By Jonathan Porter
When the winter sun’s shadows lengthened and the daylight hours seem to roll ever closer to the darkness, Adelaide tends to come alive. The city’s small bars and great casual restaurants seem to offer just the right level of cosiness on a crisp afternoon or early evening. Moreover, the food seems heartier and even more inviting.
Bearing this in mind, the organisers of the Adelaide Beer and BBQ Festival have created the ultimate comfort food event. Great local produce cooked over the coals mixed with plenty of a beautiful amber or dark nectar otherwise known as beer.
The Festival also mixes in great music and it is set to become the nation’s premier liquid gold bash.
Moreover, you don’t need to have a beard or sleeve tattoo to attend – just a love of great natural brew and an appreciation of fine ‘cue.
Held over three days from Friday July 10 this year, the shindig showcases the exploding number of South Australian and Australian craft breweries and cideries, as well as international breweries.
The festival will allow visitors to sample local, national and world beers and ciders while enjoying barbecue from local producers as well as masters of tongs and burners from around Australia and the US cooking South Australia’s best fare.
The Festival’s Ambassador Duncan Welgemoed of Adelaide’s stalwart Africola restaurant says this year’s annual liquid amber fiesta at the city’s showgrounds – the bash’s second iteration – will cement the event as the nation’s best beer appreciation knees up.
The South African expat who has a chef father, Portuguese and Italian godparents, and a music addiction — all of which have come together to create his unique cooking ethos – is also curating the barbecue menu for the bacchanal.
“It is already the best,’’ says Welgemoed, adding that it is important for South Australian brewers, and indeed beer craftsmen around the nation, to have an opportunity to showcase their cooling and thirst-slaking liquid wares.
“Especially in South Australia, with there being so much emphasis on wine and wine tastings, it is important to focus on our fantastic brewers.
“It’s a terrific opportunity, particularly our younger brewers, to show everyone what they can do.”
Brewers group’s steep ascent
He singled out plundering South Australian brewers Pirate Life as an example of cutting-edge young brewers responding to the market and producing world-beating beers.
“They are South Australian and they are smashing out incredible lighter style beers that people tend to go with.”
Another of the State’s victories on the micro front has been Prancing Pony, which will also be showcased at the Festival.
They use a method called fire brewing – all the rage in Europe, which Brewer Frank Samson says endows his brews with more depth.
The current range includes Sunshine Ale, Pale Ale, Blonde Ale, Amber Ale, India Red Ale, Black Ale and Copper Ale.
Alistair Turnbull of Lobethal Bierhaus, considered the grandfather of craft beer in South Australia, will be getting in on the act.
On light vs dark beers, Welgemoed says: “Lighter beers go with spice in my opinion, whether it’s African or Asian or even American, I prefer a lighter beer – you don’t feel to feel too full or heavy after smashing about six.”
Award-winning local wholesaler, Richard Gunner from Feast Fine Foods will be the Festival’s Meat Connoisseur, which means he is looking after and supplying all the meat stalls.
Gunner, who started out as a rancher has a network of butcher shops, based on his farm-to-table approach.
The gathering will be boosted by the arrival of the Crafty Container – a 20 foot shipping container with 18 taps pouring beer from a host of different breweries, including New Zealand’s Epic Brewing and others showcased in South Australia.
In conjunction with Welgemoed, the festival will welcome several more amazing local chefs and masters of the grill, including: industrial chic restaurant Street ADL, craft beer and whiskey bar NOLA, as well as US cuisine stand-by Jack Ruby and Gweilo BBQ.
Adelaide cuisine standouts Gilbert Street Hotel, traditional Thai eatery Golden Boy, and the Comida Catering Co will also be on show.
And master Adelaide chocolatier Steven ter Horst has also come on board, in case there weren’t enough calories floating around, to create and serve the perfect BBQ dessert.
In addition to the main stage action, at the Festival the beer hall will see a new DJ stage added on the roof of the Crafty Container with beats played all weekend by some of Adelaide’s finest.
Welgemoed says he is “extremely proud” of Adelaide’s brewers competing in a marketplace that used to be a wholly owned subsidiary of a single craft beer – the mighty Lunatic Soup, known more commonly thereabouts as Coopers.
“It’s a bit tricky for our brewers because you have Coopers here. They dominate the market and overshadow what the little guys are doing.
