Written by Andrew Spence
Serious brewers looking to move into the professional ranks through to backyarders who simply love drinking good beer will be among the punters at the 2016 Australian National Homebrewing Conference (ANHC) in Adelaide from 13-15 October.
The conference will coincide with the Australian Amateur Brewing Championships, where the place getters from Australian state championships will battle it out across 20 categories for national bragging rights.
Judging will take place on 13 October, with winners announced at the ANHC5 gala dinner in the Adelaide Town Hall the following evening.
Among the international speakers at the Hilton Adelaide conference will be former Stone Brewing head brewer Mitch Steele and well-known brew author Stan Hieronymus.
Conference session topics include; IPA: From Yesteryear to Modern Day Techniques; Specialty Malting; Toasted Oak and Mixed Fermentation; The Art and Science of Blending Yeast Cultures; and Modern Sour Brewing Techniques.
There will also be a System Wars TwentySixteen session where four automated brewing systems will be put to the test – Pico, Robo, Grainfather and Braumeister. The four bot brewers made an Australian sparkling ale using the same ingredients in August. A video of the brewing day will be played while punters taste the finished products and judge which machine brews best.
A session hosted by homebrewers who have gone pro, ‘The highs and Lows of Following Your Dreams’ is also expected to attract attention.
ANHC5 committee member Dan Bartholomaeus said a number of the attendees at the conference would be accomplished home brewers looking to open their own craft brewery.
“Or you can just sit back and enjoy drinking great beer with great people,” he said.
“There will be plenty of beer knowledge flowing throughout. The idea of the conference in general is to bring and share as much brew know-how and beer as possible.”
A bus tour will take visitors to Coopers, the world’s biggest exporter of malt syrups, for a brewery tour and to local craft breweries such as Pirate Life.
Bartholomaeus said the craft beer boom in Australia in recent years had improved public perceptions of homebrewing by bridging the gap between commercial breweries and backyard beer lovers.
“I think there’s a greater variety of ingredients available to craft brewers and therefore home brewers now and there’s a lot more research going on into hop varieties and malt varieties,” he said.
“The other benefit is the equipment available now to home brew, driven by the craft beer boom. The quality of the products and the fundamental techniques mean it is easier than ever to brew a great beer at home.”
Husband and wife team Simon Dunstone and Kate Henning were avid home brewers before starting their Smiling Samoyed Brewery south of Adelaide in 2012. The brewery has since won the Best Beer in Show trophy at the Royal Adelaide Beer & Cider Awards in 2015 and 2016.
Denning said regularly visiting local craft breweries such as Lobethal Bierhaus convinced the couple to make the leap from home brewing to boutique brewery.
She said the ease of access to good ingredients and a large number of local craft brewers to bounce ideas off had given home brewers greater scope to advance their hobby.
“We certainly have people come here and chat to us about their home brew now and drop samples off for us to taste,” she said.
“At big commercial breweries it’s very much seen as an industrial process whereas having craft breweries where you can see all the equipment on a better scale helps people imagine doing it themselves.”
ANHC5 will also include a pairing dinner and culminate in a Club Night at Hilton Adelaide where brewing clubs from around Australia will come together to showcase their beers and compete for the beer of the night and club of the night awards as voted by their peers.
“If people have a general interest in the hobby I think they’ll be blown away by how much fun they’ll have and how much they can learn,” Bartholomaeus said.
For tickets to the event, click here.