sherlock said.

"We'll be pouring at least six of our brews and will be bringing a few of our brewery friends along with us from out of town. Can't wait for what will be an epic local event."

Other local outfits in attendance include Shout Brewing from Mayfield, MaltnHops from Beresfield, Styx based out of Carrington, Murray's Brewery and Hope Estate to name a few.

"All up I think there will be about 15 local breweries and cideries attending plus another 30 or more from around Australia," Luke said.

"We're absolutely determined to keep it as an Indie beer trade show.

"The major breweries have taken over many labels that people might associate with mainstream craft beer, but we're all about the small business brewer, locally based, employing locals."

A recent industry report highlighted that the major brewers in Australia account for over 85 per cent of sales and employ 58% of people in the industry.

On the flip side of that, Independent craft beer makes up just 3.4 per cent of sales volume but employs the remaining 41 per cent of the industry which we think is huge. We want to support that.

"These are passionate people producing super high quality beer and providing jobs locally - it's a feedback loop that supports the local economy," Luke said.

"We're part of that economy in that both Taiyo and myself offer Indie beer at our venues [Taiyo operates Nagisa Japanese Restaurant on Honeysuckle and Susuru while Luke owns and runs the Happy Wombat on Hunter Street, and Tilse's Apple Truck Cider].

"There's a real community of independent craft brewers, bottle shops, and venues. Festivals like this are about promoting all Indie beer so that in that way, all ships rise."

The festival is structured to promote tasting a lot of different beers.

"It's not a 'swill the same beer all day' type of event," Taiyo said. "With Newy Beer Fest, unlike other beer festivals, we factor food into the ticket price. A hundred per cent of attendees get to eat as part of their ticket and we aim to do as good a job on the food as we do the beer.

"That's why we've bumped up the range of food vans available on site this year from four to six offering a world of tastes.

"We've got Bao Brothers (trademark bao buns), Mexican Cantina (nacho, burritos and tacos), Fritz's Weiners (mouthwatering smoked bratwurst on buns), Coastal Catering (burgers), Hawker Hero (Asian) and Susuru (delicious ramen and gyoza).

"It's important to feed the masses and demand is always high. We work hard to streamline production and ensure food is fresh and delivered on demand."

Beerfest is famously family friendly and nothing changes this year.

"We get a lot of families which is really cool and we cater to their needs too," Luke said. "Last year we put in Tumbletown, which is this big climbing area for the kids, and we weren't sure how it would go but we saw it worked really well and we were stoked, so it's back this year.

"The kids can play, Mum and Dad could chill out, keep an eye on proceedings while sipping a few brews and having a bite.

"It's a big selling point for Beerfest actually - keeping it family friendly and offering options for everyone."

Capping off the picture is the entertainment, and what better way to top off the afternoon than a performance from amazing soul diva Lisa Hunt who is back at Beerfest for her third year running.

"She really knows how to get a crowd going and frankly, people are amazed just how good she is," Taiyo said.

"She's based up in Byron Bay and as such I don't think a lot of the Sydney brewers have seen her before. But when they hear her and the band crank out their tasty mix of motown, soul, funk and disco, mate it blows their mind.

"She gets the crowd up and dancing that's for sure.

"We'll have a couple of other performers on the bill warming the stage up for Lisa, providing a great festival vibe."

Ticket sales have been strong and demand on the day will be boosted by the arrival of two cruise ships into Newcastle Harbour on the day.

"The cruise ships have notified us of their arrival and it's going to work in amazingly well," Taiyo said. "It will be very cool for them actually - imagine, you're on a boat pulling into harbour and you sail past a craft beer festival on the shore five minutes from disembarkation right next to the beach. You can't get a much better introduction to the city than that!

"There's potentially three to four thousand people on the boats so we'll be keeping a few hundred tickets on the gate, as we do each year, because Beerfest has that 'walk-up' factor too.

"People see there's something on and because it's an afternoon event, it works in well to for people looking for something spontaneous.

"It's right in the heart of town, low impact, a great springboard right next to the beach - it's a no-brainer really."

Newcastle Beer Fest 2020 runs Saturday, March 21 from 11am to 5pm at Camp Shortland opposite Nobbys Beach and the harbour. For more information and to book tickets, visit www.newcastlebeerfest.com.au.

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