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First shout: Canberra Craft Beer and Cider Festival

Emma Bourke

Didn’t think you would get the chance to spend another Saturday in the sun with your favourite brew before the cold weather kicks in? Well, think again, because the Canberra Craft Beer and Cider Festival is on its way, and they’ve got first shout!

This Saturday, the Mercure Hotel Canberra is opening its doors to Australia’s best brewers and serving up over 80 different types of craft beer and cider alongside live entertainment, beer tastings and a great range of gourmet pub-style food.

Running since 2008, festival organisers have always strived for quality and intimacy over head count, says festival organiser and head brewer at Sydney Brewery, Michael Capaldo.

“We’ve had the opportunity to expand over the years, but enjoy giving the consumers the intimate exposure they only get with having 18 to 20 brewers and between 1,200 to 1,500 people through the gates,” says Michael.

“There’s always been a wonderful vibe within the Mercure. You get to meet a lot of people, talk about craft beer, craft cider and have a great day.”

This year, Michael and the team wanted the list of brewers on the bill to represent the wider landscape of Australian craft beer, an industry which is growing at exponential rates. As a result, festivalgoers can expect to see larger craft brewers like Coopers, James Squire and Little Creatures pouring their finest ales alongside lesser known independents like Stone and Wood, Hopdog and Canberra’s very own Bentspoke Brewery.

“What we’re doing is giving the punters the opportunity to choose what excellent beers they want to drink that weekend. Over the years, the quality in craft beer has grown significantly so this year there will be a few more ‘out there’ beers on offer,” he says.

To keep festival-goers well fed throughout the day, a smorgasbord of traditional pub-style food will be prepared by the hotel kitchen. German sausages, pulled pork belly rolls, gourmet porter pies and, of course beer battered fish ‘n chips will all feature on the gourmet menu, which has been designed to match the beers and ciders on offer.

Oh, and remember when I said the first shout was on Michael and the team? I wasn’t kidding. Entry into the Mercure this Saturday includes 10 vouchers to exchange for samples of Australia’s finest brews on site. According to Michael, each sample serve is around 100ml, the equivalent of two pints!

Michael and the team are looking to make a few more announcements in the lead up to this weekend, including the line-up for live entertainment on the day. So keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates and I’ll see you at the festival!

The essentials

What: Canberra Craft Beer and Cider Festival (all ages)
When: 11am to 6pm Saturday 28 March
Where: Mercure Hotel, Braddon
How much: $23.50
Tickets: Grab your ticket directly from the Canberra Craft Beer and Cider Festival website
Web: or check out their Facebook page


Emma Bourke

Emma Bourke is a freelance journalist hailing from the Nations Capital. Pop culture enthusiast and lover of mid-century antiques, when she isn’t attempting to watch an entire television series in one sitting, you can find Emma climbing mountains and scowling at boot camps who steal her spot on the oval. Follow her on twitter @EmmaBourke_ More about the Author