“Making the step to come out of the Coopers’ shadow and compete is no easy feat.”
He says listening to the market is important, as craft beer – or microbreweries – only make up about 4 per cent of the market which itself is dominated by the industrial liquid giants.
“So you have to be responsive if you are going to compete.”
Welgemoed’s perfect day at the Adelaide Beer and BBQ Festival: “Grab a quick snack to line the stomach then hit all beers.”
He then advises: “Enjoy the excellent music line-up and have a wander over to Rodney Scott cooking his famous pigs then get some more beer and eat and drink until you feel like dancing.”
Tats to beards quotient
Finally I summon the courage to ask him the beard and tats question. Will you be barred if you come with a freshly planed-off phiz and with no ink permanently penetrating your epidermis?
“Yes, all who love beer and barbecue are welcome … just as long as you don’t have a man bun,” he says with a laugh.
Whew! No man bun possessor I, who lacks even an undercut.
Festival manager Gareth Lewis says it is incredibly important to showcase South Australian beer.
South Australia is arguably the fastest growing beer industry in the country, with a “massive explosion” in the number of new brands and more brands opening up than in any other state.
The biggest mover of the past 12 months has been Pirate Life, he says.
“Their core range of double IPAs are through the roof.”
They are third in Craft Beer’s Hottest 100 behind brands Feral’s Hop Hog and Pacific Ale’s Stone and Wood.
Their US West Coast-style beers all come in cans and have “hit the mark” with drinkers, he says.
Divisions in the ranks
He says the Festival has deliberately been divided into different segments to appeal to a range of beer aficionados and while Adelaide is an incubator for the bearded and inked look, he says it is very much “come one, come all”.
“The Festival is for anyone – from an avid beer fanatic to people with a passing interest.”
The Friday night session is for the after-work crowd, he says, with plenty of office workers. Saturday is for beer geeks with talks by brewers, and there is a separate session on Saturday night set aside for party night with a big line-up of entertainment.
“Hopefully it will go smoothly – there are different tickets for each session,” he says.
Sunday has been given the moniker of Snean Sunday – meaning sneakers and jeans.
Enough beer to float a Death Star
Different stalls will showcase beers or ciders and some exhibitors will launch special or one-off brews for the event, which are always gratefully received.
The Festival will be held at the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds just outside the city limits.And there will be plenty of ablutions, because you know, one thing can lead to another when you are eating an insane quantity of pork, fowl, and red meat while consuming enough beer to float a Death Star.
As the largest event of its type in South Australia and with the Festival hosting nearly 8000 guests last year, organisers estimate approximately 15,000 attendees over the three-day event.
As with last year, organisers expect attendees will include beer and food enthusiasts from South Australia and interstate, home brewers, hospitality professionals and the general public.
The remainder of the beer line-up includes 4 Pines (NSW), Barossa Valley, Big Shed, Brooklyn (USA), Clare Valley, Coopers, Grumpy’s, Hoffbrau (Germany), Lady Burra, Moo Brew (Tasmania), Pikes, Stone & Wood (NSW) and Weihenstephan (Germany).
Ciders include Aussie Cider, Barossa Cider Co, Kangaroo Island Ciders, Lobo Cider and Sidewood Cider.
Go the whole hog
As Welgemoed mentioned, legendary pit master Rodney Scott will bring his legendary pig cooking skills all the way from Hemmingway, South Carolina by recreating his famed whole hog smokehouse at the Festival.
His folks, Ella and Roosevelt “Rosie” Scott, opened Scott’s Pit Cook BBQ in 1972, and Rodney still continues their tradition in the same location to this day.
The family secret, according to Rodney, is that “we put a whole lot of love into what we do”.
Hailed by The New York Times and Anthony Bourdain for producing just about the best darned hog in the Carolinas, or South Australia for that matter, portions of the beast (the hog, not Scott) will be available on Saturday and Sunday.
And arguably the finest burgers in the land: Mary’s Burgers, beer, rock’n’roll and bourbon joint will be coming to Adelaide for the first time.
Real-time updates and lineup announcements for music, chefs and exhibitors are also available on the ABBF Facebook page.
International carriers fly direct into Adelaide, including Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific and Malaysian Airlines. Virgin Australia and Qantas fly to Adelaide from all major Australian cities (flights from Sydney and Melbourne are under two hours).