The co-director of Melbourne's three-day Great Australian Beer Spectapular, or Gabs, Steve Jeffares, says the event attracted about 12,000 visitors this year. From next year Gabs becomes part of Good Beer Week - a Victoria-wide celebration of beer, established in 2011.
Good Beer Week claims to have doubled the number of events to more than 100 in 2012. And in 2013, reports its website, "many of Melbourne's leading culinary lights took part, including the traditional, such as Grossi Florentino and Matteo's, and the new wave, such as Cumulus Up, Rockwell and Sons, Kumo Izakaya and Pope Joan."
Dramatic, sustained growth in craft beer consumption seems to be steadily repositioning beer as an upmarket beverage, deserving of the same attention being lavished on wine.
Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel
Bavaria's 1000-year-old Weihenstephan brewery makes delicious, complex, traditional beers, including this glorious bottle-fermented dark wheat beer. It has got the dense, abundant head of the style and a harmonious, malty, rich-but-not-heavy palate with the brisk, acidic, dry wheat-ale palate. The strong dollar seems to be keeping the price down - the sample bottle cost $5 on special.
Shepherd Neame Premium Spitfire Kentish Ale
This is a lovely, satisfying, full-flavoured ale weighing in at just 4.5 per cent alcohol. The incredibly rich, silky, treacly malt flavours are nicely offset by quite bitter, lingering hop flavours. Serve it at about 10 degrees as an attractive cool-summer-evening ale.