Canberra beer festival defies Covid and mother nature to stage comeback

The Canberra Craft Beer & Cider Festival mounted a remarkable comeback after cancelling last year due to the Covid restrictions.

This year’s 13th annual event saw a return of both exhibitors and crowds, in a new Covid-safe format that defied the threat of rain and delivered one of the most memorable events in recent years, said festival director Jenny Farrell.

“There was clearly trepidation, not just because of the legacy of Covid, but also because of the serious storm and rain event that was brewing across the Dividing Range,” she said.

“This year’s event had support from the ACT Government because it was important to show that Canberra was ideally placed to re-start major festivals. I think all our exhibitors and all our guests would agree that it was an unqualified success.

“It did mean adjustments, we had to adapt to Covid-safe restrictions, and split the event into two distinct sessions, each ticketed, so that we could ensure that numbers were regulated.

“To cater for the Covid-safe requirements, we expanded the area, adding the lawns and roads of Batman and Gooreen Streets in Braddon to the grounds of the Mercure Canberra. This expansion was made possible through a grant from the ACT Government to support events.”

Staged on the grounds of the Mercure Canberra, some 45 local and interstate exhibitors presented over 400 craft beers and ciders for tasting.

Mercure Canberra general manager Lukas Wilfling said that the hotel was close to capacity across the weekend, with a large number of Sydney and regional NSW visitors using the Festival to enjoy a long weekend in the national capital.

“We would have doubled our occupancy compared to recent weekends,” he said. “And many stayed for three nights, to allow them to visit Canberra’s other major attractions.

“What was particularly noticeable was the ‘vibe’ of the crowd at the Festival. You could see how happy they were to be able to participate in such an event, and with the Festival being spread out across the Mercure and adjacent streets, it really encouraged confidence.”